Our History

Soil and water conservation districts (SWCDs) were written into state law in the 1930’s after the devastation of the Dust Bowl – a consequence of drought conditions and farming without conservation. These local units of government were formed across the nation to help citizens conserve soil, water, and other natural resources. They helped create a link between government resources and local landowners to increase the application of conservation on private land.

Polk County officially formed its own soil and water conservation district in 1945. The district is governed by a board of five elected commissioners and appointed assistant commissioners. These individuals make decisions on how federal and state conservation funds should be used across the county. Since it’s formation, the district has expanded their services by providing outreach to the urban community and establishing new partnerships to insure long-term problem solving through the use workshops, trainings, and cost share programs.

Over the past 20 years, Polk SWCD has also taken a lead on watershed based efforts in Central Iowa. By working with local partners and residents to address local issues, the district has taken a part in tackling issues such as bacteria and algae blooms in Big Creek Lake, flooding in Fourmile Creek, stormwater pollution in Easter Lake, and many others. Through grant funding and local partnerships, the district has grown to include a staff of watershed coordinators to better serve Central Iowa.

For additional information about the function of soil and water conservation districts, visit Io Iowa Code 161a, here!

Polk Soil and Water Conservation District Mission

To provide leadership to help people improve, conserve, and sustain our natural resources while educating them about the importance and practicality of maintaining our environment and quality of life.

SWCD_Navbar_Logo

Commissioners

Polk Soil and Water Conservation District is lead by a board of five elected commissioners who serve four-year terms. This board provides oversight and leadership to serve Polk County residents and achieve the district’s mission. Click on pictures below for additional information about each commissioner.

Commissioner

John Norwood

John Norwood Bio:

Elected to Polk County Soil and Water Conservation District in 2018.

Employment: TBL Ventures, LLC – a business strategy and business operations concern that works across the political spectrum, and public, private and non-profit sectors, to solve complex resource problems in agriculture, business and government.

I have a 20-year professional background that includes work in the agricultural sector both here in Iowa and previously in California and the East Coast.

I have two master’s degrees from Yale University. One is an MBA with an emphasis in public finance. The other is a Master of Environmental Management from the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies (essentially an agriculturally related degree by a fancy name). At Yale, I studied watershed management, soils, and hydrology, and completed a master’s project on financing stream buffers in an urbanizing watershed of the Hudson River.


John@tblventures.com

Visit John's Polk SWCD Facebook Page


Commissioner

Chip Mathis

No Bio at this time.

Commissioner

Cindy Valin

Cindy Valin Bio

Cindy Valin has been a commissioner for Polk Soil and Water Conservation District since 2010. During her tenure with Polk SWCD she has served as chair of the personnel committee and treasurer. Cindy has also facilitated the growth and development of successful projects including the Easter Lake and Big Creek Lake Watershed Projects. Her role in watershed projects has included serving as representation for Polk SWCD on the Easter Lake Technical Advisory Committee and as board member for the Fourmile Creek Watershed Management Authority. Cindy hopes to continue seeing growth with the district to best serve both urban and rural residents across the county.

Contact information:
Phone: 515-265-4632
Email: valinpaul-cindy@msn.com

Commisisoner

Lou McDonald

Lou McDonald Bio

Lou McDonald is in his first term at the Polk County Soil & Water Commission. Lou is a managing partner at Title Fight - a Des Moines based advertising agency and his past work includes campaigning for N.J. Sen. Cory Booker, NH Gov. Maggie Hassan, and MD Gov. Martin O’Malley. Lou earned his bachelor's degree in Political Science from Rutgers University and his master's degree in Elections and Campaign Management from Fordham University.

Commissioner

Katie Rock

Katie Rock Bio:

Katie has served as commissioner with Polk County Soil and Water Conservation District since 2016. She also serves on the executive committee of the North Raccoon River Watershed Management Coalition. She has a broad background in agricultural research – covering biomass crops, biotechnology, and information technology.

Katie Rock manages state policy in Iowa for the Center for Rural Affairs where her main focus is on water and clean energy issues.

Katie grew up on a farm outside Muscatine in eastern Iowa. She graduated from Iowa State University and the University of Minnesota with a master’s of science in applied plant science. She lives in Des Moines with her family.

Contact information:
Email: katieprock@gmail.com
Twitter: @KatieRockIA
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/katie-rock-553b1636/

Are you interested in becoming a commissioner?

View

Assistant Commissioners

In addition to elected commissioners, assistant commissioners are an appointed position. Assistant commissioners serve as an advisor to the board, providing input and serving on district committees. If you are interested in being an assistant commissioner, feel free to reach out to a commissioner or district staff for more information. This role provides many great opportunities for interested people, from a leadership role to an opportunity to learn and help your local watersheds.


Robin Boggs

Assistant Commissioner

Don Sandor

Assistant Commissioner

Elaine Ilvess

Assistant Commissioner

Zach Deyoung

Assistant Commissioner

Staff

Polk County staff is composed of a partnership between state, district, and federal employees working together to address local soil and water issues. All working out of the Ankeny Field Office, staff serve various roles focused on meeting local needs.

Watershed Coordinator

Amanda Brown

Watershed Coordinator

John Swanson

Conservation Assistant

Anne Bultman

Watershed Coordinator

Jennifer Welch

Watershed Coordinator

Julie Perreault

Could Be You!

Documents

Our document's section is comprised of Monthly Meeting Notes & Annual Reports, which can be downloaded at your convenience. Never worry about missing a meeting, our team will upload meeting agendas and notes.

Monthly Updates

Meeting Notes

The Polk SWCD Board of Commissioners meet the third Tuesday of every month.

Yearly Updates

Annual Reports

Each year the Polk SWCD creates an annual report highlighting the past years accomplishments.

Some native prairie plants have roots that can go 15 feet deep!