Whiterock Conservancy, a nonprofit land trust recently formed to steward seven square miles of Iowa conservation lands, on May 24 announced the hiring of Conrad Kramer as executive director. Kramer moves to Iowa after heading major land trusts in California and Idaho. Whiterock Conservancy is located about 70 miles northwest of Des Moines.
Whiterock Conservancy is made up of what was formerly known as the Garst Farm at Coon Rapids in western Iowa, the famous place of Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev's visit in 1959 at the height of the Cold War. Khrushchev visited the farm to learn about hybrid corn and how he could improve agricultural productivity in the Soviet Union. The Garst Farm also has many other significant connections to Iowa's agricultural history. Roswell Garst, the farmer and Garst family patriarch, who hosted Khrushchev and became friends with the Soviet leader, was instrumental in the development of the seed corn industry. Roswell was a friend of Henry A. Wallace, who was editor of Wallaces Farmer and founder of Pioneer Hi-Bred Seed Company.
Mark Ackleson, who represents the Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation on the Whiterock board of directors, says, "Conrad Kramer rose to the top during a nationwide search. He clearly has the experience to lead our young nonprofit in achieving its mission of environmental restoration, sustainable agriculture, and public engagement with the land."
Whiterock Conservancy encompasses 5,000 acres of Raccoon River watershed
Whiterock Conservancy stewards nearly 5,000 acres of the Raccoon River watershed near Coon Rapids. These lands lie upriver to Springbrook State Park, Lake Panorama, Des Moines, and, ultimately, the Mississippi River. The donation of these landholdings to the nonprofit Whiterock, by the Garst family of Coon Rapids, Iowa, represents the largest private land gift recorded to date in Iowa. The Conservancy achieved its nonprofit status in December 2006.