Tabitha Panas

President/Region 1

Tabitha is originally from Omaha and graduated from UNO in 2018 with a degree in Environmental Science. Even growing up in the middle of the city, she has always had a great appreciation and deep curiosity for nature. Neale Woods in North Omaha was her escape from the city into the quiet peace of a trail in a forest. Later as an intern with Fontenelle Forest, she was able to help with management - cutting honeysuckle, sweet clover, and participating on her first prescribed burn. Last year she worked on a field crew with the Conservation Corps of Iowa, doing habitat restoration in the Loess Hills. Currently, Tabitha is a Farm Bill Biologist with Pheasants Forever, working out of Denison, IA. She helps landowners and producers achieve their habitat goals on private lands while working in partnership with NRCS and the DNR. Tabitha loves her job and is grateful to be where she is. In her free time she enjoys, hiking, kayaking, bird watching, cutting cedars, spending time with her “obnoxious” family, gardening, tending to her dogs and her quail, cooking, and spending time in prairies, of course.

Tim Youngquist

Vice-President/Region 3

IPN Board Member since January 2018. Tim grew up on his family farm in western Iowa and holds an MS in Community & Regional Planning from Iowa State University. He is currently the farmer liaison with the Prairie STRIPS team at ISU and travels the state helping farmers and landowners install prairie in their crop fields. In his free time he enjoys spending time with his family, being outside, woodworking, and exploring Iowa parks, prairies, and preserves.

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Ed Sibley


Ed retired from teaching for 22 years at Western Iowa Tech Community College in Sioux City.  He taught all

facets of business/entrepreneurship except the areas of personal

income tax and cost accounting.   Prior to teaching Ed was a credit

union manager for seven years and a bank employee for five years

before that.  He does some business consulting for various small

businesses in the surrounding area.  Ed has been active in

establishing prairies in the area and was instrumental in getting South Sioux City, NE to plant 30 acres of prairie along the riverfront. It is now in place and ready to grow. Ed is the IPN Treasurer, a member of the Audubon Society, Sierra Club, and

several other organizations.

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Laura Leben

Secretary/Region 2

Laura Leben is excited to be serving her first term with the Iowa Prairie Network as a Board Member at Large. She is currently employed by the Iowa Dept of Natural Resources as a Natural Resources Technician 2 at the Prairie Resource Center. The DNR's Prairie Resource Center produces native local ecotype prairie seed used for planting prairie reconstructions on public land throughout the state. Laura believes that quality seed and thoughtfully designed seed mixes are key to success with any habitat project. Laura graduated with a B.S. in Environmental Sciences from Drake University and has worked for a variety of employers in the field of natural resource management including Allendan Seed Company, the Illinois St. Charles Park District, Neal Smith National Wildlife Refuge and Pheasants Forever, Inc.. Laura lives in Boone, IA and enjoys spending her free time exploring prairie remnants, canoeing, camping, road-cycling, and meeting other prairie people. 

Email Laura!

Leesa McNeil

Region 1

Leesa and her husband, Jon, did not become awake to prairies in Iowa until they purchased an acreage that contained virgin Loess Hills Prairie.  Ever since that time Leesa has worked with her husband to preserve and enhance the prairie and connect to people and resources that can help them be effective in preserving prairies.  Leesa sees the Iowa Prairie Network as an important organization to help Iowans appreciate and protect the prairies. Leesa obtained a Master of Science in Judicial Administration from the University of Denver College of Law and her undergraduate degree from the University of South Dakota. Most of her 38 years in court administration were spend in Iowa but she also worked in Baltimore, Maryland, Saginaw, Michigan and Denver, Colorado.  She currently teaches online for the University of Phoenix.  She cherishes and works to learn from the people trained in the sciences that help us understand and protect our natural world.  She served on the State Preserves Advisory Board from 2012 to 2018, is a member of the Iowa Native Plant Society, Loess Hills Audubon Society and  served a couple terms on the IPN Board for several years starting in 2014.  She passed the tests to be a wildlands firefighter for several years starting in 2012 so she could be more effective at conducting her own prescribed burns on her remnant prairie.

Email Leesa!

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Sarah Nizzi

Region 2

Sarah has been an IPN Board member since July 2019. Sarah is originally from central Iowa and holds a B.S. in Environmental Science from Drake University. Currently, Sarah is a Farm Bill Pollinator Conservation Planner

& NRCS Partner Biologist with the Xerces Society for Invertebrate

Conservation. In her free time, she enjoys spending time in prairies,

recreating outdoors and volunteering for various NGO conservation groups.

Justin Meissen

Region 3

IPN Board member since August 2020. Justin grew up in northwestern Illinois and has been an Iowan since 2016. Justin has a PhD in Conservation Biology from the University of Minnesota and a BS in Integrative Biology from the University of Illinois at Urbana- Champaign. Justin leads the Research and Restoration Program at the Tallgrass Prairie Center where his focus is on implementing restoration research and demonstration projects, developing training seminars, and developing technical materials. Justin also enjoys nature photography, woodworking, and tinkering with native plant propagation.

Curtis Behrens

Region 4

Curtis is currently a Jones County resident where he also works as the Natural Resource/Wildlife Manager for Jones County Conservation. He is a graduate from Iowa State University (2011) with majors focused on wildlife management as well as interpretation of natural resources and has since developed his professional resume with skills in environmental permitting, erosion control, native prairie, woodland and wetland habitat management as well as outreach education. Curtis has also been a volunteer in his local communities since he was 16 and continues to help with organizations that specialize in outdoor and wildlife education, prairie management, wildlife rehabilitation and environmental career building. Throughout his professional career, Curtis has been a licensed ISA Arborist, Certified Wetland Scientist, Prescribed Burn Manager (Burn Boss), Designated Erosion Control Inspector, and even added “Iowa Master Conservationist” to his badge set once he had moved to Iowa. Curtis loves teaching and enjoys the challenge of educating the public and changing people’s minds, specifically as it pertains to the benefits and wonders of our Midwest native resources, and aims to make his enthusiasm for Iowa ecology contagious.

Kenny Slocum

Region 4

Kenny Slocum grew up in LeClaire, Iowa before graduating from Augustana College in 2009 and heading west. Working for the Montana Conservation Corps, he developed a love for hands-on restoration work. From there he worked for the National Park Service as an interpretive park ranger and trail crew member, depending on the month. In 2015, he joined the Clayton County Conservation Board where he
presently works as a naturalist and natural resource manager, depending on the day. He believes in the power of elbow grease and education to restore Iowa’s natural heritage, hosting public programs and work days to engage and empower private landowners to become better stewards.

and preserves.

Email Kenny!

Lance Brisbois

Region 5

Lance is currently a Project Coordinator at Golden Hills Resource Conservation and Development, where he leads a

variety of conservation and outdoor recreation initiatives. He helped coordinate the 2017 Iowa Prairie Conference, held in the Loess Hills, and currently manages a prairie seed harvest & native plant propagation project. Lance is hopeful about prairies’ potential for improving wildlife habitat, soil health, and water quality, and has completed ISU’s Prairie Strips Consultant certification. He has also completed the Iowa Master Conservationist Program, Iowa DNR’s IOWATER water quality monitoring program, and Iowa Rivers Revival’s Master River Stewards Program. Lance is a Natural Areas Management volunteer with Pottawattamie County Conservation Board and has completed basic wildland fire training. He has a bachelor’s degree in Urban Studies from the University of Minnesota and a Master of Public Administration degree from University of Nebraska-Omaha. Lance is a native western Iowan and has always enjoyed spending time outdoors. He prefers to spend free time hiking, biking, and paddling, and is learning to hunt.

Cait Caughey

Region 5

Cait is an herb, prairie and vegetable farmer in the Loess Hills of Southwest Iowa. She operates Mullein Hill Farm with her family and homeschools her two kids (who also love the prairie) Catalpa and Mira. She also works off farm at Lutheran Family Services supporting refugee and new American farmers in Omaha, Nebraska. Cait is an educator and has worked for various urban agriculture and garden education projects over the years.  She loves to share land tending skills with children, youth, and adults and is particularly keen on building healthy soil and saving seeds. She and her partner are currently working on small prairie restoration projects on the farm and hope to produce more native plants for the community from seed they collect. Her website is

Jacob Pitzenberger

Region 6

Jacob was born and raised in north central Iowa. He attend Iowa State University where he majored in Animal Ecology and Religious Studies. Following graduation he worked as a technician on a patch-burn-graze project in southern Iowa, then multiple seasonal positions with the Iowa DNR as a technician and then as a naturalist. Currently, Jacob manages a large private hunting and wildlife preserve in central Iowa, focusing his efforts on native wildlife habitat and prairie restoration/reconstruction. He is also a wildlife and nature photographer, who's work can be found at

Email Jacob!

Kelly Jacobs

Region 6

Kelly is originally from Minnesota where she discovered her passion for conservation exploring the lakes and forests with her dog, Lucy. She has a background in science education and earned her Masters degree in biology in 2017, studying the effects of invasive plant species on habitat restoration. After moving to central Iowa, she began working as a biological technician for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The monarchs, bumble bees, and bison of the tallgrass prairie motivated Kelly to join the IPN board to advocate for this disappearing ecosystem and share it’s wonders with the public. In her free time, Kelly enjoys going camping, traveling, and bird watching.

Email Kelly!

Pam White

Region 7

Pam’s love of plants and animals began while growing up on the farm and sharing both her grandmothers’ enthusiasm for gardening. She attended William Penn University and carried a double major in chemistry and natural science. She graduated with a secondary science teaching certificate. After completing an internship in medical terminology, Pam’s life-long career has been in hospital laboratories. Her involvement with IPN started with a prairie meeting advertised in the local shopper where she met one of southeast Iowa’s first prairie enthusiasts, Gene Kromray. At her first field trip, Georgetown Cemetery near Albia, she met other prairie enthusiasts like Martha Skillman, Sue Irving, and Glenda Buenger and she was hooked. She’s been on the IPN board for 14 years, leads monthly prairie hikes, and coordinates prairie

rescue and seed collecting events in Region 6. She enjoys every field trip and meeting, learning about plants and animals, and most of all every prairie person she has met.

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Ray Hamilton

Region 7

Ray is a founder and charter member of IPN. His passion is facilitating the identification, acquisition, and protection of natural areas. Ray’s personal and collaborative projects include numerous local quality areas.  He is especially happy with his role in preserving 3 prairies, a savanna complex, a fen, 3 algific talus slopes

and 2 miles of woodland river corridor, comprising a total of 1500

acres. As an independent voice, Ray gathered input from a variety of

biological specialties to create a novel and holistic approach to prairie management. This research and his hands-on experience as a

resource manager led him to write the “The Native Prairie Management Guide” as an alternative to concerns over traditional rotational burns. Ray thinks "IPN is a great organization to promote the importance of the prairie biome to the world."

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Corinne Bulat

At Large

Corinne joined the board as Secretary in 2018. While studying architecture at Iowa StateUniversity, she was  introduced to and fell in love with the

prairie during her land stewardship internship with Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation in 2013. Since then she has

worked at a private hunting preserve in central Iowa and currently at the Iowa DNR Prairie Resource Center, propagating, planting and harvesting native wildflowers and

grasses whose seed is distributed to Wildlife Management Areas throughout the state. Corinne grew up in the Quad

Cities, searching for mushrooms and orchids with her family through the woodlands of Iowa, Illinois and Michigan. She hopes her passion inspires Iowans to spend time in nature, caring for, connecting and growing with the flora and fauna with whom

we share our home!

Email Corinne!

Derek Miner

At Large

Derek found a passion for conservation at a young age

after a naturalist told his school group to lay down in a tallgrass

prairie and just listen. He studied Biology and Environmental

Studies at Central College in Pella, Iowa and has worked in

conservation for five years. He is currently a Land Stewardship

Associate for the Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation where he

works to protect and restore Iowa's natural landscapes. Derek and his dog, Leopold, often spend their time on random tracts of public land pursuing wild game, identifying flora and fauna, hiking the hills and gaining a new perspective on what it means to be an Iowan. He resides in Boone, Ia.

Email Derek!

Pete Eyheralde

At Large

Pete first learned about tallgrass prairies in 1991 from Daryl Smith and Laura Jackson as an undergrad at UNI. Since then he's been actively involved in prairie restoration and preservation through employment with the Iowa DNR, the Mahaska County Conservation Board, the US Fish & Wildlife Service, and the US Army Corps of Engineers, as well as on his farms in Monroe and Lucas counties.  In 2015 Pete received a PhD from Iowa State University in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, where his dissertation research focused on bison as seed dispersal agents in tallgrass prairie ecosystems.  He currently teaches ecology courses and conducts research in the Biology department at William Penn University in Oskaloosa Iowa.   

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Jon Judson

At Large

Jon is a native Iowan that has spent his life working with natural resources.  He runs a natural resource consulting and management

business called Diversity Farms, based near Dedham, Iowa.  The primary focus of the business is producing and planting locally native prairie seed. Jon has been a member of the Iowa Prairie Network for more than 20 years.

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Ann Wolf

At Large

Ann lives in Des Moines, Iowa and currently serves as Co-Program Director for MidwestHealthyAg.ORG, a grant funded scientific research project funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) for health and climate solutions. She is also owner of the consulting firm Clear Steam Solutions LLC which focuses on agriculture, environment, economic development and nonprofit sustainability. She has over 35 years experience in nonprofit development, community leadership, farm operations and management. She holds a Bachelor of Fine Art degree from the University of Iowa and a Masters degree in Philanthropy and Nonprofit Development from the University of Northern Iowa. She holds professional certifications from Iowa State University and United Way of Central Iowa’s Nonprofit Leadership Institute and has acquired the international high-level designations of Certified Fund Raising Executive and Certified Nonprofit Professional. Ann is recognized locally, regionally and nationally as an Iowa woman farmland owner practicing over 30 years with soil conservation, water quality enhancement, natural habitat and prairie restoration projects, encompassing environmental and agricultural sustainability programs on her 300-acre farm located in eastern Iowa. She has partnered and worked with USDA, NRCS, FSA, Iowa DNR, Pheasants Forever and others for effective management of her farm operation.

Email Ann!

Michelle Biodrowski

At Large

Michelle feels strongly that the first steps to protecting our home are educating, increasing diversity, and developing positive personal experiences outside and especially in the prairie. Her current passion is creating pollinator gardens at home and teaching others to “lose the lawn”, to make way for biodiversity. She has a ton of fun teaching environmental education as a Naturalist with Pottawattamie County. She graduated with a Master's degree in Biology from the University of Nebraska - Omaha. In college her desire to teach professionally began as a graduate teaching assistant of biology students. She gained practical experience with habitat management through past partnerships with The Nature Conservancy, Pheasants Forever, and the Iowa Department of Natural Resources. Her mantra is: Engaging, Educating, Encouraging, and Empowering People to Connect with Nature!

Email Michelle!