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Kelly takes on Naturalist duties for Tama County Conservation

July 11, 2019
By CJ Eilers - Central Iowa Press ( , Toledo Chronicle, Tama News-Herald

Tama County Conservation has welcomed Brendan Kelly as a Naturalist/Park Ranger, who hopes to bring his experience and interest in the outdoors to the department and community.

"I'm very excited about working at Tama County Conservation," Kelly said. "I'm excited to get things rolling here and reach out to as many people possible about what we do here every day."

Kelly, originally from Bettendorf, graduated from Iowa State University with a degree in Animal Ecology/Aquatic sciences in 2017. He began his career as a Naturalist with Carroll County Conservation, moving on to the Greater Des Moines Y Camp in Boone, Polk County Conservation before coming to Tama County a month ago. Kelly's main duties as a Naturalist are to host educational programs, reach out to area schools/organizations and patrol the campgrounds at Otter Creek.

Article Photos

Brendan Kelly

"Opportunity brought me here because these jobs are few and far between," Kelly said. "I've enjoyed being a part of new programs with new people. Everyone around here is super nice and a lot of fun to work with."

While Kelly is using his first year to learn more about Tama County, reaching out to groups for programs and establishing his position, he hopes to bring in as many people as he can to Otter Creek and make it a destination. Working alongside Tama County Conservation Director Logan Roberts, he hopes to increase "recreational abilities" for the public such as more canoes, kayaks, more classes and other ideas in the future.

"Otter Creek is a great park to work in," Kelly said. "We are looking to work on the lake here in the next couple of years to improve the fishing aspect of the park. There's also some great hiking trails to explore and we have lots of camping sites available."

Long before deciding to go into conservation, Kelly was a Mechanical Engineering major in Ames, realizing the field was not for him. Kelly already had an interest in aquatics, owning several tanks of fish and went into the field. An internship at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha showed him being an aquarist wasn't quite right either, nor the research field. Instead, Kelly applied for an Assistant Naturalist job and found his calling.

"When I applied, I didn't quite know what a Naturalist was, but once I got into it I realized it's right up my alley," Kelly said. "I get to work with kids, adults, helping everyone and enjoying myself at the same time."

When not working, Kelly spends time with his fiancee, working with his fish tank, hunt and anything outdoors.



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