History of Calkins Nature Area

Homer Calkins hand feeding a couple of fawns with old pop bottles.This parcel of land was once the homestead of Homer and Ruth Calkins; who graciously donated their property to Ellsworth Community College Board of Trustees in 1981. In 1993, Hardin County Conservation formed a partnership with the college, turning over management of the area to Hardin County Conservation. The namesake, Calkins Nature Area, is in recognition and appreciation of Homer and Ruth’s selfless service and dedication environmental education and wildlife protection.

In the photo to the right, Homer Calkins is hand feeding a couple of fawns from old soda bottles.

Homer served as the Hardin County’s very first Conservation Board Director and remained in that position for 18 years. For Homer, natural resource conservation was not an interest, hobby or even career. It was an ideology that was woven into his very soul, and his actions and teachings left a lasting legacy that is still very much alive in the community despite his passing in 1996. He was well known for tireless dedication to rehabilitating sick and injured wildlife and was recognized posthumously by the Iowa Wildlife Rehabilitators Association and the Iowa Wildlife Federation for his life’s work.

Today, the results of Homer's work can be seen throughout the county, from the US Highway 20 Bridge that was designed and placed to minimize ecological disturbance in the Iowa River Greenbelt to the non-releasable rehabilitated birds of prey in our live wildlife exhibit. We strive to ensure that his vision to provide Hardin County and the surrounding areas with a beautiful nature preserve where discoveries can be made and life lessons taught.

Homer Calkins holding an American Kestrel.

Homer loved all animals, big and small. His joy in helping rehabilitate wildlife is evident in this picture of him holding and American kestrel.