Jeff Vonk - Peace Corps, Chile

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By Admin1 (admin) on Tuesday, July 03, 2001 - 10:21 am: Edit Post

Jeff Vonk was a volunteer in Chile

Jeff Vonk was a volunteer in Chile

Jeff Vonk was a volunteer in Chile

The list of places my career has taken me is long — New York, Maine, Chile, Peru, the Caribbean, Washington, D.C., Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska, the Dakotas, Colorado, Wyoming, Montana, Colorado and California.

The list of places I’ve come back to is much shorter: Iowa.

Gov. Tom Vilsack has been active in encouraging former Iowans to "Come Back to Iowa." My return is not by accident. I am happy and honored to have such an opportunity.

"Opportunity" is really the definitive word for Iowa right now. The state and its vast natural resources — including its people — offer an incredible opportunity to chart a new direction that both preserves our rich heritage and uses the innovation and enthusiasm of its citizens to build a more prosperous future for our state.

It is opportunity that has brought me back to Iowa and I concur with the governor that many former Iowans, as well as new citizens, would come to the state if more opportunities existed. We are, of course, talking about economic development.

Let me say right up front that one of my cornerstone beliefs is that environmental protection, resource conservation and economic development are not mutually exclusive — we can successfully accomplish all three by respectfully working together. I would even take it one step further in stating that we cannot meet our goals relating to economic development without proper and effective resource management. The very foundation of our state’s economy has always been on the rich, fertile soil of our landscape.

But beyond the obvious agricultural productivity of our soil, quality of life is key to attracting former Iowans and top-notch newcomers to move to Iowa. Virtually all the issues the Iowa Department of Natural Resources deals with touch directly on quality of life: fresh air to breath and clean water to drink. Recreational opportunities such as parks, trails, hunting, fishing and wildlife observation are fundamental to economic development efforts.

I have been on the job only a couple of weeks now, much too soon for me to offer specific changes in direction, programs or solutions. These may come. But if or when changes do come, you, your neighbors and many others will all have had a chance to provide this department with input and guidance. I am a firm believer that the care of our natural resources begins with all of us individually. It also stands to reason, then, that all of us should have the opportunity to take part in the decision-making process on conservation and environmental issues.

Iowa’s DNR represents some of the best and brightest this state has to offer in terms of the people we have employed in the agency, their knowledge, their expertise and their commitment. The diversity of the people we have working for you as citizens of the state represents a wide-variety of interests and experience united behind a genuine, common desire to make a difference in our environment. The DNR, like so many other aspects of life in Iowa, always look to the future with a firm reverence of the past. In fact, this state places great value in its past and the people who have done so much to shape it. I take great comfort in knowing that while this is a new opportunity for me, I can draw on the knowledge and expertise of so many people around me. This includes former director and now deputy director Larry Wilson and Lyle Asell who has so capably served as interim director for the past year. These two people alone represent countless hours and unswerving dedication to the preservation of our natural resources, just as so many others have in this department and other agencies and organizations we work with on a daily basis.

You will be hearing more from me in this spot in The Conservationist in future months and I certainly want to hear from you. The best way to reach me is by mail: Jeff Vonk, Iowa DNR, 502 E. Ninth St., Des Moines, IA 50319. I’ll be setting up an e-mail address in the near future and look forward to meeting many of you in person as I visit Iowa communities.

I hope you will be as happy to have me back in Iowa as I am to be here.

Bio sidebar

Home state: New York

College: BS, Forest Biology, Syracuse

MS, Wildlife Management, University of Maine

Career: Smithsonian Institution

Peace Corps, Chile

USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service

New York State; Lima, Peru; Caribbean area; Washington, D.C. (Congressional Liaison, Deputy Chief of Operations); Iowa (State Conservationist, 1990-1994); Northern Plains Region (Regional Conservationist); California (State Conservationist, 1998-2001)

Family: Wife, Mary Anne; Children, Peter and Laura

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Story Source: State of Iowa

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; COS - Chile



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