Staff

Jacob Slings, Director

JSlings@IowaCounty.iowa.gov

Office: 319-655-8465

Jacob, a native of Altoona, Iowa, assumed the role of Director at Iowa County Conservation in March 2024. Growing up in Altoona, Jacob cultivated his passion for the outdoors on his family’s farm in Prairie City, where he spent his days hunting for rocks, fishing, and exploring nature.

After graduating from Dordt University with a degree in Environmental Science, Jacob honed his skills through diverse experiences. He interned with the Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation, focusing on executing management plans for private landowners. Subsequently, he dedicated four years to the Iowa DNR, working in the Fisheries Bureau and Water Quality Bureau, followed by a role as a hatchery technician at the New Mexico Department of Game & Fish.

Jacob’s journey led him back to Altoona, where he discovered his talent for community engagement and service while working for the City of Altoona. Combining his environmental expertise, love for the outdoors, and dedication to helping others, Jacob found his calling at Iowa County Conservation.

Outside of work, Jacob enjoys spending time with his wife Alyssa and daughter Willa. He also enjoys feeding his passion for hunting and fishing, staying connected to the great outdoors that he loves so much.

Phil DeJarnatt, Park Ranger

pdejarnatt@iowacounty.iowa.gov

319-655-8465

Mary Blair, Naturalist

mblair@iowacounty.iowa.gov

319-655-8466

Mary has been the Naturalist with Iowa County Conservation since November 2016. Mary grew up in a small rural eastern Iowa community.  This gave her lots of time to spend outdoors and enjoy all the wonders of nature.  Her family spent endless hours fishing, camping, gardening, and just enjoying the outdoors.  Through spending most of her youth in nature, she developed a love for it as well as for animals.  This is what led Mary to her chosen career path as a naturalist!

After graduating high school Mary attended Kirkwood Community College and earned her parks and natural resources degree.  While attending Kirkwood she did an internship and then worked part-time with the MacBride Raptor Project (MRP).  There she gained experience working with birds of prey assisting with care of injured and resident non-releasable raptors, as well as presenting educational programs.

After graduating from Kirkwood Mary worked seasonal and part-time outdoor education jobs for a few years, and then decided to return to college to get her bachelors degree from the University of Iowa in environmental science.  While pursuing her degree she worked during the summers with the UI Summer Wildlife Camps where she spent time outdoors with kids of all ages teaching about nature and doing fun outdoor recreation activities.  During the school year she worked at the MRP again, continuing to teach about and care for Iowa’s birds of prey.

After graduation she accepted a conservation education position with Muscatine County Conservation (MCC).  At MCC she was able to expand her knowledge and experience within conservation education, worked with and cared for resident education wildlife, and was mentored by two wonderful naturalists! She accepted a naturalist position with Lee County Conservation, after educating the citizens of Lee County for three and a half years, Mary was fortunate to accept a position closer to home with Iowa County Conservation.

Working with many different organizations has given her lots of great experience in the conservation education field. It has allowed her to spread awareness, appreciation, and good stewardship for the outdoors.  In her free time Mary enjoys spending time with her husband Richard, her family and friends, listening to music, gardening, and creating art.

Gage Hazen-Fabor, Ranger / Naturalist

ghazenfabor@iowacounty.iowa.gov

319-655-8465

Gage Hazen-Fabor has been the Park Ranger Naturalist for Iowa County Conservation since July, 2021. He is a native to Iowa County so this is the place that he spent most of his time growing up and exploring as he developed a love and respect for the outdoors and our natural resources.

Gage picked a career in natural resources to combine his passion of helping others and protecting our environment. He hopes through his work he can educate and help others better understand the “Land to Man” relationship and ensure we protect our natural resources and environments for people of future generations to enjoy.

Gage has an AAS degree in Parks and Natural Resources from Kirkwood Community College in Cedar Rapids, Ia, and is currently working on his bachelor’s degree in Conservation Management through Upper Iowa University in Fayette, IA via online study. Before accepting the position as the Park Ranger Naturalist for Iowa county conservation, Gage worked as a Seasonal Park Aid with Iowa County Conservation for 3-4 years, Seasonal Natural Resource Manager with Johnson County Conservation, Park Maintenance Aid with California State Parks at Richardson Grove Redwood State Park, and as Land Technician work study with the Parks and Natural Resources department with Kirkwood Community College.

When not working or doing school work, Gage can be found doing a large variety of hobbies that include playing guitar, frisbee golfing, playing sports, wood carving, hand splitting firewood, primitive bush-craft projects, hunting, open water and ice fishing, hiking, foraging, and of course spending time with family and friends.

Elizabeth Capron, Administrative Assistant

ecapron@iowacounty.iowa.gov

319-655-8465

Liz is the Administrative Assistant for Iowa County Conservation starting in the summer of 2022. Before coming to Lake Iowa Park, she worked in landscaping, which helped nurture her curiosity and love of nature. She is interested in mycology, loving to learn about fungi, and has been a member of the North American Mycological Association since 2021. In her free time, she enjoys foraging, hiking, reading, learning about self-sustainability, and creating art through paintings and pottery. She can easily be described as a moderately more composed version of the feral child from The Wild Thornberrys.