Our Board of Directors
Reed Riskedahl has been on the Prairie Rivers Board of Directors since 2011, hailing from Marshalltown; and has served as past-president, secretary, and treasurer and now again serving as president.
Originally from rural southern Minnesota, Reed and his family have been Iowans for 42 years with 32 of those years in Marshalltown. He and his wife Rita have two adult daughters and two grandsons.
Reed has a degree in business and his volunteer involvement and leadership positions, in and around Marshalltown, along with his work experience (now retired) in retail, service, manufacturing, construction, and real estate are valuable to the Prairie Rivers of Iowa board and staff.
He has Master Gardener and Conservationist certifications from Iowa State University Extension and Outreach.
Michael Cox is the Prairie Rivers of Iowa board vice president. He received his Bachelor of Science in Fisheries and Wildlife Biology from Iowa State University in 1992. He’s been in the conservation field for 26 years has worked in non-profit and public sectors in Vermont, Alaska and Iowa where he currently serves as the director of Story County Conservation.
He grew up on a small farm in Iowa where his values for open space and environmental quality took root. Michael sees the role of environmental health as part and parcel with social and economic health and community betterment and values providing people with opportunities for outdoor recreation.
Jan Sherwood has been Vice President at Shekar Engineering in Des Moines, Iowa since 2003. Shekar Engineering is primarily a construction firm specializing in heavy construction. He has a degree in civil engineering from Iowa State University and brings to the Prairie Rivers of Iowa board his experience preparing client projects ranging from site development planning, residential subdivisions, environmental consulting, and road and railroad design.
He has had the opportunity to have many work experiences at several places around the country as well as close to home in Ames, Iowa. He began at Trinity Engineering Company in Huxley, Iowa as vice-president. During the 1990’s, Jan was a branch manager for the Ames-based environmental engineering firm Blattert and Associates. Later in the 1990’s, he owned Sherwood Engineering in Ames that focused on land development. He’s also been a project manager in Savannah, Georgia and Galveston, Texas working on municipal engineering projects for wastewater treatment plant design, street & drainage improvements, elevated storage tank design and stormwater permitting.
Jim Richardson is a grain farmer from Webster City, Iowa and current Prairie Rivers of Iowa board treasurer after previously acting as president and secretary. He also serves as a member of the Iowa Agricultural Mitigation Inc. and Hamilton County Conservation boards.
He holds a B.S. and an M.S. from Iowa State University in Ag Education and Professional Ag and brings to the board experience as an Air Force pilot, agricultural banker, sales manager and college professor.
Jim is married to his wife Donna Moore, has two grown sons, three granddaughters and a grandson.
Bob Ausberger grew up on a farm north of Jefferson, Iowa and attended school there. He went on to teach 7th and 8th graders after graduating from the University of Iowa. After teaching for four years, he returned to Greene County, Iowa to farm. Bob has always been interested in soil and water conservation which led him to begin no-till farming in the late 1980’s. His son David currently works the farm which is still 100% no-till along with other conservation practices including terraces, contours, cover crops, a mile of buffer strips along Buttrick Creek, tree planting along the creek, wetland establishment and using compost for soil health. David also works with the Iowa Soybean Association to monitor water leaving the farm. Bob and his wife Joyce also have a daughter, Susan Hawthorne, who is married to a Calhoun County, Iowa farmer.
His interests include the Lincoln Highway and since 1990 has been actively educating the public of its importance. He helped form the Greene County Lincoln Highway Association, the Iowa Lincoln Highway Association and the national Lincoln Highway Association.
Doug Cooper lives in Cambridge, Iowa and is retired from Iowa State University as the director of Market News and radio/audio for Iowa State University Extension Communications. He was also a co-host of WOI radio’s Midday program from 1990-2010.
He worked with WHO Radio farm department from 2010 – 2020. Previously, he was farm director at KICD radio in Spencer, KWMT radio in Fort Dodge, and WOW radio in Omaha, Nebraska.
He served six years of active duty in the United States Air Force prior to attending and graduating from Iowa State with a BA in journalism.
Kelly Foss has been the executive director of The Downtown Farmers’ Market in Des Moines, Iowa since 2000 and brings to the Prairie Rivers of Iowa board her experience of advancing the market’s development while giving encouragement and training to hundreds of local entrepreneurs, growers and artisans.
She also serves on the Farmers Market Coalition Board of Directors and connects communities to the health, social and economic benefits of farmers markets and related causes sharing her knowledge by leading educational workshops, speaking at conferences and networking with advocates across the country.
Kelly lives in Des Moines with her family and in her spare time enjoys visiting farmers markets, cycling, yoga and Hawkeye football.
Jerry L. Hatfield is the emeritus Laboratory Director of the National Laboratory for Agriculture and the Environment, a position he held from 1989 to 2020. He received his PhD from Iowa State University in 1975 in the area of Agricultural Climatology after a MS from the University of Kentucky in 1972 and a BS from Kansas State University in 1971. His career started at the University of California-Davis as a biometeorologist from 1975-1983, then he joined the USDA-ARS at the Plant Stress and Water Conservation Research Unit in Lubbock, Texas from 1983 to 1989 and in 1989 he was appointed the Laboratory Director of the National Soil Tilth Laboratory (renamed the National Laboratory for Agriculture and the Environment in 2009) where he served for 30 years until his retirement. He is an accomplished author of many scientific publications and books and the recipient of numerous awards.
Dr. Hatfield is a nationally and internationally recognized research scientist for his work on the impacts of agricultural systems on the environment and the impact of the environment on agriculture. He has provided the leadership for several efforts on quantifying the impact of agricultural systems on water quality and the impact of climate on agricultural productivity. His efforts have been directed toward showing how enhancing the soil increases production efficiency and enhances resilience to climate change. His recent focus has been directed toward understanding how agricultural systems provide and enhance ecosystem services.
Ervin “Erv” Klaas
Erv Klaas lives in Ames, Iowa and is a founding member of Prairie Rivers of Iowa and has served on the board since its beginning. He finished his third four-year term as a Story County Soil and Water Conservation District Commissioner in December 2013 and currently is a member of the executive board of the Squaw Creek Watershed Coalition, board president of Friends of Ada Haden Heritage Park, member of the Iowa Environmental Council, an Ames Climate Action Team member and serves on the advisory committee for the Sustainable Iowa Land Trust.
He retired in 1999 as a wildlife biologist with the Biological Resources Division of the U.S. Geological Survey after 30 years of federal service. He grew up on a bottomland farm along the Mississippi River in Eastern Missouri and received his Bachelor of Science in Wildlife Conservation in 1956 from the University of Missouri, and in 1963 and 1970 respectively, he earned a master’s and a doctorate in zoology from Kansas University.
Erv was a member of the biology faculty at Rockhurst College in Kansas City before joining the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as a wildlife research biologist in 1971. His research included studies on the effects of organochlorine insecticides on bird reproduction, behavior and population dynamics of waterfowl and wild turkeys, and restoration and management of wetlands and prairies. He served as assistant leader from 1975 to 1992 and leader from 1992 to 1999 for the Iowa Cooperative Fish & Wildlife Research Unit at Iowa State University where he was also a graduate faculty collaborator in the College of Agriculture. He’s now a professor emeritus of animal ecology Iowa State University.
Linda Murken is a lifelong resident of Story County, Iowa and still lives on her family’s farm west of Gilbert with her husband, Jim Noland. She is the chair of the Story County Board of Supervisors, has served on the Story County Planning and Zoning Commission, is past president of the League of Women Voters of Ames and Story County, was a founding president of the Gilbert/Franklin Township Fire and Rescue Agency and has volunteered and served on the board of ACCESS (local victim advocacy agency).
Eric Nielsen is a resident of Hardin County and is active in local government as a city councilperson for Steamboat Rock, Iowa. He has a Bachelor of Science in Forestry from Iowa State University and is a self-employed forester for Resource Services.
He brings to the Prairie Rivers of Iowa board his experience in planting, maintaining, marketing, assessing, and phytoremediation of native grass establishment, resource management and forest products.
Shellie Orngard has roots in Iowa’s natural, historical, and cultural heritage as deep as her immigrant ancestors who settled in Buena Vista County (German side) and Decorah (Norwegian side) in the 1880s. Like many people who grew up in Iowa, Shellie left the state to explore life on the East and West coasts before returning to the state. She subsequently became an Iowa advocate and appreciates the opportunity to actively support it as a Board member of Prairie Rivers of Iowa.
With a B.A. in Journalism and an M.A. in English from Iowa State University, Shellie has worked as a writer, editor, and college instructor. For eight years, Shellie took a hiatus from working with words to be executive director of the Volunteer Center of Story County. During that time she partnered with Prairie Rivers of Iowa to establish school gardens at Kate Mitchell and Sawyer elementary schools in Ames.
In 2019, Shellie retired from teaching in ISU’s Department of English to commit full time to other causes including but not limited to childhood literacy, climate change, and retiring 100-year-old house in Ames. Her son, Sam, is an oral historian and is pursuing a Ph.D. in Anthropology at the University of Chicago. her daughter, Anya, is an interior designer and yoga instructor in Ames when she’s not traveling the world.