County Government
O'Brien County Conservation Board
Contact    Hours
4931 Yellow Ave.
Peterson, Iowa 51047
Phone: 712-295-7200
O'Brien County Conservation Board Hours:
Monday-Friday - 8 A.M. to 4:30 P.M.

Prairie Heritage Center Hours:
Wednesday-Friday - 9 A.M. to 4 P.M.
Saturday & Sunday - 1 P.M. to 4 P.M.


The O'Brien County Conservation Board was formed by decision of the county voters in 1964 and by the appointment of five citizens from all corners of the county by the county board of supervisors.

The O'Brien County Conservation Board currently includes Kathy Luedke of Primghar, President, Jack Wallinga of Sutherland, Royd Chambers of Sheldon, Sherri Bootsma of Sanborn and Darwin Dau of Paullina. The members of the O'Brien County Conservation Board each serve a five year term. They serve without pay but receive their actual expenses for mileage, etc. while carrying out their duties. The O'Brien County Conservation Board board meets the second Tuesday of each month to transact business, develop, and provide direction to the board director who oversees the daily operations of the board.

The O'Brien County Conservation Board invites you to visit and enjoy the parks and natural areas that are located in O'Brien County.




   Terry Boltjes, Director
   Charlene Elyea, Naturalist
   Brian Schimmer, Park Ranger
   Ryan List, Park Ranger
   Andrew Kathman, Park Ranger
   Brenda Dodge, Receptionist




With the need for environmental education on the rise, the naturalist program aims at educating the public by interpreting the natural resources of the county promoting the natural resources of the county, and developing an environmentally responsible citizenry. All age groups are welcomed and encouraged to attend the public programs.  Civic organizations and community groups can request a program by contacting the naturalist.  

If you would like to keep up-to-date on happenings within the conservation board, subscribe to our free quarterly newsletter, the "Little Sioux Wanderings".  E-mail your name and mailing address by clicking here or view online.


Prairie Games At The Prairie Heritage  Center On A Bright Fall Field Trip 






The Prairie Heritage Center is located on a bluff that is adjacent to the Hannibal Waterman Prairie Preserve.  The building looks out over the historic hills and valleys of the area as well as the Little Sioux River Valley.




It is the desire of the O'Brien Conservation Board  to provide the best possible education and preservation with regard to the nature and environment so unique to this area.

The Waterman area offers some of the most breath-taking views of nature in the area. Formed during the last ice age by the movement of glaciers, the geographic valley we are nestled near a geographical wonder known as a hanging valley. These glaciers carved the beautiful bluffs, valleys, rivers and lakes we see today. They also deposited some of the richest soil, known as till, in the world.

In addition to the landscape, the Waterman Area offers a wide variety of flora and fauna, indigenous to the area for thousands of years. Much of the native prairie grasses, wildflowers and tree growth look the same today as they would have when the first native peoples inhabited this land. There are even plots of land in the vicinity that remain virgin prairie, untilled by human hands or machinery.

In the mid-1940's Dr. Ada Hayden of Iowa State University conducted a statewide inventory of prairie remnants. Her #1 site for preservation is the Waterman area. It should be noted that according to a report for the Nature Conservancy, this site is one of the few locations for the Prairie Bush Clover, a rare species listed with the federal government. The Conservancy has also identified this area as "as site of regional significance in our Northern Tallgrass Ecoregional Plan".

The area is so noteworthy in beauty, it is now part of the State of Iowa's Scenic By-Way program.


The Prairie Heritage Center is located in Northwest Quarter of Section 26 in Waterman Township, within two miles of the junction of Buena Vista, Cherokee, Clay and O'Brien counties . The building site covers approximately 38 acres for the building, displays and activities, plus 235 acres of adjacent prairie and preserved public lands. It also serves as a staging point for various excursions in the surrounding public areas.


The Prairie Heritage Center provides classrooms, exhibit areas, demonstration plots and interpretive trails to aid in increasing the public's understanding of the prairie ecosystem and history of the area.  Regular, year-round environmental education programs for school groups, 4-H groups, scout groups and the general public are presented at the center by staff naturalists and guest speakers.  Rooms for public meetings are available at the center.  The center also serves to collect and disseminate information relating the environmental issues in the region.


    Inkpaduta and his fearsome band of followers used the waterways of the Waterman Area for transportation.  In 1857 they stopped at the Waterman cabin and the Kirchner cabin near Peterson, terrorizing and stealing from the settlers before continuing on to Okoboji where the famous massacre took place.  This was the last Indian uprising in the area. Inkpaduta's canoe trail can be visited and canoed today.
    In July of 1933 the Barrow gang, a roving band of bank robbing outlaws hid out in the Waterman Area after robbing an Everly bank.  Their leaders, the infamous Bonnie & Clyde Barrow spoke with a local resident, ate pheasant and hid from their pursuers.
Regular, year-round environmental education programs for school groups, 4-H groups, scout groups and the general public are presented at the center by staff naturalists and guest speakers.  

Visit the following websites for news and a list of events happening in and around O'Brien County:
Prairie Heritage Center
O'Brien County via
O'Brien County Calendar of Events

Also on Facebook:
Prairie Heritage Center
O'Brien County Conservation Board

Visit the Prairie Heritage Center website or contact O'Brien County Conservation Board. Although the initial fundraiser is complete, donations, in money or in kind, are welcome to support programming and facility improvements. 





You can purchase an engraved memorial brick for placement in the entryway of Prairie Heritage Center. The bricks for the Prairie Heritage Center are $100.00 each.

Engraving for one brick is maximum of 3 lines with 14 letters per line - spaces and punctuation count as letters.

Mail the completed Brick Order Form and a check to:

Little Sioux Valley Conservation Association, 4931 Yellow Avenue, Peterson, IA 51047

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Another easy way to raise money for the Little Sioux Valley Conservation Association.  Start by using Yahoo! powered as your search engine and they'll donate about a penny to the Little Sioux Valley Conservation Association every time you do a search!

In addition, do all of your shopping through their online shopping mall,, where you can shop at more than 2,600 top online retailers and a percentage of your purchases will go to the Little Sioux Valley Conservation Association. You pay the same price as you normally would, but a donation goes to a good cause!

You can also enroll in the GoodDining program. Eat at over 10,000 participating restaurants nationwide and you can earn up to 6% of every dollar spent on the meal as a donation for the Little Sioux Valley Conservation Association.

Gamers, you too can help to raise additional funds for the Little Sioux Valley Conservation Association.  Simply play the on-line games on GoodGames website at no additional cost and you will be helping to raise additional funding so that we can continue to grow at the Prairie Heritage Center!  Happy Gaming!

To get started, simply click on the icon below, click on Pick Who You Want To Help, and type in the Little Sioux Valley Conservation Association.  There is no cost to you, but there are great advantages to continue the Little Sioux Valley Conservation Association's educational efforts at the Prairie Heritage Center. 


GoodSearch: You Search...We Give!

O'Brien County Conservation Board 
4931 Yellow Avenue
Peterson, IA 51047