Journal Express, Knoxville, IA

April 26, 2013

Conservation a family business for Edwards

By Steve Woodhouse Editor
The Journal Express

---- — Cale Edwards, Knoxville High School Class of 2007 alumnus, recently became the third generation of his family to embark on a career as a County Conservation Director, following in the footsteps of father, Steve, and grandfather, Jack.

“It kind of runs in the family,” Cale said after recently being promoted to Hancock County Conservation Director. Steve Edwards is Marion County’s Conservation Director, and Jack Edwards was a Conservation Officer for Wright and Hancock Counties for 27 years, before retiring in the late 1980s.

“I just enjoy being outside and making contact with the public,” Cale said. This was passed on to him from Steve, who said Jack instilled him with an appreciation for the outdoors. Steve’s career began with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, working in a multi-county district. When a director’s position opened in Marion County, 34 years ago, he applied and got the job.

Steve’s brother, Mark, also worked as a Conservation Officer with the DNR for 31 years. Mark’s son, Justin, has a degree in Forestry and Steve believes he may seek a Master’s Degree.

“I think it gives us a sense of pride,” Steve said of so many family members following in Jack’s footsteps. “(Cale) was pretty dedicated to getting into the field. I know Dad was real happy when Cale got the job.”

Steve said he never nudged Cale to follow in his footsteps. He noticed his son showed an interest in working in conservation in high school. The decision to carry on the tradition was left to Cale.

“You’ve got to like what you’re doing,” Steve said. “The key is getting your foot in the door.”

“My parents were open to whatever I wanted to do,” Cale said.

Experience in the field is critical when landing a job, Steve added. Cale was able to get some experience by working for the Marion County Conservation Board in 2008.

Cale attended Iowa State University and majored in Animal Ecology, with a wildlife option. This is the major necessary to enter in the Natural Resources field. He graduated in the spring of 2012, with the head start of having the experience he gained in Marion County.

Though Cale and Steve were both employed by Marion County Conservation at the same time, Cale said they never really worked together. Cale worked for the rangers, and only occasionally ran into Steve. Rick Harris served as Cale’s boss.

“I really enjoyed working for him,” Cale said of Harris.

Steve said he taught Cale to set career goals and go after them.

“Being a director was always my goal,” Cale said. “I like it up here.”