Inside Region 3
Midwest Region
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Meet Union Slough National Wildlife Refuge
and Iowa Wetland Management District

Union Slough National Wildlife Refuge is located in north central Iowa, approximately 55 miles north of Fort Dodge, Iowa, or 160 miles southwest of Minneapolis, Minnesota. Franklin D. Roosevelt established the refuge September 14, 1938 as “a refuge and breeding ground for migratory birds and other wildlife”. The name “Union” refers to the connection of two watersheds, the Blue Earth River, which flows north and the east fork of the Des Moines River, which flows south. Native Americans called the area Mini Akapan Kaduza, meaning, “water which runs both ways”. Before European settlement, the location of the refuge was so level the wind determined which way the water flowed. Union Slough National Wildlife Refuge consists of 3,343 acres of which 2,141 acres is upland and 1,202 acres is wetland. This mix of wetlands and grasslands is a highly productive community in a region dominated by agriculture.

The Iowa Wetland Management District is operated out of the same office as Union Slough National Wildlife Refuge. However, the Wetland Management District is different than most others in that the Iowa Department of Natural Resources directly manages many of the Waterfowl Production Areas. This partnership is done through a memorandum of understanding and has been working very well. The Wetland Management District covers 35 counties in the Prairie Pothole Region of Iowa with 75 Waterfowl Production Areas scattered across 18 of them. In total, there are more than 25,000 acres under management in the district. The American Audubon Society recognizes some of the Waterfowl Production Areas as part of 12 Important Bird Areas and five Iowa Bird Conservation Areas.

Ed Meendering

Lindsey Landowski

Ed Meendering has been the Refuge Manager at Union Slough National Wildlife Refuge and the Iowa Wetland Management District since August 2015. Ed grew up in Northwest Iowa and worked for the Iowa Department of Natural Resources and the Osceola County Conservation Board. Ed received his B.S. degree in Fisheries and Wildlife Biology from Iowa State University in 1994. After graduation he moved to North Dakota where he worked for the past 21 years. Ed started at Audubon National Wildlife Refuge, North Dakota, as a volunteer and was later hired to a term position as the station’s Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program Biologist. He then received his first permanent position at Chase Lake National Wildlife Refuge, North Dakota, as the station’s Biological Science Technician. From there Ed moved to Kulm Wetland Management District, North Dakota, as a Wildlife Refuge Specialist and Valley City Wetland Management District, North Dakota, as the District Manager. His last position in North Dakota was the Deputy Refuge Manager at Long Lake National Wildlife Refuge. From the time Ed was growing up till now, he’s noticed what others have done for the Iowa Wetland Management District and hopes to continue their efforts. Ed enjoys spending time with his family, hunting, fishing and attending youth sporting events.   

Anne Szelag

Lindsey Landowski

Anne Szelag is a native of Chattanooga, Tennessee, and has served as Administrative Technician at Union Slough National Wildlife Refuge for almost 19 years. She performs many office functions such as budget reconciliation, requisitioning and many other administrative duties. She began her Service career in the Alaska Region Division of Engineering but has also worked for the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Small Business Administration. She has 26 years of Federal service. One of the most challenging and rewarding parts of her job is working with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources partners on a regular basis. She enjoys bird watching and finds the migratory seasons provide a pleasant distraction to her duties. Anne enjoys spending time with family and traveling with her husband as well as spoiling her many cats.

Chad Loreth

Lindsey Landowski

Chad Loreth is the South Zone Wildland Urban Interface Coordinator and Fire Management Specialist at Union Slough National Wildlife Refuge. He coordinates the prescribed fire operations for Union Slough National Wildlife Refuge and the Iowa Wetland Management District, which covers 35 counties in the Prairie Pothole Region of Iowa. Originally from Sioux City, Iowa, he completed his B.S. degree in Forest Resource Management at Iowa State University. Prior to his present position, Chad served as the Wildland Urban Interface Coordinator for Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri and Illinois for the Midwest Region and was stationed at Crane Meadows National Wildlife Refuge from 2003-2005. He currently is stationed at the Northwest Iowa Fire Management Office in Milford, Iowa. He began his career in 1992 and also has worked for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, Iowa Department of Natural Resources, Iowa Heartland Resource Conservation and Development and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. He enjoys fishing, hunting and retriever training. Chad likes the competition aspect of his outdoor hobbies and participates each winter in ice fishing tournaments. He’s a competitive dog trainer who likes competing in field trials and hunt tests with his wife and their black labrador retrievers, Maverick and Cooper.

Erich Gilbert

Lindsey Landowski

Erich Gilbert has served as the Wildlife Refuge Specialist at Union Slough National Wildlife Refuge/Iowa Wetland Management District since 2004. He holds a B.S. in Wildlife and Fisheries Sciences from South Dakota State University. He started his career around 1990 as a seasonal Biological Technician working in North Dakota and Minnesota for Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center. From there, Erich worked in varying capacities for Benton Lake National Wildlife Refuge and Ecological Services in Montana, Fish Springs National Wildlife Refuge in Utah, and Kirwin National Wildlife Refuge in Kansas. In his current position, Erich enjoys the staff’s collective challenge of restoring prairie pothole habitat amid the intensive agriculture of northern Iowa. He particularly enjoys restoring cropland to native habitat and watching trumpeter swans, Wilson’s phalaropes and white-tailed jackrabbits raise young there for the first time in 100 years. Nesting short-eared owls are next on his restoration bucket list. Erich grew up in Madison, South Dakota, where his father Dave served as the District Manager at the Madison Wetland Management District and later as the Regional Aviation Manager. Erich enjoys music, hunting, fishing, spending time with his family and passively following Nebraska football. Erich is reluctantly regarded a world-class expert in hunting chukars with wiener dogs.

Kody Goodge

Lindsey Landowski

Kody Goodge has served as a Maintenance Worker at Union Slough National Wildlife Refuge since January 2016. Kody grew up in Pennsylvania and started his career through the Student Temporary Employment Program and then was accepted into the Pathways Program as a Maintenance Helper. He has served with the Service for almost six years, working previously at Erie National Wildlife Refuge in Northwest Pennsylvania, from 2010-2015, and Eastern Massachusetts National Wildlife Refuge Complex, Massachusetts, in 2015. He earned his B.S. degree in Marketing from Pennsylvania State University - Erie, The Behrend College in December 2014. Kody’s duties involve maintaining facilities, equipment, and assisting with restoration and maintenance of prairie habitat. In his free time, Kody enjoys watching hockey and football, hunting, fishing, camping and working on his trucks.

Tom Skilling

Lindsey Landowski

Tom Skilling joined Union Slough National Wildlife Refuge/Iowa Wetland Management District in April 1991 as a temporary Biological Technician with a focus on helping private landowners restore habitat on their ground. He became the permanent Private Lands Biologist in April of 1992. Tom continued working with private landowners to restore wildlife habitat until becoming the station Wildlife Biologist in December of 2002. He holds a B.S. degree in Fisheries and Wildlife Biology from Iowa State University. Tom is responsible for coordination and implementation of the refuge's biological program, which includes habitat management planning, inventory and monitoring. He is also heavily involved with the Refuge’s prairie reconstruction and wetland restoration programs. Tom enjoys spending time with family, fishing, hiking and reading.


Last updated: March 3, 2016