A notable person in our community passed away this week. Mildred Grimes was perhaps most notably known for the Nature Center at Grimes Farm. Mildred and her husband had tended the farm with TLC by planting trees, restoring wetlands, and reintroducing prairie. They donated the farm to conservation groups for all to use as an educational and recreational facility.
Mildred is pictured in the middle of this snapshot from the Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation. Today there is a nature center managed by the local Conservation Board. The place holds a special place in my heart as I wrote a grant that helped build the nature center.
Here’s a bit of an article by local state legislator, Mark Smith, reflecting on Mildred:
My grandfather was an eighth grade educated Iowa farmer who lived by these simple rules: feed your family, honor the soil, and be a good neighbor. Nothing could better describe Mildred Grimes. Anyone who knew her was aware of how valuable family was to her. She honored the soil by working constantly to return the land to its native conditions. She was a good neighbor who always found the best in everyone.
Mildred was not without enemies. But her enemies were plants that had been imported and provided environmental contamination: Reed’s Canary, Multiflora Rose, and Musk Thistle were some of her archenemies. There was not a person on her list of enemies.
Mildred’s husband served as a successful Marshalltown area attorney for many years. He was Mayor of Marshalltown. Mildred supported everything he did. In 1965, he and Mildred purchased their farm and began to work more actively for land conservation. Together they began efforts that resulted in the development of the Grimes Farm Nature Center.
As a result of Mildred and Leonard’s generous donation, Mildred’s love of nature will live for years to come. Each time a child visits the Nature Center and experiences the natural environment and wildlife, Mildred’s teaching will be present.