Driftless Center makes list of best State and County Parks, garners engineering award

The Driftless Area Education and Visitors Center in Lansing was awarded the American Council of Engineering Companies-Iowa Engineering Excellence Honor Award. Pictured above at the May 9 annual meeting award dinner where the honor was bestowed are, left to right, Fehr Graham’s West Union Branch Manager Jon Biederman, American Council of Engineering Companies-Iowa President André Gallet, Fehr Graham Project Manager Lyle TeKippe and Allamakee County Conservation Director Jim Janett. Submitted photo.

by Lissa Blake

The Driftless Area Education and Visitors Center in Lansing has been named among the Best of Iowa’s State and County Parks. The ranking, compiled by traveliowa.com, lists the Center as one of Iowa’s “Can’t Miss Nature Centers.”

The Driftless Center listing can be found amongst a number of other attractions listed online at www.traveliowa.com/getinspireddetails/the-best-of-iowa-s-state-and-count...

“Visitors can tour the property and view the interpretive and dimensional displays housed at the Center which cover topics such as geology, limnology (rivers/streams), archeology, wildlife studies, river town industries and economies, American Indian cultures and more. The Center will provide meeting and office space for public use, classrooms and group learning areas, multiple observation decks and more,” the descriptive listing reads on the travel iowa.com website.

The listing also highlights the Center as being accessible to persons with disabilities, having free public Internet access and motorcoach parking.

Allamakee County Conservation Board Director Jim Janett said the recognition “really reflects on the quality of the project,” noting most of the other education centers named to the list are in larger metropolitan areas.

“It’s nice that we’re right up there,” added Janett.

Janett said there are more than 72 county conservation centers in Iowa, so to make the list “really reflects a lot of hard work from staff, board members, foundation members and donors. It’s nice to turn a good product and see that recognition.”

In addition, Janett said the Center’s visitor base continues to grow. “So far we’ve logged visitors from 17 different countries and 41 different states,” he said.

He said looking ahead to this summer’s season, the bee display is back, the number of visitors is increasing and more people are stepping up to volunteer at the Center all the time. “We couldn’t do it without our wonderful set of volunteers,” he said.

In a related matter further proving the notoriety of the Center, another accolade recently was received by the project engineering firm of Fehr Graham for its work on the Driftless Center project. The company received the 2018 American Council of Engineering Companies - Iowa Engineering Excellence Honor Award.

The Engineering Excellence Awards Competition recognizes some of the best projects in the state. Honor Awards are given to only two recipients in the state, recognized for exceptional engineering that meet the needs of the client and benefit public welfare. Achievement Awards are given for those projects worthy of recognition for the engineer and the client.

The Allamakee County Driftless Area Education and Visitors Center was designed and built on land formed more than 12,500 years ago as a tribute to the unique land, water and history surrounding it. Fehr Graham handled all aspects of civil engineering and project coordination on the 10,000-square-foot building, which opened to the public in 2017. Janett and Jon Biederman and Lyle TeKippe from Fehr Graham accepted the award at the Iowa Annual Meetings Award Dinner held May 9.

“The Fehr Graham team was happy to be part of this important project for Allamakee County,” said Lyle Tekippe, Fehr Graham project manager. “We are delighted to share this honor with the Allamakee County Conservation Board for having this vision and making it a reality.”

To learn more about the Driftless Area Education and Visitors Center, visit www.allamakeecountyconservation.org.

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