Pottawattamie County Conservation Welcomes New Executive Director, Jeff Franco

Posted July 3, 2024
Posted by: Public Relations

Council Bluffs, IA- The Pottawattamie County Conservation Board is proud to announce that Jeff Franco, previous deputy director for Pottawattamie County Conservation, will lead the organization as executive director effective July 1st, 2024.

In his new role Franco will lead the direction of the department as well as operations at Mt. Crescent Ski Area, including implementing the park’s master plan to expand four-season recreation opportunities, which will be released later this year.

“We are confident that his knowledge, experience, and leadership will guide this team through more exciting changes as we work to fulfill our mission, which is to provide meaningful opportunities for all ages to engage with our unique and beautiful natural resources,” said Pottawattamie County Conservation Board president Eric Hough.

Franco began with Pottawattamie County Conservation as an intern with the Natural Areas Management department in 2011, returning in 2016 as operations supervisor. He has served as the organization’s deputy director since 2021. During his time in the department, Franco secured major grant funding for park renovation projects, oversaw day-to-day operations, managed citizen science projects, and headed up improvement efforts at Mt. Crescent Ski Area after the county began managing the property in July of 2022.

More recently Franco helped guide the organization through the construction of the sustainably designed, locally sourced Heartwood Pavilion at Hitchcock Nature Center and served as project manager for the installation of a new, state-of-the-art snowmaking system that will support Mt. Crescent’s ski, snowboard, and sledding operations through marginal winter temperatures.

The search for a new executive director was prompted in March when Mark Shoemaker announced his retirement from the department after 30 years of service. Serving as executive director since 1997, Shoemaker will celebrate his last day on August 30th, 2024.

“It’s a privilege to follow in the footsteps of Mark Shoemaker as he’s done so much for conservation and tourism in our area, and I can only hope to continue the good work he’s accomplished over his career,” Franco said. “Fortunately, we have some of the most talented, dedicated, and hard-working staff in the field of conservation. It’s a humbling thought to know I’ll continue working alongside them in this capacity.”


About Pottawattamie Conservation: Pottawattamie Conservation promotes an appreciation for Iowa's unique natural areas through year-round environmental education programming, natural resource management, habitat restoration, as well as many recreational activities at six county parks. Whether you enjoy hiking, camping, fishing, or just want to learn something new, Pottawattamie Conservation offers exceptional opportunities to experience and explore the outdoors. Visit,

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