In 1968, the College acquired these 365 acres and named the area to honor Grinnell botany professor Henry S. Conard. Forty-five acres of cropland were planted with prairie grasses and a laboratory, apartment for a manager, and 14-acre pond were constructed.
In 1987, an additional 80 acres of cropland were planted with prairie grasses. Between 1990 and 1996, over 30 of these acres along the entrance road and south of the lab were supplemented with forbs. An annual program of burning and clearing was instituted to restore 50 acres of degraded oak savanna and woodland. Seeding, burning, clearing, and exotic species control are continually used to maintain and increase the diversity of habitats and native species throughout CERA.
In 1997, experimental burned and unburned plots were established in both prairie and oak forest. A series of 300-gallon experimental ponds was also installed on the edge of the 14-acre pond.
Henry S. Conard
During 39 years as professor of botany at Grinnell College, Henry Shoemaker Conard earned international recognition as an authority on mosses and water lilies. His comprehensive knowledge of Iowa's natural history led to numerous publications, including Plants of Iowa, now in its seventh edition. A charter member of the Iowa Conservation Hall of Fame, he was honored by the Botanical Society of America on its 50th anniversary as a "taxonomist, morphologist, mycologist, ecologist, bryologist...and above all a beloved teacher."
A native of Pennsylvania, Henry Conard completed B.S. and M.A. degrees at Haverford College and a Ph.D. at the University of Pennsylvania. He taught at several other institutions before joining the Grinnell faculty in 1906. He retired to Florida in 1944, where he continued his research and publishing until his death in 1971 at 97. In his extraordinary lifetime, he combined boundless enthusiasm and energy with a keen awareness of the natural environment. He was a source of inspiration to his students and a substantial contributor to botanical knowledge.