Rod & Connie French Conservation Camp


French Conservation Camp

Main office building at French Conservation CampThe Rod & Connie French Conservation Education Camp was established through a donation by Rod and Connie French to Iowa State University. The facility is operated by Department of Natural Resource Ecology & Management as a space for hands-on field education in forestry, fisheries and wildlife. 

The French Camp is situated in the Fish Creek valley, approximately 50 minutes west of Missoula, Montana.  Fish Creek is among the most un-developed tributary watersheds in the Clark Fork basin, and thus represents a key stronghold for several sensitive fish species, including the threatened bull trout and the iconic west-slope cutthroat. Along the Idaho border just west of the camp are a series of roadless areas that serve as valuable habitat and migration corridors for elk, moose, bears, mountain lions, wolverines, and much more. The French Camp property is surrounded by Lolo National Forest and is near Fish Creek State Park and Fish Creek Wildlife Management Areas. This wild and rugged ecosystem contrasts markedly with the predominantly agricultural, managed ecosystem surrounding Iowa State University, and courses in this setting offer memorable experiences and valuable perspective to visiting students.


Camp Facilities

After renovations during the 2016-2017 academic year, the French Conservation Education Camp will be equipped to accommodate up to 50 students and instructors for as many as 3 concurrent courses. The camp consists of two properties: the main camp property and the Bailey property, located a half-mile west along the West Fork Fish Creek Road. These can be operated independently for separate classes, or the Bailey property may serve as additional lodging for larger groups. 

The Department of Natural Resources Ecology & Management is committed to exemplary stewardship of the natural amenities surrounding the French Camp, and welcomes opportunities to serve and collaborate with conservation organizations, state and federal agency partners, and academic institutions.

Summer 2017 courses

Join us in Montana this summer for one of three exciting field courses! There is no better way to learn the material, while gaining important practical skills that may help you land a future job, than hands-on in the field. Get excited to spend a lot of time outdoors, in a beautiful setting, with top-notch instructors who will help you learn to DO science and natural resource management, not just read about it. You can check off major requirements or credits, while also getting a one-of-a-kind experience in this incredible ecosystem.

To learn more, just email one of the professors of the course you are interested in (last names in italics at the end of each course description) to set up a short meeting! We would be happy to talk with you and sign your enrollment form.

Summer 2017 course listings  (course fee includes transportation from Ames, food and lodging!, but not tuition. Check with the registrar and financial aid office about tuition costs per credit hour for summer session.)

Dates credits course fee Description
6/10/17-7/2/17 3 $900 NREM 496B. sec. 1. Wildlife Population Methods. Sure, knowing whether animal populations are growing or shrinking is crucial to conservation, management, and well, all of ecology. But how do you accurately estimate population numbers in the real world, when animals are constantly coming and going, giving birth and dying?  In this course, students will use hands-on techniques in the field to develop their skills in estimating those critical population numbers. (Rentz, Adelman, Roe)
Summer 2018 2 $600 NREM 496B. sec. 2. Forest Fire Fuels Measurement. Practical fire ecology: forest fuel load measurement and quantification techniques for western coniferous forests. Measurement and calculation of key forest structure parameters needed to inform fire behavior models aimed at understanding and managing fire risk. (Wolter)
7/8/17-8/6/17 4 $1200

NREM 496B. sec. 3. Field Ecology. Fundamental principles of ecology, including individual organisms, populations, communities and ecosystems. Fully utilizing our outdoor classroom, students will learn and explore natural phenomenon through qualitative observations and quantitative studies. This may substitute for A ECL/BIOL 312 in the curriculum of A ECL and FOR majors! (Schieltz, Keiser, Russell)


  • French Conservation Camp photo