Jared McGovern

Director of The Wanderwood Gardens

The Wanderwood Gardens Appoints Jared McGovern as Director, Paving the Way for Enchanting Woodland Play in Dubuque.

The Wanderwood Gardens, an immersive woodland playground for day-dreamers of all ages that is currently under construction in Dubuque, is elated to announce the appointment of Jared McGovern, long-time Dubuque educator and conservation leader, as their Director.

Jared McGovern, a Peosta, IA native, is a devoted husband, father, and nature enthusiast. Jared's passion for environmental education led to him studying Conservation and Environmental Interpretation/Education at Iowa State University and later receiving Master’s in Organizational Leadership from Clarke University in 2018.

Throughout his career, Jared worked at various organizations nationwide. Most notably in Dubuque, Jared was the Director of Conservation Programs at the National Mississippi River Museum and Aquarium. Holding many positions and responsibilities throughout the years at the National Mississippi River Museum & Aquarium, he was highly valued and demonstrated his dedication to conservation and education for a total of 14 wonderful years.

His commitment earned him the 2021 Bohemil Shimek Environmental Educator Award for Outstanding Efforts by an Environmental Educator by the Iowa Conservation Education Coalition and the Iowa Association of Naturalists for his work engaging youth with freshwater mussel restoration. Also in 2021 Jared was recognized as a “Rising Star'' in Dubuque by the Telegraph Herald Biz Times.

We are thrilled to welcome Jared McGovern as our Director of The Wanderwood Gardens. Jared's passion for environmental education and his deep roots within the Dubuque community make him the perfect fit for this role. With his guidance, we are confident that The Wanderwood Gardens will be a space where dreams and nature harmoniously blend, leaving a lasting impact on all who visit.

– Debi Butler – Founder, The Wanderwood Gardens

As Director, Jared McGovern will play a pivotal role in ensuring the successful development and seamless operation of The Wanderwood Gardens. His extensive experience in education and conservation makes him the ideal candidate to curate an enriching experience for visitors while maintaining a strong commitment to ecological sustainability.

The Wanderwood Gardens is set to open its gates in Spring 2025, welcoming adventurers and day-dreamers of all ages to embark on an unforgettable play experience. This unique destination will feature interactive art, nature-inspired play areas, and educational programs to encourage a deep appreciation for the natural world.

About The Wanderwood Gardens

Coming Spring 2025, The Wanderwood Gardens is an enchanting setting for discovery and imaginative play. This new children’s garden will cultivate children’s relationships with the outdoors through interacting with the natural and manmade playgrounds surrounding them. The gardens are filled with a variety of flowers, trees, and plants, with magical activity areas and winding paths that lead to hidden nooks and crannies, creating an active nature’s playground for all ages. The Wanderwood Gardens will be connected to The Dubuque Arboretum and located at 3800 Arboretum Dr in Dubuque, Iowa. For more information, please visit and follow @wanderwoodgardens on Facebook and Instagram.

About The Dubuque Arboretum & Botanical Gardens

The Dubuque Arboretum is a 56-acre botanical garden located in Dubuque, Iowa. The arboretum is home to a variety of plants and trees, as well as a number of educational programs and events. The Dubuque Arboretum is a non-profit organization dedicated to the education and enjoyment of plants and nature. For more information, please visit


Marissa Myers
The Wanderwood Gardens Press Contact
The Wanderwood Gardens

Inspiring Lives
through Creative
Outdoor Play.SM


Summer 2025