2016 Outstanding Conservationist for Kandiyohi SWCD 

LeRoy and Kathy Ruud of Lake Lillian are the 2016 Outstanding Conservationists for Kandiyohi County. They operate a 1,400 acre farm with a crop rotation consisting of corn, soybean, peas, wheat, and sweet corn.  LeRoy is a second generation farmer to farm this land and their son Justin will be the third.

LeRoy participates in the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) using conservation methods like conservation tillage, residue management, and installing cover crops this fall.  The Ruud's are also involved with the Minnesota Agricultural Water Quality Certification Program (MAWQCP), using best management and conservation practices.

Over the years the Ruud's have planted a living snow fence, installed numerous buffers next to their ditches using native grasses and forbs, planted two field windbreaks, and recently completed a farmstead windbreak renovation.  LeRoy hopes to leave the land better than when they started.

2016 MASWCD Teacher of the Year

The Kandiyohi  SWCD is excited to announce Laura Molenaar, fifth grade teacher from New London Spicer (NLS) schools, has been selected for the 2016 Outstanding Teacher Award from the Minnesota Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts (MASWCD).

The Kandiyohi SWCD nominated Laura Molenaar for the Outstanding Teacher Award for her creative and innovative approach to conservation education with hands on activities for reaching students. The SWCD has worked with Laura on several educational natual resources projects on the NLS School property to develop one on the finest outdoor classrooms in Minnesota.

Laura is credited with helping to establish a Forestry Arboretum with interpretive signage on school grounds.  The arboretum provides many students the opportunity to learn forestry concepts as well as species identification.  After establishing the Arboretum, Laura organized the preservation and restoration of an Oak Savanna area of school property. Volunteers helped remove invasive species to benefit the mixed oaks and prairie wetland on the school grounds.  More recently Laura and her students helped to restore a drained prairie wetland on the school grounds. The restored prairie pothole provides further opportunity for students to learn about aquatic species and water quality in their outdoor classroom.  

These fantastic natural areas are open to the public year round.  Many people have been observed visiting the prairie throughout the year especially in August when the prairie is in bloom.  The results are "stunning to the eye" as Laura likes to say. 

Laura is also a contributor to the University of Minnesota Research Project.  Monarch Butterfly research and data collection is another way that Laura utilizes the outdoor classroom to insprire potential young scientists.  The fact that many of her students have gone on to pursue careers in the field of science is a testament to Laura's excitement and commitment to Science and Education.

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