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Conservation leaders to attend state convention

The 73rd annual convention of the Minnesota Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts (MASWCD) will be held Dec. 6-8 at the Duluth Entertainment Convention Center. This year's theme is "SWCDs - Working Clean, Green, and Lean." The convention will feature grassroots initiatives to conserve soil and water resources in Minnesota.

The Carlton County Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) will be represented by supervisors Barb Dahl, Merrill Loy, Kim Samuelson, Larry Sampson and Mark Thell, as well as by Carlton SWCD manager Brad Matlack.

According to Loy, "This is a great chance for us to learn more about some of the current natural resource issues in the state. The convention always provides us with new ideas that we can use locally."

Dr. Kathleen Allen, the keynote speaker, will provide insights into a new approach to leadership for districts as they work to help manage and protect land and water resources. Dr. Allen is president of her own consulting firm, Allen and Associates, which specializes in leadership coaching and organizational change work in human service non-profit organizations, foundations, higher educational institutions, and collaborative networks.

The convention will also feature a panel presentation and discussion focused on three major sources of grant funding that SWCDs may apply for, the priorities of these grant allocations, and how these grants fit with the mission of SWCDs. Panel speakers will include Dr. Mike Kilgore, U of M Associate Professor, Lessard-Sams Outdoor Heritage Council Chair; Louis Smith, Smith Partners, PLLP, Clean Water Council Member and former Chair; and Shelley Shreffler, Assistant Director of the LCCMR. Two of the grant sources were just recently established through the Constitutional Amendment that Minnesotans voted on in November 2008 - the Outdoor Heritage Fund, overseen by the Lessard-Sams Outdoor Heritage Council, and the Clean Water Fund, overseen by the Clean Water Council. The third, the Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources (LCCMR), was developed from a program initiated in 1963.

In addition to a variety of sessions on conservation topics, the convention will include the MASWCD business meeting, with discussions and votes on natural resource resolutions. Several awards will be presented at a Dec. 7 luncheon, including the Minnesota DNR Division of Waters Appreciation Award, MASWCD/DNR Division of Forestry Outstanding Forest Steward Award, MASWCD/MPCA Outstanding Community Conservationist Award, MASWCD/MnDOT Living Snow Fence Achievement Award, the Outstanding SWCD employee award, and awards for media, teacher, and SWCD supervisor.

Outstanding conservationists from SWCDs across the state will be honored at the convention's Dec. 8 luncheon, sponsored by MASWCD with support from The Farmer magazine. The Gerry and Barb Maunu family of Esko will be honored as outstanding conservationists this year for Carlton County.

"We are proud of the Maunu family for what they have done in conserving natural resources in our area," said Carlton County SWCD Supervisor Larry Sampson who presented their local award to them on Sept. 29. "It's great to be able to recognize the work they have done locally. They have provided a wonderful example for us by their dedication to improving the trout habitat on their property in the Midway Watershed."

Additional information on the event is available on the Association's web site at