Outstanding Conservationist

Minnesota Lake, MN – The Blue Earth County Soil & Water Conservation District (SWCD) Board recognized Tod and Connie Stokman as their 2023 Outstanding Conservationist.

Background: Tod and Connie Stokman have a passion for wildlife, the habitat the wildlife uses and the conservation of all things natural. It all started when Tod’s grandfather, Henry, bought the original farm ground in the late 1920’s. It was approximately 400 acres, and he built the home that Tod and Connie live in today. Tod’s father, William, sold a majority of the farm ground to the Minnesota DNR, as it was becoming too wet to farm. In tribute of this humble act, the Minnesota DNR named the area “Stokman Wildlife Management Area.”

While Stokman’s still have some farm ground, most of it is wildlife habitat. Most recently Tod worked closely with the Soil and Water Conservation District to restore approximately eight acres of farm ground, into beautiful wildlife habitat. Working alongside Tod and gathering his input and opinions, the SWCD developed a plan to include the planting of over 700 trees and seeding over seven acres back into native vegetation. Tod rented the SWCD’s tree planter to plant over 500 Redosier Dogwoods, 130 Nannyberries and 90 Norway and Meyer Spruce trees. The vegetation that Tod hired the SWCD to plant included a mix of over nine different native grasses and thirty different species of wildflowers.

The trees will serve as a windbreak for different wildlife species to use for shelter during storms, as well as protection from predation. Also, this windbreak will help cut down on wind erosion, intercepting any adjacent nutrient runoff and stabilizing the shoreland of their wetland. The native grasses will provide valuable nesting cover for birds, bedding areas for deer and their deep roots can improve water quality, anchor the soil in place and sequester carbon. The wildflowers will provide valuable nectar throughout the growing season for our native pollinators!

These and many more reasons are why they’re the Blue Earth Soil and Water Conservation District’s 2023 Outstanding Conservationist of the Year.

Minnesota Association of Soil & Water Conservation Districts (MASWCD) will name eight finalists, one from each area throughout the state of Minnesota. During the 87th annual MASWCD Annual Convention luncheon on December 13th, one of those area finalists will be awarded the State Outstanding Conservationist Award. The award recognizes farm families, individuals, conservation organizations, and other groups for their accomplishments in implementing conservation practices and improving Minnesota’s natural resources.

Previous Outstanding Conservationists

2022 Outstanding Conservationist: Scott and Janet Hermel

2021 Outstanding Conservationist: KD2 Farms

2019 Outstanding Conservationist: Bernie Paulson

2018 Outstanding Conservationist: Harold Loeffler

2016 Outstanding Conservationist: Krahling Farms

2015 Outstanding Conservationist: Mike Roll, Crystal Waters Project

2014 Outstanding Conservationist: Roger and Dawn Hubmer

2013 Outstanding Conservationist: Wingen Farms

2012 Outstanding Conservationist: Gary and Faith Borgmeier

2011 Outstanding Conservationist: Steven and Shirley Rose

2010 Outstanding Conservationist: Dale Westphal

Every year the Blue Earth County SWCD chooses to recognize individuals or organizations in the County for outstanding conservation accomplishments through education or project implementation. We want to acknowledge those who help improve Minnesota’s natural resources. Those nominated are honored each year at the Minnesota Association of Soil and Water Conservation District (MASWCD) convention in early December.

Do you know an individual or organization who deserves to be called an Outstanding Conservationist? Please send your nominations to Jerad Bach!