Del and Shirley Wehrspann moved to Montevideo, Minnesota to have both, a rural life in agriculture with the scenic beauty of the Upper Minnesota River Valley and a community involved in improving the environment and its natural resources. Through Catfish Invitationals, their own private land use, years of building relationships with agencies, local municipal workers and private citizens, a cultural awareness has started to take hold here for the benefit of the Minnesota River.
Six years after the signing of the Treaty of Traverse Des Sioux in St. Peter, and five years before the Dakota Conflict, Garfield Eckberg's ancestors arrived from Sweden to claim their land. Just north of North America's largest prairie pothole lake, known as Swan Lake, the fifth generation of the Eckberg family continues to farm the land. Garfield represented the Farm Bureau on Governor Arne Carlson's Citizens' Advisory Committee and stood behind the recommendations they made to clean up the Minnesota River in 1994.
"To me, it's about community. It's about collaboration and it's about love. Feel that you're a part of something much bigger, that we are a part of this planet and this river is like one of the arteries of the planet and it's alive. It's about helping people connect and inspire and be who they truly are in this relationship with nature," said Patrick Moore, community organizer and leader at Clean Up the River Environment (CURE) for fourteen years in the Upper Minnesota River Valley.
Lynne Kolze believes in the power of everyday citizens to lead the way to solutions for complex water problems. She has been working at the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency to provide authentic opportunities in the watersheds of Minnesota for this to happen through civic engagement, starting with the Minnesota River Citizen Advisory Committee back in 1992.
David Minge helps bring everyone to the table when it comes to celebrating and cleaning up the Minnesota River. From the legal incorporation of CURE in a small western Minnesota town, to a unique conservation effort to save 100,000 acres of floodplain on a federal and state level, his skills have served many beyond this particular watershed.
The country school house has brought additional benefits to Dave Craigmile and his family's farm in Boyd, Minnesota - specifically, a good well to provide groundwater where the local aquifer limited access to the water supply. The safety of groundwater and its conservation in his life as a farmer has played a large role ever since.