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Partnership Co-Chairs Jack Lauer and Steve Sodeman honor Heidi. Photo Courtesy of Alex Prentice

Partnership Co-Chairs Jack Lauer and Steve Sodeman honor Heidi. Photo Courtesy of Alex Prentice.

Biologist Heidi Keuler Recognized for Outstanding Work

The Fishers & Farmers Partnership for the Upper Mississippi River Basin (FFP) is a self-directed group of interested, non-governmental agricultural and conservation organizations, tribal organizations, and state and federal agencies working "to support locally led projects that add value to farms while restoring aquatic habitat and native fish populations." The Fishers & Farmers Partnership is organized and recognized under the National Fish Habitat Partnership (NFHP) and brings science and technical expertise to locally directed projects throughout the Upper Mississippi River Basin including Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri and Wisconsin.

Service staff help guide the work of the partnership, which fosters collaborative conservation projects between farming landowners and natural resource managers. Using innovative strategies for land use and stream restoration, the partnership has designed practices to benefit farms and aquatic habitats.

For instance, to improve water quality, Dave Dunn and his wife, Charlotte, installed grass buffer strips along creeks on their land in Missouri, put up fences and installed alternate watering systems for cattle. The project cost them some production land, but managing cattle was easier with the fencing, water quality improved after just a year, and the clearer water has meant cattle with fewer waterborne diseases.

Service biologist Heidi Keuler is coordinator of the Fishers and Farmers Partnership for the Upper Mississippi River Basin. Photo courtesy of Minnesota DNR
Service biologist Heidi Keuler is coordinator of the Fishers and Farmers Partnership for the Upper Mississippi River Basin. Photo courtesy of Minnesota DNR.

The following letter was presented to La Crosse Fish and Wildlife Conservation Office biologist Heidi Keuler, in recognition of her fantastic work as the Fishers & Farmers Partnership coordinator:

On behalf of the Steering Committee of the Fishers & Farmers Fish Habitat Partnership (FFP), we present you this letter in recognition and appreciation of your services as coordinator for FFP. Your leadership and professionalism have been an invaluable asset to the development, function and motivation of a rather unique partnership. FFP was created to address the needs of both farmers and fishes across the Upper Mississippi River Basin—farmers because of the significance of agriculture in shaping our landscape and our communities, and fishes because of their importance as both a natural resource and an indicator of the ecological health of the Basin. To make the Partnership relevant and representative we include a diversity of stakeholders representing state natural resource agencies, non-governmental organizations working on behalf of environmental issues, and—perhaps most importantly—agricultural landowners and organizations that work and speak on their behalf. Agricultural representation in FFP is so important because nearly all our projects are on private lands, requiring landowner cooperation and engagement as a prerequisite for success. It is these characteristics of the Partnership and the Basin that present an organizational challenge and need for a skilled coordinator. Our successes to date as a Partnership are in no small part attributable to your guidance as coordinator. Simply put, we couldn't do it without you.

The accomplishments you have achieved as coordinator are many and varied. To list but a few, you have:

  • Exhibited an attention to detail, organization and timely guidance to ensure the successful funding and implementation of farmer-led projects
  • Expanded the reach and representation of FFP with your efforts to bring in new members
  • Secured multi-state grant funds to support stakeholder engagement training in Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri and Wisconsin
  • Engaged other partnerships and Fish Habitat Partnership staff at the national level, and in doing so have helped to attain a high profile for FFP
  • Earned the respect of all interests on the Steering Committee with your cooperative spirit and skill at bringing together partners from diverse backgrounds and helping them to work together on common goals

Heidi, we have been pleased and rewarded with your leadership in FFP. You play an invaluable role in keeping us on task and in making the most out of what each of us can contribute to FFP. Thank you for your service as FFP coordinator. We look forward to continuing to work with you to further build upon the successes FFP has achieved with your leadership, service and professional support.

By Scott Yess,
La Crosse Fish and Wildlife Conservation Office

Last updated: January 7, 2015