Meet the Manager


Photo: Todd Boonstra standing by an informational kiosk by Cathy Nigg/USFWS.

Meet Todd Boonstra, refuge manager for Kankakee National Wildlife Refuge and Conservation Area. Todd picked up the mantle as the project leader for both Kankakee National Wildlife Refuge and Conservation Area and Hackmatack National Wildlife Refuge in late 2018 and brings hands-on experience to the job. 

Todd comes to the Great Lakes Region from Montana where he oversaw operations for more than 15,000 acres of Bowdoin Wetland Management District and functioned as deputy refuge manager and law enforcement officer for the overarching Bowdoin National Wildlife Refuge Complex, where four refuges coalesce. This assignment sharpened an already strong understanding of how to work with local private landowners and organizations to protect or restore prairie and wetlands. Todd was responsible for the development and expansion of the easement program, a voluntary agreement that compensates landowners to keep parts of their land in native habitats like seasonal wetlands and prairies within the wider mosaic of agricultural production and other working lands. 

Partly because of his fluency in general farming and ranching operations and partly because of his strong skills in wetland delineation and assessing property conditions, Todd was able to work with local landowners, elected officials and nonprofits to support active grassland management, battle invasives and protect vital landscapes in Big Sky Country. Ducks Unlimited awarded Todd with Partner of the Year Award and Wetland Conservation Achievement Award for his dedication to conservation in Montana. 


Born and raised in Minnesota, Todd was a child of the outdoors. Reflecting on his childhood memories, he remembers pretty much always being involved in some form of outdoor activity. He and his wife are raising their family with that same intent today and believe in the power of local communities to actively define this ideal for all children. 


As a young adult, Todd followed that natural curiosity to Minnesota State University at Mankato, where he completed his bachelor of science degree in ecology. He later completed his master of science in Fargo at North Dakota State University, focusing on the nesting behavior of Canada geese. It was while working and living in North Dakota when he became dedicated to the importance of habitat management and the role that local, state and regional partnerships have in conservation efforts - both on public and private land.


Reach out to Todd if you have any questions or comments about the refuge or if you are interested in learning more about how you can nurture native habitats within your community.