West Polk Soil and Water Conservation District (WPSWCD) District Manager Nicole Bernd is the Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources' (BWSR) 2019 Outstanding Soil and Water Conservation District Employee. Bernd was honored during the Minnesota Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts’ (MASWCD) annual convention in Minneapolis Dec. 9, though she was unable to attend the recognition ceremony  due to inclement weather. Bernd will be presented with the award at a later date.

    “Local conservation staff go above and beyond every day to preserve and protect our water and soil resources,” Jaschke said. “Nicole Bernd demonstrates professional excellence alongside a commitment to collaborative planning processes that benefit watersheds both within and beyond the district she leads.”

    Bernd has played an essential role in two One Watershed, One Plan (1W1P) planning efforts. She acted as facilitator for the Wild Rice/Marsh Watershed 1W1P and has been a major contributor to the Red Lake River 1W1P process as they move toward plan implementation. The expertise she gained through these planning efforts has resulted in numerous speaking requests by local conservation groups embarking on similar planning processes.

    In addition to her work on 1W1P, Bernd completed a multimillion-dollar water quality and habitat project in 2018 on the Sand Hill River, coordinating multiple agencies and acting as grant fiscal agent and project manager. The project was completed under budget with greater impact than anticipated thanks to Bernd’s sound fiscal and project management. Bernd also coordinated the Minnesota Geological Survey Polk County Atlas project and serves as President of the Northwest Association of Conservation District employees.

    Each year, BWSR celebrates the excellent work accomplished by soil and water conservation district staff that advances conservation efforts across the state.

    BWSR is the state soil and water conservation agency, and it administers programs that prevent sediment and nutrients from entering our lakes, rivers, and streams; enhance fish and wildlife habitat; and protect wetlands. The 20-member board consists of representatives of local and state government agencies and citizens. BWSR’s mission is to improve and protect Minnesota's water and soil resources by working in partnership with local organizations and private landowners.