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SWCD names 2016 Outstanding Conservationists

Jim and Audra Chamberlin, owners of Island Lake Farm, were honored as the 2016 Outstanding Conservationists of Crow Wing County and Area 8.

The couple received the honor Dec. 6 at the annual convention of the Minnesota Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts in Bloomington.

Each year, the state's SWCDs recognize individuals and organizations for outstanding accomplishments in implementing conservation practices and improving Minnesota's natural resources. The award program is conducted with support from The Farmer magazine and sponsored by MASWCD.

The Chamberlins own and operate Island Lake Farm, a 107-acre diversified farm and forestry operation where they raise vegetables, livestock, fruit, mushrooms and more. The farm is located on a natural environment lake, where Audra Chamberlin cares for the animals and homestead while Jim Chamberlin is experienced in soil health, erosion control and woodland management.

The couple shares their love of conservation and the outdoors with their nine children, 11 grandchildren and others in the community. The portion of the farm that lies on a designated wild rice lake is nearing completion of an 82-acre perpetual conservation easement. The Chamberlins are exceptional stewards of the land, active in local and regional organizations and have careers that improve conservation efforts in the area.

"Jim and Audra were recognized for a variety of reasons but most importantly, the Chamberlins have developed a local network of trusted individuals in several conservation fields including forestry, gardening and agriculture, which makes them a positive and impactful resource in our community," Sheila Boldt, Crow Wing Soil and Water Conservation District employee, said in a news release. "Not only are they willing to help others understand best management practices, but they continue to have a passion for learning new and innovative ways to be better stewards of the land."