Celebrating ACD Staff and Supervisor’s Anniversaries Including 30 Years of Service for District Manager, Chris Lord

On June 7th, 2021, the Anoka Conservation District celebrated its 75th Anniversary serving Anoka County. Coincidentally, District Manager, Chris Lord, also celebrated an anniversary that same day – 30 years with the District. To honor this significant accomplishment, we sat down with Chris to look back at what inspired him to pursue a long career in Natural Resource Management and revisit some memories of his time working at ACD.

Emily Johnson, Outreach Coordinator: Thank you for taking the time to chat today, Chris! And thank you from all of us for your 30 years of dedicated service to ACD and Anoka County. Before we get into what drew you to the field of Natural Resource Management, can you tell us more about yourself and what sorts of things keep your mind occupied?

Chris Lord, District Manager: I'm a solitary soul. Fortunately for me, my beautiful wife is too. We enjoy solitude together, and often spend it puttering around the house with home improvements, working in the yard, and enjoying a good show. When I want to be solitary alone, I am drawn toward quandary solving. I love a good puzzle. Not the jigsaw kind. The logic kind. I think this is one reason I like working in the natural resources stewardship field. To understand the problem, you need to consider physics, chemistry, geology, hydrology, and biology and to address the problem you need to layer in politics, sociology, economics, psychology, and diplomacy. On a simpler level, give me a good killer Sudoku with a ridiculous set of rules and I'll be content solving it for the better part of an hour.

Johnson: Managing our natural resources can certainly be a puzzle at times with many interconnected factors to consider. It's a good thing you thrive when solving complex problems! I understand you grew up in Blaine; can you share some of your favorite memories of your childhood growing up in Anoka County?

Lord: I grew up in a neighborhood in northern Blaine with many kids in every house. We all belonged to multiple crews depending on interests, and as our interests ebbed and flowed, so did our allegiances. One contingent of kids to which I belonged spent many of our summer days out in the woods, wetlands, and fields. We'd build and use BMX and motocross tracks, build forts, transplant trees to our yards, and explore. On one outing we discovered that cattail seed heads when full ripe could be turned into an enduring cloud of downy fluff. We proceeded to release every seed in the swamp until the entire crusted over swamp was four to five feet deep in downy whiteness. This set the stage for the most unique game of tag I'd ever be involved in. Despite it being broad daylight, intermittently we were unable to see two feet in front of our faces due to the calamity of seed and had to play mostly by sound. There were some collisions. On one occasion, we decided to clean up our daytime retreat and so traipsed out to the woods with garbage bags in hand. We returned with what seemed to us to be a ton of trash and were thereafter dubbed the Swamp Dusters; a moniker not likely to strike fear in the hearts of the other neighborhood crews, but we kept it nonetheless. The woods, fields, and wetlands that were our stomping grounds are now the Majestic Oaks Golf Course south nine.

Johnson: Like many of us in the natural resource and stewardship field, it sounds like you grew up with a deep love and reverence for our natural world. When you think of your connection to nature and our natural resources today, what do you think of?

Lord: For me, the best part of nature are the quite places that make the worries of life fade into oblivion. The movement of leaves in treetops giving voice to the wind, the layers of aroma hinting at the often unseen players in the landscape, the darting action of little critters seen only in the periphery; these are the distractions and attractions that connect me to nature and make possible exploration all while sitting motionless, not making a sound.

Johnson: It certainly makes sense why you've dedicated your life in service to our natural resources! Can you tell us about a lasting memory you have of your career in natural resources and your time working with ACD?

Lord: The memories that stand out most clearly are the times things didn't go well. In my early twenties, I offended a public official by repeating a question in a public forum after she had just tried to dodge it. That simple act of political tone-deafness had repercussions that extended for many years. A resident threatened to throw me in a wood chipper because I undiplomatically pointed out that he shouldn't have built his pole building in a wetland and was consequentially prohibited from creating a wide driveway all the way around it. Another landowner seeking a favorable wetland delineation asked what would happen if he dropped a hundred dollar bill. I assured him I'd return it to him. I once overheard a well-respected and well-compensated wetland expert explain to his new staff member in the field that because they were considered the experts, they could convince the local government staff and officials of anything because the locals didn't understand the science and would trust expert testimony. These memories, along with countless other experiences, did more to sharpen my diplomacy, political astuteness, customer service, communication, and ethical fortitude than did my successes or mastery of the sciences. Overall, the public is better served by civil servants with well-honed soft skills than those who talents are limited to technical proficiency.

Johnson: Your stories show that we often learn more from our mistakes than we do from our successes. While it's true we face many challenges in our line of work, what has kept you motivated all these years?

Lord: ACD has been a wonderful place to work on several levels. The natural resource base in the Anoka Sand Plain is interesting and unique and the land use varies from densely urban cityscapes to prehistorically pristine open space. The variety keeps things interesting and the people keep it enjoyable. While I've seen a lot of colleagues come and go over the decades, I can count on the lesser part of one hand the number that I wouldn't fully enjoy working with. The elected Board of Supervisors during my term at ACD has always, without exception, served to the best interest of the natural resources and residents without ever putting self-interest first. I find this extraordinary. The Board manages to provide an optimal balance of guidance and flexibility. This has allowed ACD staff to innovate extensively in our pursuit to fulfill ACD's objectives. None of it would have come together without partnering with other local government staff and residents. Working hand-in-hand with these cohorts in conservation is very gratifying.

Johnson: Thank you, Chris, for sharing your stories and thank you again for your continued service to Anoka County!


In this year of milestones, we want to recognize and thank the rest of our staff and supervisors who are also celebrating anniversaries with the District. The District has many things to celebrate, but the most important is the Staff and Board members that have worked hard to make ACD so successful in their conservation efforts. Some have been with ACD for a short time, while others have worked at ACD for decades. Below is a list of employees and supervisors along with their length of time with ACD. They all deserve a big shout out!


ACD Staff:

Chris Lord, District Manager – 30 years

Jamie Schurbon, Watershed Projects Manager – 20 years

Kathy Berkness, Office Administrator – 16 years

Becky Wozney, Wetland Specialist – 16 years

Mitch Haustein, Stormwater and Shoreland Specialist – 11 years

Jared Wagner, Water Resource Specialist – 5 years

Carrie Taylor, Restoration Ecologist – 5 years

Kris Larson, Water Resource Technician – 5 years

Emily Johnson, Outreach and Engagement Coordinator – 3 years

Mollie Annen, Natural Resource Conservationist – 1 year

Kat Dickerson, District Technician – 2 months


ACD Board Supervisors:

Mary Jo Truchon, Board Chair – 25 years

Jim Lindahl, Vice Chair – 12 years

Glenda Meixell, Treasurer – 4 years

Sharon LeMay, Member – 4 years

Colleen Werdien, Member – 6 months

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Supervisor Spotlight: Mary Jo Truchon

Mary Jo Truchon and her family moved to Blaine over 45 years ago from Chicago. At that time, Blaine was on the outskirts of the Twin Cities and seemed to be the edge of civilization. Nature was always close and Mary Jo thrived in it. Moving to Blaine from the city of Chicago felt like moving someplace wild and deeply connected to the natural world. In fact, the Truchon's home was in a remnant prairie and surrounded by oak savannah. Living so close to the natural resources of the county further solidified her passion to protect them for future generations to enjoy.

Mary Jo's love of nature started early in her life. She recalls family trips to the Wabash River as well as to the sandy shores of Lake Michigan where the waters were always warm in the summer. She fell in love with water and instilled these same values in her own children and 15 grandchildren through trips to Lake Superior in Duluth, the Coon Rapids Dam, Lake Mille Lacs, the Rum River, and more. Mary Jo says that Minnesota was a fabulous place to raise her family. Even now that her children are grown, the family still gathers around water with Taylor's Falls being the destination of choice this past Easter as it is a family favorite for picnicking.

In addition to raising her family, Mary Jo pursued her interests in government, art, and nature by volunteering with several organizations. She was on the board of the League of Women Voters for many years and also spent 20 years volunteering with a group of environmental educators to conduct free outdoor programs for youth in county parks. The Heritage Lab reached thousands of kids each year with hands on programs about the natural history of Minnesota. This program was then taken over by the Anoka County Parks with funding from Connexus Energy. To this day, Mary Jo is incredibly proud of her role educating youth about the natural resources and history of our area and is excited to see those efforts continued today.

For approximately 20 years, Mary Jo has been an asset to the ACD Board of Supervisors. Today, she serves as the Board Chair helping to guide the work of ACD in Anoka County. In her free time, she enjoys painting and walking on the boardwalks through the Blaine Wetland Sanctuary.

Reach out to Mary Jo or any of the ACD Board Supervisors here: www.anokaswcd.org/about-us/board-of-supervisors
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Staff Spotlight: Carrie Taylor

Carrie Taylor, ACD's Restoration Ecologist, enjoys all manner of outdoor adventures including skiing, gardening, camping, and canoeing. She always makes time to explore nature, go on hikes, and "hunt" for wildflowers with her family. She loves bringing her daughters out with her even though she sometimes has to remind them that "skiing… hiking… canoeing… it's what we do!"

Prior to living in Minnesota, Carrie lived in Illinois, Indiana, Oregon, Montana, and Sweden. Since moving to Minnesota 6 years ago, Carrie has made a point of exploring all the natural areas the state has to offer. One of Carrie's favorite places in Minnesota that she has explored thus far is the Superior Hiking Trail at Bean and Bear Lakes. She appreciated the topography, the wildness, and the beautiful multi-layer beaver dam complex that she and her family stumbled across.

Carrie is also active with the Master Gardener program and enjoys volunteering with many organizations especially coordinating landscape design and installation with new homeowners through Habitat for Humanity.

Outside of Carrie's work conducting natural resource monitoring, inventory, assessments, and planning, and coordinating ecological restoration projects for the District, she is involved in landscaping and adding native and edible plants at her daughters' schools and helping lead some of their Girl Scout activities.

To contact Carrie, reach out to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or (763) 434-2030 x19. 

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Staff Spotlight: Becky Wozney

Becky Wozney, ACD's Wetland Specialist, has always had a strong connection to nature. When she was a girl growing up in Pine County, she would regularly ride her horse, Annie, through her family's pastures for hours on end. She fell in love with nature and the outdoors while exploring her family's property with her dogs and today believes that outreach and education can really change how people, especially children, interact with our natural resources. "Anytime we can get kids outside and teach them to respect nature, it will have a large impact on them later in life," says Becky.

Now that Becky has her own daughters, she tries to instill in them the same love of the outdoors that she learned as a kid. She and her family all love to travel and have visited 30 states (including Alaska and Hawaii!) plus Costa Rica and Canada. They are planning a Europe-based trip in 2022. Becky and her family also greatly enjoy spending time on the lake in their boat or kayak, camping in Minnesota's state parks, and hiking with their dog, Millie.

Outside of Becky's work providing technical assistance and Wetland Conservation Act (WCA) regulatory assistance to county residents, she is involved in youth sports and volunteering on natural resource projects in her city.

To contact Becky, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call (763) 434-2030 x14.

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Welcome Supervisor Werdien!

Colleen Werdien is a Minnesota native, growing up with her family in Mounds View before moving to Anoka County 25 years ago. She settled first in Columbia Heights, but seven years ago when she saw an article in the paper about an old house for sale that was originally built in 1852, she decided to move to the city of Anoka very near the banks of the Rum River.

Growing up, nature was always easily accessible for Colleen. In her childhood home, Colleen fell in love with the knee-high prairie grasses and small creek running through her backyard and the forest right across the street. Colleen carried these experiences in nature throughout her life, naming several significant places in Minnesota she loves to visit today including the Boundary Waters, Jeffers Petroglyphs in the southwest, and the prairies of Pipestone.

Her home in Anoka sits on ¾ of an acre that is largely shaded by mature trees. In her sunny boulevard, Colleen tends to a variety of native plants that are beneficial for pollinators while working to keep the invasive weeds and buckthorn at bay. If she's not out in her yard, you are most likely to find Colleen pursuing one of her many artistic interests from pottery to felt and wool, and from drawing to playing the ukulele and piano!

Colleen is already an active member of her community working with several local organizations and volunteer groups. She is an active member of the Andover Pollinator Awareness Project as well as the Anoka County Master Gardeners, both of which allow her to work with and advocate for the native prairie plants and flowers she adores. In addition, Colleen volunteers for her church and serves on the HRA Board working to purchase and revitalize homes that have fallen into disrepair.

Still, Colleen felt the desire to do more for her community to make an impact. She has been concerned about the state of our natural resources her whole life and when she learned of the work ACD does, she knew she would be able to make a big impact in conservation work throughout the county as a supervisor.

We are thrilled to welcome Colleen Werdien to the ACD Board of Supervisors representing District 1. 

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