Melanie grew up playing outside and formed a love and respect for nature. She told me a story of when she was a little girl. She was walking around her grandparent's property and heard a shrill bark that stopped her in her tracks. She then took another step and there was another bark. Then she noticed a mamma raccoon with babies and understood that the raccoon was politely giving her a warning. She calmly turned around and went another way. She had many other stories of being outdoors with her family. I suppose those times and stories are what planted the seeds for Melanie's love and respect for nature.

Later in life, Melanie moved to Nowthen in northern Anoka County into a beautiful home surrounded by mature trees. When the cornfield south of that property went up for sale, she purchased it. She tells the story that she crazily spent her retirement savings on a cornfield. However, she had a vision and insight to create habitat for all wild creatures and open land to capture and store water. In 2003, Anoka Conservation District staff helped Melanie implement that vision by establishing a Conservation Easement and turning the cornfield into a diverse natural landscape with wetland, prairie, savanna, and woodland habitats with funds from USDA and MN DNR conservation programs. Melanie founded the Kern Heritage Center in 2012 so that they Board of Trustees could preserve the space. The property is now home to a diversity of native plants, bumblebees, butterflies, birds and many more creatures… thanks to Melanie Kern.

Anoka Conservation District is grateful for Melanie's land ethic and our relationship we had with her over the years. Melanie, you will be missed!