Flynn retires from Becker SWCD
For 35½ years, Ginger Flynn’s friendly face has greeted visitors to the Becker County Soil & Water Conservation District/Natural Resource Conservation Service (SWCD/NRCS) office in Detroit Lakes.
But after Friday, March 22, Ginger will be joining her husband Tom in retirement.
“I just think it’s time to do something else,” she says. “I’ve enjoyed this job, but it’s time to try other things.”
Friends, family, clients and colleagues who would like to wish Ginger well are invited to attend an open house reception in her honor on Wednesday, March 20, in the SWCD office, from 1:30 to 4 p.m.
Though not quite comfortable with the attention that her decision to retire has caused, Ginger says it’s the interaction with people at the SWCD office that she’ll miss most.
“I’ll miss my work colleagues, the (SWCD) board of supervisors and all the landowners — I’ve really gotten to know them over the years,” she says.
Some of those relationships have spanned more than 30 years: District Administrator Brad Grant has been with the SWCD office for Flynn’s entire tenure, while District Technician Dean Hendrickson started there about a year after she did.
“I’m very proud to have worked for the Becker SWCD,” Ginger says. “Both professionally, and personally, I’ve grown because of it.”
Though she was born in Mankato, and spent some of her earliest years in the Waterville-Elysian area, Ginger moved with her family to a farm in Westbury when she was 6 years old.
“I went to Detroit Lakes schools, and graduated from here,” she says.
Her first job out of high school was with the Agricultural Stabilization and Conservation Service (now Farm Service Agency) in Detroit Lakes.
Aside from a brief stint in Watertown, S.D., when her husband’s job with Tomlinson Lumber led them there, she has lived in Detroit Lakes ever since.
“We moved back in 1977,” Ginger says, “and that’s when I started here as a district administrative assistant.”
Over the years, her job has evolved considerably.
“I mainly do the financial reports, the accounting and the payroll,” Ginger says, “but I get thrown into a lot of other things — greeter, receptionist, scheduling…”
Some of those other things have also included overseeing the Junior and Senior Envirothon programs, scheduling the annual 5th Grade Conservation Tour at the Ike Fischer farm in rural Frazee, and preparing state and federal reports on the various programs for SWCD and NRCS (Natural Resource Conservation Service, which is based in the same office).
“We’ve secured a lot of grants, and I have to track those,” she says.
When she started with the SWCD, Gingers says, she mainly worked with farmers, but since then the district has expanded its programs to extend to lakeshore and other landowners as well.
“We’re busy all the time now,” she says. “There’s never a dull moment.”
Ginger has also seen a lot of technology changes over the years.
“When I started we had an electric typewriter and a copy machine that did one sheet at a time,” she says. “For our newsletter, we used a mimeograph machine, and an addresso-graph machine for the envelopes.”
She was the first one in their office to get a computer, back in the 1980s; today, pretty much all their work is done on computer.
Their office also serves as a training site for future NRCS district conservationists — in fact, Ginger says, the person who currently has that position in Detroit Lakes, Ed Musielewicz, “was one of our trainees 25 years ago.”
“We’ve had 19 trainees over the last 35 years,” she adds.
The SWCD/NRCS office has also expanded its staff, from just four people when Ginger started work there, to its current contingent of 10.
Though she’s looking forward to retirement, Flynn says, she knows it will be an adjustment.
“I’m a person that’s kind of active — I have a hard time just sitting,” she says. “I’ll miss the people a lot — but the deadlines, I probably won’t.”
Though she will soon have a lot more free time on her hands, Ginger says, she plans to keep busy working on her flower gardens and yard — “we have an acre and a half, so it’s time consuming.”
“I’m also planning on doing some volunteering.”
Ginger is involved with two local organizations, the Essentia Health-Oak Crossing Family Council, where she serves as secretary, and the Catholic United Financial-Holy Rosary Council, where she serves as treasurer.
The former is an organization dedicated to improving the lives of Oak Crossing residents, while the latter helps fund various youth programs at Holy Rosary Church.
“They’ve already talked to me about doing some more volunteering at Oak Crossing,” Ginger says. “I’d also like to do some traveling.”
And then, of course, there are her sons, Kevin and Scott, and their families.
“I have four grandchildren — I’d like to spend some more time with them.”
In other words, she won’t have much time for sitting still.
Follow Detroit Lakes Newspapers reporter Vicki Gerdes on Twitter at @VickiLGerdes.