It’s been 42 years since Callaway native Don Lefebvre was first elected to serve as a supervisor with the Becker County Soil & Water Conservation District (SWCD) - and he decided recently that this past year would be his last.
As of Dec. 31, Lefebvre has resigned his position on the Becker SWCD Board of Supervisors, a position he had held continuously since Jan. 1, 1972.
“There comes a time when you need to step aside and let someone else do the job,” Lefebvre said Tuesday.
A reception in his honor is scheduled to take place on Wednesday, Jan. 15, in the conference room at the Becker SWCD Office, 809 Eighth St. SE, Detroit Lakes, from 1 to 2 p.m. The public is welcome to attend.
Though he is ready to step down from his position on the board, Lefebvre nevertheless recalls his years with the district quite fondly.
“This has been a rewarding part of my life for a lot of years, starting with Brad (Grant) as an administrator and technician combined, a part-time clerk and a district conservationist,” he said in his resignation letter, which he handed to SWCD Board Chair Tony Beck on Dec. 12.
“We’ve gone from three in the office to nine or 10 people,” he added. “Changes are good, new people are good. I am very happy with our new staff.
“It makes me happy to leave knowing the district will continue to do good work on the land.”
Over his 42 years with SWCD, Lefebvre said there have been a lot of changes.
“When I first started, one of the biggest projects we were involved with was manure handling pits,” he said, adding that the SWCD helped farmers install the pits through a cost-share arrangement.
“They (SWCD) handle a lot of federal, state and county money, and we (the board of supervisors) disburse it out for various conservation projects,” Lefebvre continued. “A lot of money goes through our office that the supervisors have to approve.
“Basically we watch the dollars and make sure they go to the right places. We’ve also brought a lot of different programs to the area.”
Another type of conservation project that Lefebvre saw a lot of during his early years was roadside erosion projects.
“In later years, it’s been sediment basins - basins that keep tilled fields from washing out into the wetlands,” he said.
While he did a little bit of farming in his early career, Lefebvre spent much of his working life - 23 years, to be exact - hauling livestock to Fargo, St. Paul and points in between.
“That was my first job,” he said, adding, “I’ve always been self-employed.”
After retiring from the trucking business, Lefebvre got his real estate license in 1978, and spent the rest of his professional career running his own firm, First United Realty.
“I’m still licensed (as a realtor),” he said, but added that he only works on a part-time basis now.
Though he has spent most of his life working off of the rural Detroit Lakes farm that he and wife Gladys have shared for almost 60 years - the same farm where they raised their six children - Lefebvre’s love for the land goes back to his early childhood, growing up outside Callaway.
“I always liked hunting and fishing, and conservation is a big part of that,” he said, which is how he came to be involved with the SWCD.
Though he is still a member of the Becker County Sportsman’s Club, Lefebvre added, he has cut back on a lot of his outdoor activities.
“I still do a little hunting yet,” he added.
Follow Detroit Lakes Newspapers reporter Vicki Gerdes on Twitter at @VickiLGerdes.