From the time he was a little boy, Kyle Quittschreiber knew he wanted to be a conservation officer with the Minnesota DNR.
"My dad was taking him fishing when he was really young, and a game warden stopped by to talk to them - ever since then he told everyone 'that's what I'm going to do,'" said his sister, Kayla Quittschreiber.
And why not? The boy took to the outdoors like a duck to water. "He loved to be fishing and hunting - anything outdoors," Kayla said. "If he was in a deer stand, he was happy."
Kyle died the afternoon of Friday, Aug. 24, from injuries he sustained in an off-duty farm accident.
On Tuesday, a good day for ducks, as low, dark clouds moved across the sky, she thought of Kyle. "He loved duck hunting, too," she said.
As children, 'he was always picking on me, but he was also very protective of me - he was the best big brother," she said.
They grew up near Vergas, next to their grandfather's farm. "We spent so much time there raising chickens and goats and bunnies."
At Frazee High School, where Kyle graduated in 2011, he was "very active in FFA, he was president of FFA," she said. He was also captain of the football team his senior year. "They called him 'speed,'" she said. He played defensive tackle and center on offense.
Kyle always loved camping and traveling, and he had a passion for buying and selling cars on Craigslist, especially Audis. "We called him the 'Craigslist King,' he could find the best deals on Craigslist," Kayla said. "They're fun - he loved to trick out his Audis. One even had a light that showed the Audi symbol on the ground when you opened the door."
He went to college in Bemidji and then to the University of Minnesota Crookston, where he earned a bachelor's degree in natural resources law enforcement, before completing his law enforcement training in Alexandria.
He worked as a deputy sheriff in Marshall County, and in several positions for the DNR, including as a smoke chaser, watercraft inspector, natural resources worker at Maplewood State Park and in the MinnAqua education program, until he got the opportunity to go to the DNR academy to become a conservation officer.
Quittschreiber was one of 13 in his class who completed the 12-week conservation officer academy at Camp Ripley in October 2015, along with 16 weeks of field training with experienced conservation officers.
"They were litter mates," Kayla said of the academy. "He was the youngest there, the pup of the litter, they called him." He graduated from the academy in 2015 and joined the DNR in early 2016.
He was stationed in Blackduck, where "they called him the warden who never sleeps," Kayla said.
At one point a DNR supervisor went to the Vergas area as part of a background check on Kyle.
"She said 'I searched hard to find somebody to say something bad about him - I couldn't find anybody,'" Kayla said.
That was no accident, she said. "People should know he had the biggest heart. He was so humble, so humble ... and he was the first one to drop everything he was doing to help someone out. He was always there, no matter what."
Things were coming together for Kyle: He was able to transfer to the Detroit Lakes DNR office to be closer to family, and he was living with his girlfriend, Brittney Sletten, and her son Carson, 6, in a home he had just bought on County Road 54.
"He accomplished so much," Kayla said. "He loved his job, it was his dream job, and and he was with the love of his life. She has a little boy that Kyle took in as his own."
Kyle was doing improvement work at home when the tractor he was driving rolled over on a hill, pinning him underneath. He died at the scene.
"The Becker County Sheriff's Office extends heartfelt sympathies to the family of MN DNR Officer Kyle Quittschreiber," Sheriff Todd Glander said in a statement. "Thoughts and prayers are extended to the MN DNR and entire Law Enforcement Family. We lost a fine officer, and he will truly be missed."
Visitation is on Wednesday, Aug. 29, from 4 to 8 p.m. at St. John's Lutheran Church, 410 East Scharf Avenue in Vergas. The service is on Thursday, Aug. 30, at 11 a.m. at Frazee High School, 305 North Lake Street, Frazee. Law enforcement officers will muster at 9:30 a.m. Park on the NE side of the high school. A procession will follow the service to a local cemetery where he will be laid to rest.
Donations to the family can be made through Backing the Blue Line on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/donate/2172023596345496/