Farmer Conservationsit, Lower Minnesota River Watershed
Mary Mueller grew up as a farmer’s daughter and discovered a love of the natural environment that still defines her today. On a farm in western Sibley County, Mary and her husband Mike are painstaking restoring a prairie and wetland complex. “A lot of time and effort has been spent restoring all of our farmland into native prairie and wetlands by utilizing conservation programs and wetland mitigations,” said Mueller. “We went the extra mile by utilizing quality seed and not just the basic packages offered by government agencies.” They enrolled their land into a variety of restoration programs like Reinvest in Minnesota (RIM), Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP) and Wetland Restoration Program (WRP).
After graduating from Minnesota State University Mankato, Mary planned to go into the agriculture field but took a detour into the conservation arena first working on the local level at the McLeod Soil and Water Conservation District. Later, Mary played an important role in the Minnesota River Assessment Project, working for the Board of Water and Soil Resources (BWSR) on the land assessment section. In the late 1990s, the Mueller’s took on their first restoration project on their farm – a 30-acre wetland mitigation bank – while at the same time Mary started her own wetland/upland restoration business. “In my seed business I followed my own personal actions of using better plant mixes for my clients to provide better habitat for wildlife,” stated Mueller.
On the volunteer side Mary has been involved with a long range of nonprofit organizations and activities. In one of the more important roles, Mary served as a citizen member of the Legislative Citizen Commission of Minnesota Resources. As the habitat coordinator for McLeod County Pheasants Forever and the Wildlife Habitat Conservation Society’s vice president, Mary works hard at expanding wildlife habitat. “I have also done a lot of volunteer work with schools and community organizations like 4-H clubs to talk about the benefits of restoring wetlands and other conservation programs on habitat and financially for the landowner,” reported Mueller.