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Conservation Conversation: Annie Knight of Northern Waters Land Trust: Grant Manager, Conservation Specialist, Radio Producer

Annie Knight of The Northern Waters Land Trust joins Heidi Holtan to discuss the joys of living in northern Minnesota and helping to promote conservation in landowners

Annie Knight is the conservation specialist and grants manager for Northern Waters Land Trustand has been co producing KAXE/KBXE's Conservation Conversation series. Knight joined Heidi Holtan for a conversation about her work with NWLT and what gives her passion to work in the field of conservation. Knight also reflects on what it has been like producing the Conservation Conversation segments and gives a preview of what's coming up next for the series. To hear the full conversation, click the "Listen" player at the top of the page.

Knight lives and works in northern Minnesota, and has been coming up north since she was a little kid. "I did not plan to move back here," she said. "But I am so grateful that I am back. When I was younger, I had no idea my future husband lived across the lake. Lake Benedict has been my special place and then to meet Taylor and know that this place means just as much to him. It's been really special. And to be able to pass that on to my child George. It's going to be an experience to watch him see the beauty of this area too."

Knight now works for the Northern Waters Land Trust as a grants manager and conservation specialist. Her education and background uniquely prepared her for doing this type of diverse work with the small non-profit organization. "As a kid, I was a naturalist: running around trying to save the bird that just hit the window or watching caterpillars turn into monarchs." she said. "And then I got to college and majored in Environmental Science at the College of Saint Benedict with a minor in Psychology, looking at the connection people have to the wilderness."

That training has allowed Knight to find the joys in the various parts of her position with NWLT. "For sure my favorite part of my job is talking with landowners. Everyone thinks their land is the best because of the memories they've created there. Whenever I get a call from a landowner, I never know if it's going to be a five-minute all business conversation, or if it's going to be an hour-long conversation. Now I know the full history of their land. It's been a real treat."

The connection landowners have to their land represents something deeper than just owning property. To Knight, the feeling of being connected to the land is primal. "We as humans have been so connected to the land since the beginning of time," Knight said. "And just recently, 50, 100 years, we've really separated from the land and you can see the impacts that's having on our society and our mental health. Connecting with nature really fills our buckets."

"They talk about 15 minutes a day. If you can just get outside 15 minutes a day, it's amazing how much of a reset that is for our lives in general."

As grants manager and conservation specialist at the NWLT, there's plenty for Knight to do on a given day. But her resume has gotten even longer with the addition of "radio producer" to the list. "Working with KAXE has meant a lot to our organization," she said. "It's been a gift to be able to come on Norther Community Radio and do the Conservation Conversations. There are so many wonderful organizations and people who care about the environment who are doing really solid work in northern Minnesota, and we wanted to highlight their work as well. It's a beautiful thing. We're not competing. We're collaborating."

And Knight and the NWLT will continue to partner with KAXE to keep telling the stories of those organizations and individuals doing conservation work in the community.

Looking to the future, Knight is optimistic about the work of NWLT. "One of our metrics is 75% watershed protection, and we have some projects that are nearly completed in the Kabekona Watershed. Once they are completed, we will reach 75 % watershed protection, and that's cause for celebration."

"It's been such a gift to be able to work for Northern Waters Land Trust because it is an optimistic place to work."

Stay tuned for future Conservation Conversations here on KAXE'/KBXE to tap into that optimism.

You can read and listen to the full archive of Conservation Conversations by clicking here.

Heidi Holtan is KAXE's Director of Content and Public Affairs where she manages producers and is the local host of Morning Edition from NPR. Heidi is a regional correspondent for WDSE/WRPT's Duluth Public Television’s Almanac North.