Thank You: Celebrating 65 Years
A goldfinch adorned the front cover of the first issue of The Conservation Volunteer in October 1940. Inside, a story explained why "the goldfinch . . . is recognized everywhere as the Minnesota state bird." It would be another 20 years before the Legislature decreed the loon the state's official avian symbol.
During the past 65 years, the pages of this magazine have recorded a lot of changes. A 1941 story predicted that with the department's reintroduction of woodland caribou on the Red Lake Game Refuge, "their range has been restored and with continued protection they should thrive." Just a few years later, Minnesota's last year-round resident caribou vanished.
Conversely, a story in the first issue declared that the moose was "ours today, Canada's tomorrow," predicting that increased human activity in the north woods would drive moose "into a more congenial environment across the border, never to return." Today, the moose population in northeastern Minnesota is holding steady at about 6,500 animals.
Over the years, some of Minnesota's greatest writers have brought you into the woods and onto the prairie to document our changing—and unchanging—landscape: Sinclair Lewis, Sigurd Olson, Thomas S. Roberts, Grace Lee Nute, Charles Kuralt, Barry Lopez, and Paul Gruchow. Their words have been paired with the art of Walter Breckenridge, Les Grunwald, and Patrick DesJarlait, and with the photos of Layne Kennedy and Jim Brandenburg, two names that also appear in National Geographic.
The original purpose of this magazine was to mobilize "conservation volunteers" to practice and promote good land and water stewardship. That's why early issues encouraged readers to take a pledge and receive an official Conservation Volunteer card.
Through the years, the Conservation Volunteer has retained this populist attitude, earning a reputation as the people's magazine of woods, waters, and wildlife.
That's a testament to our operational philosophy. We rely solely on donations from Minnesota conservationists; and we receive no funds from state taxes, hunting or fishing licenses, or the state lottery.
So if you have yet to send your 2005 tax-deductible donation, please consider doing so today. Should a caribou ever step a hoof inside Minnesota to live year-round again, we'd like to be able to tell you about it.
Gustave Axelson, managing editor