This issue debuts a new section in the magazine called Field Notes, which spans 10 pages and includes stories on natural science, conservation, and outdoor recreation. If MCV were a full-course meal, Field Notes would be the appetizer round, full of short, easy-to-digest items that play nicely with our main-dish features.
There's a reason most print magazines open with similar "front of book" sections. They add balance and value while easing one into the reading experience. But to paraphrase The Dude in The Big Lebowski, that's just, like, my opinion, man. I'm curious what you think about Field Notes. Does it work? Could it be better? Do you have story ideas for the section? Send your honest feedback (we can take it) to the email address below.
On a more somber note, former MCV editor Robert Kraske passed away in October. Kraske hired my predecessor, Kathleen Weflen, and the two remained close even after he retired in the late 1980s. Below, Weflen remembers her friend and mentor.
Chris Clayton, editor in chief
Another page of this magazine's history turned when editor emeritus Robert Kraske died October 13, 2019, at age 92. If not for his nearly single-handed leadership in the early 1980s, Minnesota Conservation Volunteer might not have survived.
When the state budget fell short in 1980, then–associate editor Kraske helped craft the first fundraising message to readers. In response, readers mailed in more than $130,000 to the newly minted Volunteer Fund. Their gifts enabled the magazine to keep publishing six issues annually.
After the departure of his predecessor at the end of 1981, Kraske became a one-man editorial-and-fundraising band. Not unlike Mr. Rogers coming home to his neighborhood, the soft-spoken Mr. Kraske donned a sweater vest each morning when he arrived at the office. He performed as editor in chief, writer, proofreader, art director, publisher, and financial manager. Remarkably, he orchestrated all those parts in the days before computers, digital photography, the internet, and email. His publishing tools included a typewriter, telephone, public library for research, light box for viewing color slides, and drawing board for cutting and pasting typeset text onto layout forms.
When I entered the scene in October 1986 to serve as his associate editor, Kraske presented me with my first assignment: A box with hundreds of letters from readers who had contributed to the biannual fund drive. Reading the letters, I soon understood the deep connections the Volunteer had established with its readers. Kraske had carefully cultivated this relationship, creating a community of loyal readers who supported the magazine's conservation mission and gave to the Volunteer Fund.
In his July–August 1983 Letter from the Editor, Kraske shared reader comments such as this: "'Keep the V. going!' Mr. Rupp wrote in a note accompanying his check."
Then Kraske replied: "We sure will, Mr. Rupp. Your check and the goodwill that brought it, along with the checks and good thoughts of thousands of other readers, guarantee that we'll continue publishing the Volunteer and keep it coming to your mailbox."
Kraske sure did keep the Volunteer going. And he showed us how to keep it going. The magazine's editors, staff, and readers say thank you, Mr. Kraske!
Kathleen Weflen, editor in chief, 1989–2017