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Welcome to the Pioneer Heritage Conservation Trust

History of the Trust

The Pioneer Heritage Conservation Trust was created in 1985 by a group of hunter/sportsmen from the Evansville area - Dean Elmer, Vernon Ostrom, George Larson, and Carl Madsen - who gathered with the thought of preserving a large marsh near Evansville that belonged to Alf Thompson, a descendant of pioneer settlers in the Evansville area. With the help of Mr. Thompson, the men came up with the idea to not only protect the slough, but also to promote long-term stewardship of the land and its related resources. The mission of the Pioneer Heritage Conservation Trust, then and now, is to preserve the land and its resources. The Trust was initially funded with contributions from the Thompson family.

The Trust Today

The Pioneer Heritage Conservation Trust (PHCT), a federally tax exempt Minnesota corporation, continues to serve the counties of Douglas, Grant, Otter Tail, and Pope.

Funds to operate the Trust come from membership fees, lifetime giving donations, testamentary bequests, memorials, investment earnings and fund raising projects. Unless specifically designated as restricted, all memberships shall be used for operational purposes. Bequests and memorials in the amount of $500 or more will be placed in the restricted fund.

PHCT strives to fulfill its mission in several ways. Each year the Trust funds entirely or provides financial assistance for conservation projects in the four county area. The Trust also partners periodically with other organizations and government to accomplish projects that cannot be done by one entity alone. PHCT provides grants for educational school programs and cooperative conservation programs. The Trust also funds education scholarships to students in conservation studies and scholarships to teachers for continuing education in environmental and conservation sciences.

Guiding the Trust

Activities, investments and spending by the trust are guided by a Board of Directors. The Board meets on the second Monday of March, June, September, and December. The Annual Meeting is held prior to the December board meeting. Unless otherwise noted, meetings begin at 7:00 PM at the Military House on the Evansville Historical Foundation campus. The GPS address is 204 South Gran, Evansville. Members and the public are welcome at all meetings!

The 2019 officers and directors are:

Robert Peters, President Director, Pope Co.
Steve Pauly Director, Pope Co.
Andy Bye, Vice President Director, Grant Co.
Joe Montonye Director, Grant Co.
Rick Paulsen, Treasurer Director, Douglas Co.
Greg Lillemon Director, Douglas Co.
Terry Lejcher Director, Otter Tail Co.
Loreli Westby Director, Otter Tail Co.
Robert Jacobs Director, at Large
Dale Stinton, Secretary


Watercolor by Ross Hier, 1986. The logo of the Pioneer Heritage Conservation Trust shows an upland sandpiper perched on an old hay mower. The mower rests in an odd corner of native prairie, surrounded by an array of colorful wildflowers—such is our pioneer heritage!


PHCT Motto

Our time on earth is brief, yet the land goes on forever, carrying with it the marks of each succeeding landowner. As fleeting trespassers on land that belongs to future generations, we must touch the land gently, caring for it as true stewards, so that those who assess our record will see our love and respect for the land and life. (Robert B. Oetting)