By: Morgan Hochsprung Below: (Jeff Aalund, middle, pictured with his family).
"You're going to have to pick bigger rocks, Jeff." That's how the life of involvement in natural resource conservation began for then 4-year-old Jeff Aalund. His grandpa and dad taught him from a young age about natural resource conservation practices.
Fast forward some time and that lifestyle still runs deep in Jeff's veins; with added technological advancements, of course. From running his own operation, to involvement with his local soil conservation district (SCD), to being a Soil Health Champion; Jeff is seasoned in the world of conservation.
But recently, however, Jeff was presented with a new opportunity: a partnership with General Mills that led to a feature on TV.
We recently sat down with Jeff to chat with him about his past, learn more about his experience with General Mills and gain some wise words of advice.
Check out more of Jeff's feature on Follow the Food by BBC: Series Two, Episode 5.
QUESTION AND ANSWER:
How did you get involved with General Mills?
"Funnily enough, it was actually by accident. It all boils down to me being a Soil Health Champion. I went to Brandon, MN to see General Mill's Oat Project. I heard that they were looking for land to work with. I put in a bid about my land and ended up getting accepted."
How did your interest in natural resource conservation begin?
"Looking back, my grandpa would actually be considered today as an organic farmer. We always practiced conservation and were evaluating what we could do better to help the land. There's always some fear in adopting new practices, but the risk is worth the reward of healing the land."
What advice would you give someone considering adopting natural resource conservation practices?
"The best way to get started is to talk to someone that has been doing it. There are also tons of resources online to get started. If you are being reached out to, when it comes to soil health, don't withhold your secrets. If I see someone that is going to do something that could potentially hinder their success, I am going to stop them."
Do you have an important message to share with someone that emphasizes the importance of natural resource conservation?
"What are you leaving behind for future generations when it comes to soil health? We need soil to grow our food. Without good soil, we will be devastated in the future."
What amazes you about the world of natural resource conservation?
"The thing that is so amazing about conservation practices is the fact that no matter how much you think you know, there's always someone around the corner with an exciting idea. As people continue to learn, we are going to get way better and more efficient at this.
Ten years from now, people are going to look back on what I am currently doing and think "wow, he was really behind". We are always learning. It's exciting to think about the future."
Do you have anything else you would like to add?
"You can make a difference for natural resources conservation no matter how much land you have. You can even do something in your garden; no amount of land is too small."
The NDASCD recognizes Jeff's amazing efforts and appreciates his dedication and passion for conservation practices. We highly encourage anyone interested in Jeff's operation to tune into his episode of Follow the Food with BBC (Series Two, Episode Five). To get connected with Jeff, reach out to the Renville County SCD at (701) 756-6351.
Do you know someone that represents natural resource conservation in an exemplary way? Send your submissions for them to be featured in our next NDASCD Spotlight! Submissions can be sent to email@example.com. There is no submission we will not consider!