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New Pierce County conservation director's dedicated life to the land

TOWN OF SPRING LAKE -- Enjoying all things outdoors, Rod Webb continued a career focused on the land by stepping into the Pierce County Land Conservation Department director position last week. Webb succeeded David Sander in the post.

"I've spent my entire life in Pierce County," said the Town of Spring Lake native who still farms his home acreage with his brother, Glenn, and mother, Patricia.

The 1986 Elmwood High School graduate, who participated in sports, band and outdoor activities at that school, concentrated on soil science when he attended UW-Stevens Point. He took classes in chemistry, physics and math, plus interned for a crop consulting company while at the college, from where he received a bachelor of science degree in soils in 1990.

Webb said his first job was as an agronomist for a private fertilizer and grain company in Spring Valley, Minn. For two-and-a-half years, he developed nutrient plans, helped with fertilizer needs and otherwise advised dairy, hog and cash grain farmers in that part of Southern Minnesota.

Wanting to move closer to home, he took a job with the nearby Pepin County Land Management Department in 1993, he said. He spent the first five years there as a technician, then became county conservationist, staying for another 10 years.

"The terrain is similar to here," he said, "and, like here, the people there have a great conservation ethic."

The territory he covered was somewhat less than he expects in his new post, as Pepin County is smaller, he said. His previous department had a three-member staff and there was a three-member Natural Resources Conservation Service staff as well. Most of the rural land was in agriculture.

"There was some development along Lake Pepin," he said, anticipating more of that in Pierce.

A desire to work in his home county prompted Webb to apply for Pierce's directorship when he learned of its availability a month to six weeks ago, he said. He was interviewed by the land management committee here and offered the position last month.

Read more in the print version of the Pierce County Herald April 2.