DU’s Hoefs named Minnesota Person of the Year

Minnesota Outdoor News recognizes Hoefs' longtime conservation work.

PLYMOUTH, Minnesota – April 14, 2022 – Minnesota Outdoor News has named Ducks Unlimited (DU) Board Member Ruth Hoefs as its 2022 Person of the Year for her longtime dedication to habitat conservation.

“For nearly 25 years, the Minnesota Outdoor News bestows its Person of the Year award to individuals who volunteer their time to improve the outdoors,” said Tim Spielman, Minnesota Outdoor News editor. “Ruth is a very worthy choice for this honor. Her devotion to wildlife habitat and clean water means all of us have better places to hunt, fish, hike and recreate.”

Hoefs, of Le Center, Minn., is a strong proponent of wetlands protection, enhancement and restoration. DU is the world leader in wetlands conservation and has conserved more than 15 million acres across North America, including 238,000 acres in Minnesota.

“I do it for the conservation. I want to make sure I did everything I possibly could on my land to make things better for those that come behind me,” Hoefs said. “I want them to have the same opportunities that I’ve had, and to leave as much natural land for future generations as possible.”

Hoefs’ DU volunteering started more than 20 years ago when she was invited to a banquet.

She’s held several roles in Minnesota throughout the years and was the state’s first DU chairwoman from 2017 to 2019. In 2019 she was elected to the DU Board of Directors.

“Ruth is an extraordinary champion for wetlands conservation. She leads by example on her farm and through countless dedicated hours to our mission as a member of the DU Board of Directors,” said DU President Doug Schoenrock. “Ruth is such a positive person, inspiring others throughout her state of Minnesota and across the country with a genuine love of the outdoors. Ducks Unlimited congratulates her on this honor and is proud to have someone with her passion and talents working for Team DU.”

Hoefs’ passion for DU started, and continues, on her homestead in Le Center, her childhood farm that’s been in her family since 1953. She farms 350 acres, including a feedlot for beef, sheep and lambs. Hoefs also crops corn, soybeans, winter wheat, peas and hay. And she is conducting a grain test plot for the University of Minnesota.

Hoefs, whose maiden name is Svoboda, grew up on the family farm where they raised their own chickens, eggs, beef and milked cows. She says her farming and outdoors traditions run deep because her father was a waterfowler and she credits his love of the outdoors and her time on the farm for her appreciation of wildlife and spending time in nature.

“I watched what my parents did with the place and made it the land it was. I enjoy making improvements now that it’s my responsibility,” she said. “I love it. It’s rewarding.”

As a farmer, Hoefs is a vocal proponent of sustainable agricultural practices. Her farm is about 20 miles from the Minnesota River, a significant waterfowl migration corridor. She has improved waterfowl habitat on her land in a few ways, like putting up a ditch buffer along a county drain to reduce runoff. Her efforts also earned her recognition as the 2013-14 Le Sueur County Conservation Farmer of the Year. She educates local landowners on how their actions help people as well as wildlife.

Farming is only part of Hoefs’ daily life. She is a member of the Le Sueur County Fair Association Board and the Le Sueur County Cattlemen’s Association. She’s also a firearm safety instructor for the Montgomery Sportsman Club and is a member of the St John’s Lutheran choir.

Read the Minnesota Outdoor News announcement.