Craig and Shelley Larson and Starion Bank were honored recently by Ducks Unlimited for being strong community leaders and champions of prairie conservation. The North Dakota couple and community bank were acknowledged for their strong commitment to DU's prairie conservation efforts at a special dinner event and with two recognition plaques at DU's Coteau Ranch, northeast of Bismarck.

"The Larsons and Starion have provided significant support to our conservation work, with the Larsons becoming Legacy Sponsors and Starion a Gold Benefactor," said Eric Lindstrom, managing director of development for DU's Great Plains. "We are honored to recognize, thank and celebrate their tremendous contributions to North Dakota's world-class outdoor resources, quality of life and communities."

Starion Bank has been in the Larson family since 1969 when Craig's parents, Frank and JoAndrea Larson, purchased the bank in Oakes, a small agricultural community in southeast North Dakota. Craig is now CEO and chairman of the board for Starion, which today has locations across North Dakota and Wisconsin.

The Larsons also received Ducks Unlimited's 2016 Wetland Conservation Achievement Award in the Private Citizen category.

"I sincerely appreciate Ducks Unlimited's work in protecting and enhancing the prairie landscape, which is North America's duck factory," Craig Larson said. "Habitat will always be the critical factor for not just waterfowl but all the wildlife species that call the prairie home."

"The Larsons are strong conservation advocates and have carried out this passion in both their personal and professional lives," Lindstrom said. "We are thankful for their and Starion's dedication and continued partnership."