Nelson, Harvey K. (Deceased)
Harvey was born on January 29, 1925, in Barrett, Minnesota. His family lived on a farm and his father also worked for the Great Northern Railroad. They later moved to Evansville, Minnesota, where he graduated from high school in 1941. He developed an early interest in wildlife while hunting and trapping in the vicinity of his home town, and became indoctrinated in hunting canvasback ducks on the famous Lake Christina nearby. This stimulated his interest in waterfowl and wetlands. He served in the U.S. Navy in the South Pacific during World War II, 1943-45. Harvey returned to the University of Minnesota where he received a BS degree in zoology and fish and wildlife management in 1950. He received an MS degree in natural resources conservation from Michigan State University in 1957. In 1992, he was awarded an honorary doctor of science degree by North Dakota State University. He also participated in two senior management training programs under the Department of the Interior in Washington, D.C., with scholarships in public administration at George Washington University, and is a graduate of the Federal Executive Institute at Charlottesville, Virginia. He joined the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service at the Sand Lake National Wildlife Refuge in 1950. Initially he was assigned to work on early wetland studies and waterfowl surveys. He later worked on several national wildlife refuges in South Dakota, North Dakota, Minnesota, and Michigan. In 1957, he transferred to the Regional Office in Minneapolis where he served as assistant regional refuge supervisor. Following an assignment with the Division of Wildlife Research in Washington, D.C., in 1963, he was appointed director of the Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center then being established at Jamestown, North Dakota. He held that position until 1974, when he transferred to Washington, D.C., to serve as associate director of the Fish and Wildlife Service. As associate director for Fish and Wildlife Resources, he supervised the operation of some of the Service’s major programs, including the national wildlife refuge system, national fish hatcheries, wildlife law enforcement, migratory bird management, and animal damage control. In 1980, he was appointed regional director for the North Central Region, with bureaus in the Twin Cities, Minnesota. He was responsible for administering agency programs in Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri, Wisconsin, Illinois, Michigan, Indiana, and Ohio. In December 1987, he was appointed to the newly established position of executive director for the North American Waterfowl Management Plan. He was responsible for coordinating the organization and implementation of the Plan in the United States, Canada, and Mexico during the first five years of the program. He retired from that position in February 1992, with more than 41 years of government service. Harvey held appointments as adjunct professor of zoology at the University of North Dakota and North Dakota State University. He is a member of The Wildlife Society and is a certified wildlife biologist. He is an elected member of the American Ornithologists’ Union, and has held various offices in several professional, fraternal, and civic organizations. He is the author or co-author of more than 90 technical publications. Following retirement, Harvey established a private consulting business and continued to work with natural resource agencies, organizations, and private corporations. He also served as a special consultant to the Minnesota Waterfowl Association. He served on the board of directors for the Trumpeter Swan Society, Wood Duck Society, Minnesota Outdoor Heritage Alliance, and the Deep Portage Conservation Foundation, an Environmental Education Center near Hackensack, Minnesota. He chaired the Predation Avian Recruitment Task Force established by the International Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies under the Berryman Institute at Utah State University from 1995 to 2001. Harvey received the Department of the Interior’s Meritorious Service Award in 1980 for his leadership of Service Programs. In 1986, he received the Department’s Distinguished Service Award, the highest honor bestowed on employees by the Secretary of Interior. In 1987, he received the President’s Award as a Meritorious Senior Executive. He was presented the Professional Award of Merit by the North Central Section of The Wildlife Society in 1987. In 1992, Harvey was presented the Minnesota Award by the Minnesota Chapter of The Wildlife Society for outstanding contributions to the wildlife management profession. In 1992, he also received an Award of Appreciation from the Canadian Wildlife Service for his dedication to international cooperation. Harvey was presented the Silver Buffalo Award by the Boy Scouts of America for his work with the Red River Valley Council and in 1991 received the William T. Hornaday Gold Medal Award for contributions to scouting and national conservation programs. In 1994, he was presented the International Canvasback Award by the North American Waterfowl Management Plan Committee for his leadership in development and implementation of that international program. During September 1996, a 600 acre wetland/grassland tract near his home town of Evansville, Minnesota, was dedicated in his honor for his lifelong work with waterfowl and wetlands. He was the second recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award presented by the Minnesota Waterfowl Association at their Annual Meeting during February 1997. He was named Man of the Year for 2000 by Minnesota Outdoor News. Harvey was married to Gene Christenson of Hackensack, Minnesota, in 1947. They have four children and three grandchildren. Harvey was elected to the Washington Biologists’ Field Club in 1975 and was an active participant while residing in the Washington area. He continued to attend spring and fall outings at Plummers Island after retirement as travel permitted from his residence in Bloomington, Minnesota. Harvey died on February 19, 2010. He was a dominant figure in the waterfowl and wetland arena. EULOGY Harvey Nelson Harvey K. Nelson 1925-2010 February 26, 2010 Bloomington, Minnesota Prepared by Dave Sharp, Jerry Serie, and Bob Blohm It has been said that the true measure of a man can be defined in three ways: love and devotion to family, compassion and service towards others, and their dedication and commitment to duty. Harvey K. Nelson had all of these qualities in spades! For 62 years he was a devoted husband to Gene. He was a caring father to Steve, Beth, Pam, and Patti and proud grandfather to Shane, Luke, and Danielle. He nurtured them and watched them grow. Harvey was a devoted family man. There are only a handful of “special people” who come into each of our lives and influence us in a very special way. Harvey Nelson was without a doubt one of those “special people” who touched so many of us over the years. Throughout all his life’s travels he came into contact with countless numbers of people and he found ways to touch and inspire each and every one of them as only he could. Harvey’s life was all about caring for and helping people. Harvey’s dedication and commitment to duty clearly came from some place deep within. He was born in 1925 on a farm near Barrett, Minnesota and raised by his parents John and Selma Nelson in nearby Evansville. He had a brother Wallace and sisters Marlys and Dianne. At that time, the area around Evansville contained some of the best prairie wetland ecosystems in the state and virtually teamed with waterfowl. Harvey loved being outdoors and he spent as much time hunting, trapping, and fishing as he could during his teenage years. I believe it was probably this early exposure to waterfowl and wetlands that nurtured a lifelong passion in Harvey for the conservation and stewardship of our natural resources. In 1943, Harvey finished high school and joined the U.S. Navy where he served in the South Pacific until the end of World War II. During his service, Harvey was injured by a piece of shrapnel that severed a nerve and resulted in some hearing loss. After the war, he enrolled in the Wildlife Management Program at the University of Minnesota. While in college he met Gene, who was working at a Minneapolis dental office and in 1948 they got married. That served as the connection to Woman Lake since Gene’s parents, Otto and Margaret, ran the fishing resort on Woman Lake. Later Harvey and Gene would acquire several lots and two cabins on the lake. When the kids were growing up, the family spent a lot of time at the lake during the summer. In 1950, Harvey received his Bachelor of Science degree in Wildlife Management and accepted his first job with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service at Sand Lake National Wildlife Refuge in South Dakota. In 1953, following his efforts to establish the Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge, Harvey was hired as the first Refuge Manager. He enrolled in Graduate School at Michigan State University, often traveling to campus after work on the refuge to take classes, and earned a Master of Science Degree in Natural Resource Conservation. Soon after, he transferred back to his beloved Minnesota. In the North Central Regional Office, Harvey worked in the Refuges and Wildlife Program and focused on a large number of projects on refuges throughout the Upper Midwest. Harvey’s career began to transition into management-level positions, and he worked with an almost unstoppable energy with the long-term goal of waterfowl and wetland conservation for future generations of people to enjoy. Harvey was a visionary! Harvey clearly understood that the linkages of waterfowl populations to habitat and land-use practices would be critical for their long-term protection and management. He was asked to tackle this mission by establishing a new research facility somewhere in the upper Midwest. In 1963, Harvey selected a site near Jamestown, North Dakota, and was appointed as its first Director. In 1965, building construction was completed for the new Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center and a diverse staff of researchers was assembled to carry out its new mission. As Center Director, Harvey learned valuable leadership lessons and used his “people skills” to unite staff from several disciplines to work as a team. He worked with his staff to launch waterfowl research programs in Canada and throughout the upper Midwest, and worked tirelessly to maintain support for this new research effort within the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. As many researchers at the Center will attest, the sight of Harvey marching down the halls, papers in hand, was often a chilling scene. Everyone knew he was on a mission, and someone was about to receive a new assignment, or be asked to lead a special task. And, no one would ever think of telling Harvey…”No”! You see, Harvey always knew how to get things done! Throughout Harvey’s active life, hunting and fishing traditions and long-term friendships were forged – Make no mistake, these were of great importance to Harvey! Several of his annual traditions were initiated over the next few years, including his annual deer hunting trips to Wyoming, waterfowl and pheasant hunting trips to North Dakota, duck hunting trips to Lake Christina, summer family trips to the “Wee Pine Knot” cabin on Woman Lake, and fishing trips to Eagle Lake in Ontario. Since that time, he amassed a substantial amount of gear. No matter where you look, either in his garage, attic, basement, or in the the cabins or house at Woman Lake – you will find lots of Harvey’s hunting and fishing stuff. And if you were one of the fortunate few who, in later years, were asked to help Harvey load his truck or boat with his gear, especially his fishing tackle, you know exactly what I mean. In 1974, Harvey and Gene moved to Virginia and Harvey accepted the position as Associate Director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. In this capacity, he oversaw the National Wildlife Refuge System, National Fish Hatcheries, Law Enforcement, Animal Damage Control, and the newly-organized Migratory Bird Program. Without question these were challenging times for Harvey as he assumed more and more responsibility for our Nation’s natural resources. But, he never wavered despite this daunting task. Somehow with his boundless energy and leadership skills, meeting after meeting, trip after trip, he moved the Service along a progressive path of science and stewardship. In 1980, Harvey again returned to Minnesota and this time he accepted the position of Regional Director. He helped put in place new partnership initiatives that would extend wildlife and wetland habitat programs onto private land. In 1986, with the birth of the North American Waterfowl Management Plan, Harvey was called upon again, this time to be the Executive Director of the U.S. Office. Harvey quickly assembled a relatively small staff and began the task of establishing Joint Venture Partnerships in critical waterfowl areas in the U.S. Because of Harvey’s unique background and experience, he solidified strong partnerships with State and Federal agencies, non-governmental organizations, and Canada. Flagship projects were launched and work started with congressional staff to find a funding mechanism for this massive new $1.5 billion program to conserve and manage North American wetland resources for waterfowl. In 1989, the North American Wetland Conservation Act was passed and the funding was secured. Yes, Harvey was a visionary but, more importantly, he was a people person! He knew how to bring people together, forge partnerships, build coalitions, and open doors. To Harvey, no good idea was too big to tackle nor too small to ignore! You see, no matter who you were or where you came from, Harvey could always find a place for you and a role for you to play. After 42 years as a career employee with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Harvey retired in 1992. He received the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Distinguished Service Award, which is the highest award an employee can earn. He received an honorary Doctorate Degree from North Dakota State University and over the years received many other awards and recognitions. Most recently he was inducted into the Minnesota Waterfowl Hall of Fame. But, the inexhaustible energy in Harvey prevailed, and after his retirement from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service - he continued his life-long conservation work with the Minnesota Waterfowl Association until his death. He also served on Executive Boards for the Trumpeter Swan Society, Wood Duck Society, Deep Portage Conservation Foundation, and Minnesota Outdoor Heritage Alliance. He leaves a legacy for all to follow in the wildlife conservation community. Harvey lived a full life that was filled with many far reaching and lasting accomplishments. He had a great family, a rewarding career, and was able to enjoy many outdoor activities throughout his entire life. He maintained many hunting traditions with friends and family and last year he went duck hunting and made his annual trip to Eagle Lake. He hunted deer in Minnesota last year and was able to climb into his deer stand and still had the endurance to stay out all day. He was already planning a spring turkey hunt with Shane and his 52nd trip to Eagle Lake. He always carried a camera and loved to show people pictures of family, friends, and his outdoor adventures. Several of us were kind of glad when computers and digital pictures replaced projectors and slide trays. Harvey was indeed a special person, and he touched each of us in special ways. But, in so many ways, he was teaching us how to accomplish what we might think couldn’t be done. No matter what the obstacles we face each day, Harvey’s memory and the life he led will guide us and show us… How To Get Things Done! Harvey, you were my mentor and friend….we will all miss you.