WILLMAR -- The Willmar Area Community Foundation will present the 2012 Award in Philanthropy to Dr. Roger and Kay Strand of New London during the foundation's seventh annual Award in Philanthropy dinner 5 to 8 p.m. Thursday at the Willmar Conference Center.
According to the foundation, friends and acquaintances describe the Strands as modest, gracious, generous, dedicated, smart, warm, welcoming, loving, artistic, thankful, organized, visionary and enthusiastic, to name a few.
Roger's love for and dedication to preserving the natural world began during his formative years when the family would depart Minneapolis for their cabin on Green Lake in Spicer where he would hunt, fish and explore the surrounding woods.
He was nurtured by his parents who were avid outdoors people: His father was a founding member of the New London Hunting Club on Mud Lake and his uncle and older brother joined the hunts.
When Roger's father bought 80 acres of land at nearby Stoney Lake in the early 1950s, a place perfect for wood duck habitat, Roger's lifelong love of the ducks began. He placed his first wood duck box there in 1956.
After completing his undergraduate studies at Macalester College, Roger entered medical school at the University of Minnesota. In 1960, he married Kay, who had just begun teaching junior high social studies after graduating from Carleton College.
After internship, Roger began two years with the U.S. Public Health Service, Department of Indian Health, at the hospital in Harlem, Mont., followed by a five-year general surgery residency at Hennepin County General Hospital.
Toward the end of the residency, Roger was granted a six-month leave to work at the Clara Swain Hospital in India, supported by the United Methodist Church. The couple and their three young children moved to Willmar in 1969.
Roger participated in joining the Willmar Clinic and Lakeland Medical Center, today known as the Affiliated Community Medical Centers. Roger specialized in surgery of the hand, often treating injuries among farmers and others who work with machinery.
In 1991 Roger and Kay "retired" to Stoney Ridge Farm, which includes the original family cabin and land, which has grown to 400 acres of woods, sloughs and small lakes.
"We love this land," says Roger. "And we would like to see it loved by others as the years go by."
As practical expression of that love and commitment, the Strands donated a permanent conservation easement on the land to the Minnesota Land Trust, meaning it can never be developed by future owners. The land can be used for conservation projects, wildlife preservation, and hunting.
The landmark event on the property is Prairie Pothole Day, held each September. In 1983, a Minnesota Waterfowl chapter was started in Kandiyohi County. Calling itself the Prairie Pothole Chapter, Roger became its first president.
The Strands, through Prairie Pothole Day and more, provide a living legacy of support to the greater Kandiyohi County community. Kay adds to her expression of love for the land through her landscape oil paintings, many exhibited locally, including at Rice Memorial Hospital and at the Willmar Education and Arts Center. Kay is a member of the Willmar Area Arts Council and her work is featured at Celebrate Art! Celebrate Coffee!
She contributes to the Council's Art On Loan Program. She is a member of the Artists of Minnesota organization, and samples of her work can be found at www.mnartists.org. She is also a member of Creating Art Together, which meets in New London.
In describing her motivation and her work, Kay says, "I enjoy trying to solve the challenges involved in creating a painting. Nature inspires me wherever I happen to be. Painting landscapes is relaxing for me and it pleases me when viewers connect with my paintings. I appreciate the good teachers with whom I studied and the friends I have made painting. My thanks to my husband and four children, and everyone else who has encouraged my efforts as an artist."
Roger teaches at Prairie Woods Environmental Learning Center, New London-Spicer schools and the Minnesota Waterfowl Association. He is editor of the Wood Duck Society's national publication, the Wood Duck Newsgram.