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Restored waterfowl lake site in west central Minnesota to remember Adam Hoekstra

Deb, left, and Lloyd Hoekstra unveil the Olson Lake -- Adam Hoekstra dedication plaque May 7 during the Olson Lake dedication near Raymond. (Tribune photo by Ron Adams)

RAYMOND -- Friends and family of Adam Hoekstra answered his untimely death in the best way they knew how.

They made a lasting gift in the Spicer native's memory for all time.

After his death at age 24 in 2009, they launched a fund drive that raised $170,000 for Ducks Unlimited restoration work. There were many who gave $20,000 or more in his memory.

The funds are being applied to Ducks Unlimited's Living Lakes Initiative. Its goal is to conserve 400 shallow lakes and large marshes in Minnesota and Iowa in the next 10 years. They will serve as "stepping stones'' for migrating and nesting waterfowl, Tim Roble, Ducks Unlimited state chair elect, told those who gathered at a dedication ceremony last Saturday for the restoration of Olson Lake.

The funds in memory of Adam Hoekstra will be a long-lasting gift, Roble noted, by providing much needed waterfowl habitat for future generations.

Teal whizzed overhead and geese kept a cacophony of noise in the background as more than 100 people joined at the lake near Raymond to dedicate the Olson Lake restoration project as well as a cairn in Hoekstra's memory.

"His enthusiasm and passion for nature is with each and every one of us,'' said Karen Sorenson, Ducks Unlimited volunteer and sponsor from Albert Lea.

Hoekstra, the son of Lloyd and Deb Hoekstra of Spicer, died July 10, 2009.

He was realizing his dream and serving as a regional director for Ducks Unlimited in southeastern Minnesota when he unexpectedly died of a heart infection.

Shortly after his death, friends and family approached Ducks Unlimited about conducting the fund drive. They asked only if they could dedicate a cairn in his memory at a restoration project, according to Adam DeHaan, development director for Ducks Unlimited.

It would be hard to find a site more appropriate for the memorial. Chad Sportel, his nephew, said it was also the last place he had the opportunity to hunt with him. The two had chased pheasants on the uplands around the lake.

Hoekstra was as passionate about grasslands and prairie habitat as he was about waterfowl and shallow waters.

At the dedication, Sportel said Hoekstra would be happiest of all to know that this is a place where dads and sons and other family members can hunt together.

Hoekstra was a 2004 graduate of New London-Spicer High School who loved to hunt. He became especially passionate about the work of Ducks Unlimited while he was earning a bachelor's degree and double majors in communications and public relations at North Dakota State University in Fargo, N.D. He organized a Ducks Unlimited chapter and devoted long hours to raising funds for other chapters in the area while attending college, according to his mother, Deb.

He married Alyssa Wilson in October 2008 and the couple moved to Farmington when Hoekstra was chosen from among more than 100 candidates for the regional director position in southeastern Minnesota.

While there is no undoing the hurt that Adam Hoekstra's loss means to them, his father, Lloyd, said that he and Adam's mother and other family members left the ceremony feeling very good about what was done.

"Adam would have been happy,'' he said.

Tom Cherveny

Tom Cherveny is a regional and outdoor reporter with the West Central Tribune in Willmar, MN.

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