Man to retire after 50-year Minnesota DNR career

Larry Koster has a boat that’s long been collecting dust. He
figures it’s time to get it back on the water.”I do like to fish
and I can sit there for a long time, even if I’m not catching
anything,” Koster said. “I just like to be outside, enjoying

After 50 years with the Minnesota DNR as a laborer at the Talcot
Lake Wildlife Management Area in Cottonwood County, Koster will
retire – reluctantly – on April 30.

At age 75, Koster admits that he is not quite as strong and
agile as he once was and recent back surgery has also “slowed me
down some. I’d like to keep on going but I guess it’s time.” For
someone who has always embraced the physical nature of
outdoor  work it was not an easy decision to make.

In looking over his shoulder at his career, Koster was quick to
say he would do it all again. “I’ve always thought I was pretty
lucky to get a job here. They were looking for farm kids at the
time so I fit in really good. And I have always really enjoyed it.”
Koster was raised on a farm near Fulda but moved into town when he
was a young man.

When Koster was first hired as a nine-month per year laborer he
was paid $1.25 per hour. After one year he was given a raise. “The
second year they gave me a penny an hour raise. Heck, I thought
that was fine, better than nothing. In those days we didn’t have
any benefits like vacation or insurance but we did get to work a
lot of hours.”

During the early years of his career Koster and the other
laborers spent the much of their time working in the DNR’s tree
nursery where they would plant, raise and then transplant trees
around the management area. Along with mowing and spraying weeds,
they also devoted a considerable amount of time to fencing.

“Back then just about all the farmers had livestock so we had to
put up and fix a lot of fence,” Koster explained. Over time,
farming changed and livestock no longer grazed outside as they once
did. Koster’s duties likewise changed.

“Now I spend a lot of time on light maintenance, checking
everything over to make sure it’s running, doing some welding and
that kind of stuff,” he said. He is also an expert dozer operator
and is frequently called upon to put his skills to use on improving
parking lots and roads and wetland restorations.

Talcot Area Wildlife Manager Judy Markl, one of at least six
managers Koster has worked under, said Koster has “always been such
a pleasant, reliable and skilled employee for us. We’re definitely
going to miss him, not just as an employee but as a friend.”

Koster makes no bones about the fact that he will also miss his
co-workers and the job, but “I guess you gotta quit sometime. Time
to get that boat out.”

Categories: Rob Drieslein

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