Hubbard County SWCD hires two new full-time staff

The Soil and Water Conservation District has a new forest research technician and water quality resource technician.

Jake Shaughnessy (left) and Brandon Spain-Brist are the newest staff members at the Hubbard County Soil and Water Conservation District. (Submitted photo, left, and Enterprise file photo, right, March 2021)

The Hubbard County Soil and Water Conservation District recently brought two new full-time employees on board.


Brandon Spain-Brist has worked full-time as a forest research technician since Feb. 16.

The graduate of Nevis High School has an associate degree in forestry from Itasca Community College in Grand Rapids and a bachelor degree in natural resource management from the University of Minnesota Crookston.

Since he graduated and moved back to the area, he has had several jobs, including working at the Park Rapids Post Office and the Northwoods Press.

Last year. he interned at the Hubbard County SWCD. “That helped me out with understanding what the SWCD was and how they worked,” he said.


Spain-Brist looks forward to work related to forest stewardship plans and the Wetland Conservation Act, and networking with other conservation organizations to connect landowners with the help they need.

“We’re really trying to push the stewardship plans and private forest management, in hopes to increase the quality of the watersheds around us,” he said. “It all connects to the One Watershed, One Plans that they have been working on for years now. Healthy forests make healthy watersheds, is kind of the saying.”

Currently, due to COVID-19 restrictions, Spain-Brist works two days a week in the office one week and three days the next, alternating with working from home.

Spain-Brist’s girlfriend, McKenzie Harris, teaches at the Nevis School.


Jake Shaughnessy will be working full-time as a water quality resource technician, starting in May.

Shaughnessy is currently completing graduate work at the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks, N.D. He plans to earn a master’s degree in geography with a focus on technology.

Originally from Northome, Minn., he holds a bachelor’s degree in aquatic biology at Bemidji State University with a minor in geographical information systems (GIS).

Before going to graduate school, he worked full-time at the Headwaters Science Center in Bemidji. He has also worked part-time with the SWCD, focusing on education and GIS.


He said his work will involve “working with local groups and community members to maintain and restore water quality across the county, in some of the intersecting watersheds.”

“I’ve spent a lot of time camping in the area,” he said, adding that he grew up fishing and enjoying the lakes and rivers, and looks forward to “making water better for the long term and for generations to come.”

Shaughnessy stressed, “Our area has some of the most important water resources in the state, and a lot of the drinking water that’s down in the Twin Cities and south starts up here. So protecting our water quality for our recreation and our drinking water, protects the water quality and the drinking water for tens of thousands, if not millions, of other Minnesotans.”

To reach SWCD staff, call 732-0121.

Robin Fish is a staff reporter at the Park Rapids Enterprise. Contact him at or 218-252-3053.
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