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Mower County Soil & Water Conservation District moves forward with new management

Cody Fox will serve as district manager for Mower County Soil & Water Conservation District, replacing Justin Hanson, who took a role with the Minnesota Board of Water & Soil Resource leadership team.

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Cody Fox, new district manager of Mower Soil & Water Conservation District, talks in summer 2021 about an upland-storage structure built in Dexter Township to improve water quality and reduce flooding to Riverland Community College students.
Contributed / Mower Soil & Water Conservation District
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AUSTIN, Minn. — A familiar face will lead Mower Soil & Water Conservation District.

Cody Fox is the new district manager for Mower SWCD after being selected in late April by the Mower SWCD Board of Supervisors, according to a press release. Fox previously served as project manager for Mower SWCD and Cedar River Watershed District.

Fox replaces Justin Hanson, who took a role with the Minnesota Board of Water & Soil Resources leadership team.

“I’m greatly honored to have the support of the board and staff,” said Fox. “Justin did an amazing job throughout his career with Mower SWCD and Cedar River Watershed District, and I will work hard to continue our office’s strong legacy of working with private landowners to get conservation on the ground.”

Mower SWCD is contracted annually with CRWD to do the work of the watershed district since 2007.


Fox received the Watershed District Employee of the Year Award from the BWSR at the Minnesota Association of Watershed Districts’ annual conference this past winter.

John Jaschke, executive director of BWSR, called Fox an example of local staff being a “driving force behind conservation delivery" in the state. Hanson said that Fox's work ethic is respected by the project landowners and farmers he works with.

“We have completed our project plans on time and on budget while exceeding our ambitious goals,” said Hanson. “All of this could not have happened without Cody’s passion, knowledge and credibility. He’s going to be a great leader.”

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Mower SWCD’s Cody Fox (left) and Justin Hanson testify Feb. 11, 2019, at the Minnesota Legislature about a request for state funding for the Cedar River Watershed District’s upland-storage structures.
Contributed / Mower Soil &amp; Water Conservation District&nbsp;<br/>

A native of New Ulm, Minnesota, Fox joined Mower SWCD in 2010, where he started working with farmers and rural landowners on conservation projects, including grass waterways and basins that control stormwater and sediment. A part-time firefighter in Albert Lea, Fox and his wife, Kelsey, have two children, Levi and Savannah. He’s also an avid hunter and conservationist with his own parcel of hunting land in Mower County, according to the release.

Since 2016, Fox has led CRWD’s Capital Improvement Plan that has led to nearly $7 million in construction of 14 structures. CIP aims to improve water quality and reduce flooding by building large, earthen dams — mostly in the upland areas of the flashy Dobbins Creek watershed — to capture significant amounts of stormwater or snowmelt and slowly release it.

Leaving a good mark

After starting his role in Mower SWCD in 2004 right after the Austin area experienced its worst-known flooding, Hanson now joins BWSR staff as the assistant director for field operations. Hanson served as Mower SWCD’s resource specialist from 2004 to 2015, when he replaced retiring, longtime manager Bev Nordby.

Hanson led both Mower SWCD and CRWD since 2015, earning each statewide recognition. In 2017, CRWD was honored with the Watershed District of the Year Award by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources at MAWD’s annual conference. In 2021, Mower SWCD was chosen as SWCD of the Year by the Minnesota Association of Soil & Water Conservation Districts.

Hanson said he always has found something special about working for Mower SWCD.


“It was a great opportunity as I was allowed to chase down grants and do things that maybe were outside of my job description and let me grow into this position,” said Hanson.

What he enjoyed most about the work in Mower County and Cedar River watershed was working as a team.

“They’ve been a great staff, supporting me and letting me lead,” said Hanson. “I’m really excited to see what direction they take when I get out of their way a little bit.”

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