Saying goodbye to a dear friend, Tecla Karpen

Tecla Karpen and students in "Karpen Woods"

Tecla Karpen and local Hastings students helping to restore "Karpen Woods" on the blufftop.

Local conservation hero, educator and environmental advocate Tecla Rose Karpen passed away in late May.

I first met Tecla in 1999 during a visit to her bluffland home along the Mississippi River in Hastings. As the relatively new conservation director at FMR, I was spending a lot of time out of the office meeting landowners and trying to understand the lay of the land. Tecla was one of the first.

What struck me then and every time we got together was her passion for and innate understanding of the Mississippi ecosystem and the importance of protecting land along it. Tecla’s keen interest in this fortified me to go out and engage more and more landowners. If there are more landowners like Tecla, I thought, this was going to be so fun and productive. It didn’t take long to discover that not all landowners are like Tecla. In fact, no one was like Tecla.

I consider it a great honor to have had the opportunity to assist Tecla in permanently protecting her 5 acres of forested bluffland above the river in Hastings. In addition to securing a conservation easement with Dakota County, FMR also worked with her to restore the forest habitat, eventually pulling several local high schoolers to use it as an educational experience as well.

Tecla was an inspiration to many. She was the energy behind the establishment of the Hastings Environmental Protectors, submitted letters to the editor about environmental issues and attended city council meetings to advocate for a healthy environment.

Hastings, Dakota County and Minnesota have lost a strong and clarion voice for our environment. We can’t replace Tecla but we can exchange her voice with ours. We need to step in and fill this void.

It is fitting here to include a prayer that appeared on Tecla’s memorial program:
Peace Prayer for the Earth
Creator God,
Thank you for the gift of beautiful planet
Earth. May we share it as one global family
And together commit to its holy healing!
Give us compassion and peace;
…among nations
…within communities
…and in our families.
We are the Earth become conscious!

Thank you, Tecla.