Longtime Minnesota DNR naturalist hanging up his boots

After 11 years, Scott Kudelka is stepping down as Minnesota Department of Natural Resources naturalist at Minneopa State Park.
Published: Oct. 5, 2022 at 7:25 PM CDT|Updated: Oct. 5, 2022 at 7:30 PM CDT
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MANKATO, Minn. (KEYC) - For 11 years, Scott Kudelka has been a Minnesota Department of Natural Resources naturalist at Minneopa State Park.

He has guided people through the park, explored different places, and held presentations about the animals found around the area.

“Of course, having this as your office you couldn’t ask for a better job,” Kudelka said.

On Jan. 1, 2023, Kudelka will be stepping down.

“I would imagine it’ll probably hit me on my first day hike, which will be my last official program,” Kudelka added. “Then I’ll be like, ‘oh yeah, I’m retiring.’”

For more than a decade, he has been teaching visitors and volunteers about the state park, the Minnesota River, and more, as well as bringing his research to schools around southern Minnesota.

He says it goes beyond the presentations, it’s the people.

“I think one of my favorite memories is doing the first day hike. And the first time I did it, I think I had twelve people,” Kudelka recalled. “It was well below zero cold. And then another time we had 97 people show up, and I guess you just never know. And it’s just a great way to start the first day of the year. And I always have new people and then always the regulars.”

Kudelka says he will continue writing books about state parks; he currently has 11 published books.

“I’ll have memories of hanging out with them and meeting with them and doing presentations and having them come to my presentations. That’s the one thing I’m going to take away from this job,” said Kudelka.

The Vine Adult Community Center is hosting an event where Kudelka will share his experiences of working as a naturalist for the DNR at Minneopa Park.

The event will take place on Oct. 20 starting at 11:30 a.m.