Donna Lynn Dustin, 54, died September 1, 2022, after living with breast cancer for many years.
Donna was born and raised in Hampton, New Hampshire, where she graduated from Winnacunnet High School. She went on to get her undergraduate degree in natural resources from Cornell University and her masters of science degree at the University of Saskatchewan at Saskatoon.
After working in upstate New York and Wisconsin, she moved to Minnesota, working in Montrose before settling into her chosen home of Detroit Lakes, Minnesota. Donna worked for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources as a fisheries research biologist for 24 years. Her research focused on aquatic habitat management.
Donna loved training and working with her hunting dogs. She loved upland bird hunting and was the first female hunting guide at Pine Ridge Grouse Camp in Remer, Minnesota. She was passionate about American woodcock. Every spring she and her specially trained dogs would find woodcock nests, band the chicks, and release them. Over the years she banded hundreds of chicks, and the data she collected greatly influenced management strategies for this unique woodland shorebird. She also trained others to help with this research, even guiding a Japanese film crew looking for woodcock for a documentary.
Donna was actively involved in many groups, including Woodcock Minnesota, American Fisheries Society, Ruffed Grouse Society, Kleine Munsterlander Group, Izaak Walton League, Becoming an Outdoor Woman, Sucker Creek Preserve, Hausken Woods Foundation, Marshmallow Foundation, and local coffee clubs.
In addition to hunting and woodcock banding, Donna loved reading, kayaking, x-country skiing, hockey, and beekeeping, as well as various fiber arts: knitting, rug hooking, quilting, etc. She loved to solve problems and was many people’s first person to call for advice on a variety of topics.
Donna is survived by her mother, Anne Dustin of Laconia, New Hampshire; sisters Nancy Dustin of Argyle, New York and Debra Fuller (Dan) of Rupert, Vermont; brother John Dustin (Lanie) of Oamaru, New Zealand; her current hunting dog, Kuni; ex-husband Rob Williams; and many nieces and nephews.
She is predeceased by her father, William Dustin, brother James Dustin, and her favorite hunting dog, Annie.
In lieu of flowers, donations in her honor can be made to Friends of Tamarac to support Tamarac National Wildlife Refuge’s environmental education program.
Checks can be made to Friends of Tamarac, 35704 County Hwy 26, Rochert, MN 56578.
Online donations can be made using this link (https://www.tamaracfriends.org/membership/donate/), entering the amount in “additional donation” with Donna's name in the comments.
A celebration of her life will be held on Sunday, September 25 from 10am-noon at 824 Washington Avenue in Detroit Lakes.