YES! staff work intensively with teams to assess community assets and needs, create action plans, identify and involve community partners, and link teams with further funding resources to match the students’ passion with a real need and opportunity in their community.
I was born and raised just west of Prairie Woods ELC on a rural acreage. My family helped me cultivate an interest in environmental endeavors through our livestock operations and many acres of CRP (Conservation Reserve Program). I returned to the area after completing a BA in Biology from the University of Minnesota Morris and built a home with my wife and two children on land adjacent to my parents. I have held various jobs in the years since graduation, working as a researcher for a seed company, as well as a food-safety scientist for a meat-packing company. My passion for the outdoors and especially outdoor education has led me to a Program Manager position with YES! (Youth Eco Solutions). I am excited to be involved with YES! students across the state of Minnesota as they pursue environmental and ecological solutions.
I was a YES! student while I was in middle and high school at ACGC (Atwater Cosmos-Grove City) where we completed many projects during the 6 years that I was participating. My favorite projects involved educating younger students in the elementary schools. I took part in projects like our school garden, planting a water/rain barrier, installing hydration stations, reducing hallway lighting, installing energy efficient outdoor lights, placing sorted classroom recycling bins around the campus, and many more projects! Being in YES! helped fuel my passion for the outdoors and living sustainably. I am a student of biology and love the idea of continually learning about the world we live in. My family and I enjoy traveling, hiking, camping, swimming, and finding new places to explore.
I joined the full time Prairie Woods team in November 2013, after volunteering and being a part-time staff member the prior three years. I wear many hats at Prairie Woods as office manager, “as needed” challenge course and environmental education instructor, as well as time travel program leader. One of my many office manager duties is to help support the YES! teams on the business end. I gained my “many hat” experience through working for outdoor education centers in Hudson, WI and Battle Creek, MI. Growing up in Door County, WI is what built my love of the outdoors and a good Midwest winter.
Before joining YES! in September 2019, I worked for 20+ years as an educator in formal and recreational learning settings in Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Illinois. Most recently I taught youth and adults about fishing and aquatic resources with the MinnAqua program at the MN Department of Natural Resources. I graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point with a MS in human dimensions of natural resources and a BS in resource management, specializing in environmental education / interpretation. My husband Rob teaches high school science and is passionate about electric vehicles; we live near Mankato on a bluff overlooking the Minnesota River Valley. In my spare time I practice encaustic painting, a technique that involves fusing layers of melted beeswax to a wooden board with heat.
Prairie Woods Environmental Learning Center (YES! Host)
12718 10th St NE
Spicer, MN 56288