I have long admired ICL. It is an honor to join the community of ICL staff and supporters behind the mission. It also feels like coming home.

As a child, I was used to open space. My two siblings and I roamed our 10 acres in western Minnesota, surrounded by huge sugar beet and grain fields. Our summers were spent ,on the farm,’ growing nearly two acres in vegetables, and raising goats, a few pigs and all kinds of poultry.

We didn’t have a television, and we didn’t travel much, other than an annual day trip to visit Minnesota’s Itasca State Park, the headwaters of the Mississippi River. We did read a lot and through books ,traveled’ to amazing places. Thanks to my mother, I learned to appreciate birds, frogs, wildflowers, and all the stories nature tells when you take time to listen and observe. I assumed everyone heard and understood nature’s stories. I didn’t know there were people who dedicated their lives to keeping the stories-and nature-alive.

I went to college with a plan to go to medical school. The summer of my junior year, I was hired as a naturalist intern at the very same Itasca State Park we had visited when I was a kid. I didn’t really know what the job was-imagining forest research, perhaps. The experience, however, reset my life path.

The chance to introduce people to the nuances of nature, helping them develop that same sense of wonder and appreciation for the complexity, beauty and simplicity of our natural world, was the most rewarding thing I could imagine. Every since, I have sought opportunities to help do just that and more-connect people to nature, learn to love it, and then want to help protect it.

Over the years, I have visited oceans and mountains, places I once only read about. I finished the biology degree, and completed master’s coursework in natural resource management, emphasizing agricultural economics to better understand how economics impact decisions about nature. I worked for Minnesota State Parks and Trails as a park planner and manager.

Eleven years ago, my husband Carl and I moved to Idaho, and I served as executive director of the Idaho Botanical Garden. I dug deep into intermountain ecology and the business of running a nonprofit.

Today at ICL, I look forward to supporting the organization whose mission matches my own: to care for the air, water and land that we depend on. I am so glad to be here, and can’t wait to get to know others in the ICL community.