Raised on a dairy farm near Fairmont, MN, I learned an appreciation for nature and the outdoors at an early age. Mixed in amongst the hard work of the farm, many of my favorite childhood memories consist of engineering springtime waterways in the muddy farmyard, building forts in the grove, and exploring the outdoors.
I left farm life behind after graduating high school and, despite the notable defects of being neither Scandinavian nor Lutheran, was accepted to Augustana College in Sioux Falls, where I earned my B.S. degree in Biology in 1996.
My interest in environmental studies led me to graduate school at Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa. There I studied Ecology and Evolutionary Biology in the Botany Department, specializing in tallgrass prairie restoration ecology. I graduated with my M.S. in 1999 with a passion for teaching and for the environment.
I stumbled into my dream career of being an Interpretive Naturalist for the Iowa County Conservation Board system and served as the Head Naturalist for Kossuth County in North Central Iowa. For nearly a decade, I helped educate the people of Kossuth County about a wide range of nature and environmental topics, and am proud to have helped create the Water’s Edge Nature Center near Algona before my departure.
An opportunity to educate Minnesotans about aquatic resources led me to return to my home state and work for the Minnesota DNR’s MinnAqua Program out of the Southern Region Headquarters in New Ulm, where I worked for three years.
I was hired by Gustavus in 2011 to be the Interpretive Naturalist for the Linnaeus Arboretum. Shortly after my arrival, I was asked to be BOTH the Interpretive Naturalist AND the Executive Director of the Arboretum (or at least to do the best I can as one person filling two positions).
My passion is outdoor education, and I find nothing more rewarding than helping visitors, students and families connect with nature and with each other. Working with young people, from Gusties to pre-schoolers, is particularly rewarding and particularly important. Young people today are far too disconnected from the natural world and far too distracted by the multitude of indoor technology-based entertainment options (dagnabbit!). In fact, technology and the increased pace of life have cause most people, young and old, to drift further from the natural world. That is why places like the Linnaeus Arboretum and the learning and exploration opportunities provided here are so important.
I live in the country, just east of Mankato, with my wife Rachel (an elementary educator) and my three kids, Calvin, Olivia and Will. The family occupies the vast majority of any free time I might have, but also constitutes the vast majority of the joy in my life.
B.S. - Biology - Augustana College, Sioux Falls SD, '96, M.S. - Ecology and Evolutionary Biology - Iowa State University, Ames, IA, '99