Rice Lake, WI

Years of ABSF Membership:
~10 years

Native Plant and Wetland Consultant, Business Owner

Why are you interested in being a member of the ABSF Board of Directors? 

I want to give back to the Nordic skiing community that has given me a lifelong sport and always-growing community. I have given back to the ski community over much of my lifetime, including volunteering at Birkie events, and I would be excited to serve in a new way with a role with the American Birkebeiner Board of Directors. I live in Northwestern Wisconsin and understand the communities in our area, and work to assure that the organizations I am involved with benefit the communities and their needs. After two Korteloppets and 18 American Birkebeiners, and many other races at home and abroad, I hope that I can give back to an organization that has created dreams for so many people.

What knowledge and skills do you possess that can benefit the organization?

I have knowledge and experience in many areas including:
-Serving on multiple boards
—Secretary for the Wisconsin Nordic Ski League (2016-2019); also served on the Code of Conduct and Safe Sport Committee creating league policy
—Treasurer and Secretary for the Wisconsin Canoe Heritage Museum (2015-present)
—Secretary, Superior Lobe Chapter, Ice Age Trail Alliance (2022-2023)
—Vice President of the Wisconsin Mycological Society (2023) and Bylaws Committee Chair (2023-present)
—Assisting the Washburn County 4-H Leaders Association Board on their bylaws as well as other organizational management (2012-2022)
—Board member, Embrace Services, Inc (2021-2022)
—President, UWSP Nordic Ski Club (2007-2008)

-I own a business, Tamarack Wetland Services, LLC, and understand and practice the importance of fiscal responsibility and making connections with people in my community.

-I have lived in Northwestern Wisconsin for over a decade and understand the dynamics of the area in relation to economics, populations and youth programming, including skiing in schools! Knowing what local people get excited for and what people need (often a lunch for the kids) is important in building strong relationships and creating community where the Birkie takes place.

-I have volunteered with Birkie One and the Akii-gikinoo’amaading School recently, taking part in the Birkie’s initiative to connect with youth from Lac Courte Oreilles with the outdoors. Working with Uncle Ernie St. Germaine and other teachers to connect youth with their surroundings throughout the year (and in a low/no snow winter) is important to continuing this community and sport. When I lived in Washburn County, I volunteered with the Spooner Nordic Ski Team (2012-2018). I currently work with the Northstar Environmental Charter School in Minong and teach the youth there how to ski and we participate in the Barnebirkie. Teaching youth life skills through skiing and other outdoor activities is essential to the motto ‘Ski.Run.Bike.Live!’

-Listening to young people is an important part of planning for the future. I’ve worked with youth in leadership positions—Washburn County Youth on the County Board, Superior Days and Heart of the North Legislative Day—to bring youth voice into spaces where it often isn’t heard. Bringing that youth voice to the table, through youth-adult partnerships is something that I did with UW-Extension, and have continued in volunteering with Heart of the North. It is important to listen to the young people because they are not only the future, they are leaders now.

-My educational background in Environmental Education and Adventure Education, plus years of getting youth and adults outside—including at camps, nature centers, mushroom forays and local hikes—helps me to think through risk management and the enjoyment of an activity for participants. I have a strong philosophy behind what I practice, and as one of my professors said, keeping people ‘warm, dry and well fed’ is something that the Birkie does think about so that people drive away from their events happy!

-I have skied six live Worldloppet ski races— and 17 virtually during the pandemic— which gives me perspective as a participant in a variety of world class international ski races.

The many experiences, skills and knowledge I have—of skiing (including international ski races), the local community and connections within the ski community—are an asset to the American Birkebeiner Foundation. Between reaching the next generation of skiers and connecting with the worldwide network of skiers, our future is bright!

How do you see yourself helping to fulfill the ABSF vision, mission and values? 

I believe that I am already fulfilling the ABSF vision, mission and values in my everyday life.

Vision: With my background in Environmental and Adventure Education, as well as my experiences taking people outdoors, I find and create spaces where people can be challenged in the outdoors in a way that is best for them. Thinking about physical and mental safety and comfort are important for people to not only have an experience, but want to do it again!

Mission: As a participant in six Worldloppet ski marathons to date, and a plan for four more in the new year, I have experience as a participant in the same league of the American Birkiebeiner. In my business, I encourage people to be good stewards of their lands through native plantings. In my work and volunteering, I enjoy getting people outdoors, to experience awe at a sunset, or the satisfaction of finishing a short or long (fill in the blank – hike, bike, paddle, ski). Working with people of all ages and accommodating people for the many differences we have is something I enjoy doing in getting people outdoors. As an example, I work with Northstar Charter School in Minong with 4-8th graders. In that work, I share in the mission of the Birkie with the kids, who get out to ski, help maintain the trails next to their school, and I share about my ski races around the world with them.

Values: I lead by example in my everyday life. I have worked with many different groups in volunteer and paid positions. These include youth and young adults, Somali community members in Barron and working with members of the LCO and St. Croix tribes, as well as local coalitions and businesses. When we talk about diversity, ‘valuing diversity’ has to go far beyond ‘valuing’ having people at a table and actually listening to what they are bringing to the table. I’ve been at the table at times when people who were considered ‘diverse’ were brought to the discussion and were not heard—those are not spaces that I can be supportive in. Truly valuing what each unique member brings to the table and integrating it into what an organization does is true progress. I bring joy to the activities that I love—or to the benefit of the activities that I love. I don’t necessarily love working on bylaws, but if it means that it can help the sport that I love succeed, I will do it! And everything can be improved—we learn from our mistakes and successes and can continually choose to grow as individuals and communities .