Nurturing nature and community in SE MN with Jennifer Lindahl

June 2024

As the new Southeast CERT Coordinator, Jennifer Lindahl is arriving at CERTs with an array of experience. Lindahl's background is deep-rooted in her passion for nature, family, and community.

Born and raised in Zimmerman, Minnesota, Lindahl's love for the outdoors was first cultivated at a young age. Her formative years were spent volunteering at a local farm, helping rehabilitate abused horses. At 16, she became the youngest member of the Minnesota Conservation Corps Aquatic Exotics Boat Inspection Program. A close up headshot of a woman. She appears white with chin-length brown hair. She has a big smile. She wears hoop earrings and glasses. The background is blurred but a large grassy knoll and trees can be seen stretching out in the distance.

“Instead of going to prom I decided to go to Yellowstone to be part of a citizen scientist opportunity,” recalls Lindahl. “I got to live with and work with scientists studying the ecosystem.”

Lindahl later attended University of Wisconsin - Stevens Point, where she earned a degree in natural science and a minor in biology. Her studies took her around the world, from studying wildlife in Israel to exploring the ecosystems of Jamaica. 

“From there I worked for Wisconsin’s Vilas County identifying aquatic vegetation at all the public boat landings and worked for the DNR fisheries department in Eagle River,” she says.

Soon Lindahl married and had kids, during which time she started a grass-based farm, a community garden, and a few farmers markets. Living off the grid in a 386-square-foot home, Lindahl embraced sustainability with passive solar energy and an outhouse equipped with a composting toilet.

 “I have since divorced and moved off the farm,” she says. “Today I keep busy with my two teenagers and community events in Pepin, where we live.”

Grassroots parenting

Despite her abundance of adventures, Lindahl says it’s motherhood that truly planted the seeds for her work in the community. Lindahl spent years homeschooling her two kids, allowing her to pass down her love of nature.

“When we go on walks, I point out all the native flowers and plants that you can easily identify, and then I quiz them on it. They really hate that!” she shares with a laugh. “But I think that it's so important that they know these things.”

As a parent, Lindahl values her kids getting involved. Together, they volunteer regularly and the teens often tag along to see their mom in action with the community.

“We talk about changing the world on a global level, but sometimes forget to talk about change on a community level. I like to ask myself, what can my kids and I do today that's gonna make that difference?’”

We talk about changing the world on a global level, but sometimes forget to talk about change on a community level. 

- Jennifer Lindahl
A woman takes a close-up selfie with two children and a dog.

Lindahl with her kids and family dog. 

A gray  Delorean car parked in an indoor event space. The drivers door is open toward the ceiling and inside sits a smiling woman

Lindahl tries out a retrofitted electric Delorean at a community event!

A yellow grassy knoll overlooking a bright blue body of water and a clear blue sky above. On the knoll stands three people, an adult and two children, with their arms stretched horizontally outward. Their features can't be made out but they appear to be looking toward the water.

Lindahl and her kids exploring nature. 

Collective community

Drawn to CERTs’ grassroots approach to change, Lindahl says she felt the Southeast CERT Coordinator role was a perfect fit. Since starting the position, she’s spent countless hours attending local clean energy events and connecting with community members in southeast Minnesota. Lindahl says her work is about finding common ground with the people she meets.  

“If it’s a parent, a farmer, or someone on the go, I’ll ask myself, ‘How can I support this person today? What information can I pass on to help them make a difference?’”

Understanding that everyone she meets is coming from a different background, Lindahl takes a practical approach to sharing clean energy information. 

“One of the things that I really try to focus on is that not everybody has the disposable income to do things like solar or geothermal. As a mom, I get it. I know what it feels like to not only do without but to struggle,” she shares. “But that doesn't mean that there aren't things that we can do to make a difference.”

Emphasizing accessible solutions, Lindahl focuses on initiatives like energy-efficient lighting and bill management assistance as everyday steps that people can take.

"It's about reminding people of the connections they have and the power of collective action." Lindahl's vision for a brighter, more sustainable future is planted in her belief that change begins at the grassroots level, with each person empowered to make a difference in their own community.

"We are stronger as a group; we can make big changes when we aren’t doing it alone.”

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