Meet Our Team

Our team here at Prairie Oaks is made up of dedicated people who want to aid in the connecting of people and the planet. 

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Chris Johnson

Chris is proud to be co-founder (with Kim Devine-Johnson) of POI.  Much of his work here grows from the same roots as a nearly 30-year career in teaching, mentoring, speaking, writing, facilitation, and consulting.  He is the principal of the Milkweed Group, LLC, whose mission is to create safe, courageous spaces that nourish inner wisdom, sharpen clarity of purpose, and fuel capacity to live and lead for a better world.

He has been active with state, regional, and national projects around issues of  vocation, calling, and purpose; life transitions; leadership development; personal, social, and ecological sustainability; experiential learning; civic engagement; and spirituality in life and work.  He’s a Circles of Trust® facilitator in association with Parker J. Palmer and the Center for Courage and Renewal, and facilitates several Courage retreats at POI (and elsewhere) each year.

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Grace Harrison

Grace Harrison (formerly Corbin) resides in Minneapolis, MN with her husband and her cat. She is currently pursuing a master’s degree in public ministry at Garrett Evangelical Theological Seminary in Evanston, IL. She received her undergraduate degree at Augsburg University in Youth and Family Ministry. After that she spent almost three years working with the Minneapolis Lutherans doing environmental justice organizing across the Twin Cities and the state.

She has a passion for reading, all animals, and spending time outdoors. She is proud to be a member of the Prairie Oaks Institute board as she feels closely connected with POI’s values and vision.

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Ben Hilding

Ben Hilding is a native of Hudson, WI. He and his wife, Alicia, met at Gustavus Adolphus College and both went on to Luther Seminary where they each received their Masters of Divinity degrees, and are now ordained pastors in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. Ben has since finished a Masters of Arts in Leadership degree from Augsburg University. Ben and Alicia Hilding are co-pastors at Holy Trinity Lutheran Church of New Prague, and are proud parents of two daughters.

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Steven Johnson

Steven M. Johnson is a Landscape Designer, volunteering his efforts at POI since earning both a Master of Landscape Architecture and Master of Design in Sustainable Environments at Iowa State University in 2017.  Handicrafts include master planning, project implementation, and photography.  He also serves as the current Chair of the Site & Facilities Committee, and as a member of the Program & Communications Committee. Steve joined the POI Team out of similarities in visions and values.  POI is a unique place of convergence from focus on the three areas of “Retreat, Ecology, and Education.”  Steven wears many hats to exercise a unique eye for potential in convergence of artistic appearance, functional performance, and symbolic meaning.  While the mission of POI begins with reference to “cultivating ways of living and leading that affirm interdependence,” Steven has a similar motto for his life’s work.  “Bloom where you are planted” refers to cultivating opportunities for stewardship of place, contribution to team, and joy in journey.

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Sam Farmer-Lies

Sam is a Belle Plaine native who returned to work with POI as a steward fellow with fiancée Adriana. Sam enjoys working out on the farm and finishing a day feeling accomplished. Sam is one of the go to people for POI as he handles site maintenance  and organizing our monthly work weekends. 

Sam likes to be outside enjoying the nice weather, and likes to spend his time with friends and family. 

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Board President

Wendy Cladwell

Wendy Caldwell is the Executive Director of the Monarch Joint Venture, a national partnership of over 100 organizations working to conserve monarch butterflies as a flagship for broader conservation benefits.

Wendy grew up on a farm in west-central Minnesota and has always had a passion for the diversity of life and nature. As a conservation professional, she is passionate about leveraging the charisma of the monarch butterfly to inspire people of all backgrounds to find moments to enjoy the beauty of the natural world and take actions to protect it for future generations. Wendy lives in the rural Belle Plaine community with her husband and three young children. They seek every opportunity to enjoy the peace and solace that Prairie Oaks offers the community, especially through leading an annual "Monarch Walk" hosted at POI each fall. 

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Board Treasurer 

Kathy Farmer

Kathy is a senior technology leader focused on technology adoption and process with an eye to developing positive models of human/machine interaction.  She lives in Belle Plaine with her husband Tim and appreciates being close enough to the Prairie Oaks campus to enjoy its refreshing energy often.

Kathy is an avid gardener, hiker, and reader, who loves to both experience and learn about natural and human-built systems. As a long-time board member, she has served on standing and event committees as well as being a past president and vice president. 

She believes Prairie Oaks is bringing together people and organizations that share a common vision of building systems and communities on a human scale, that exist in harmony with the natural environment and offer opportunities for healing and growth to all people. 

 

 

 

 

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Board Member

Kim Devine-Johnson

Kim  is co-founder of Prairie Oaks Institute (along with husband Chris Johnson), having grown up on the century farm that became the Prairie Oaks farm campus. Mother of three, she works as a pediatric physical therapist at Children's Minnesota - Minneapolis. She is an active member of her church and community. Environmental stewardship and conservation practices are an important focus for Kim, along with nurturing what makes her heart sing and supporting others to do the same.

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Board Member

Tom Morgan

Tom is a Professor of Leadership Studies at Augsburg University. He holds a Ph.D. in Educational Policy from the University of Minnesota, an M.S. in Economics from the University of Oregon, and an MBA in Finance & Operations Research from the University of Denver. He has served as a member of the Steering Committee for the Faith in the City Collaborative since its inception in 1999 until 2012 and serves on the Boards of Seeing Things Whole and Select Learning Resources.

Tom has over 35 years of teaching experience and has extensive experience in institutional planning, facilitating professional development workshops, and the design and implementation of new programs. He designed and launched Augsburg’s first graduate program, the Master of Arts in Leadership. Prior to working in higher education, he worked doing research and grant writing in health care. He has lived in the Twin Cities for the past thirty years. Tom is married, has one daughter, and thinks about riding his recumbent bicycle. He holds a private pilot’s license, enjoys woodworking, and is an avid walker.

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Stewardship Fellow

Adriana Lopez

Adriana is a transplant from California but has quickly made Minnesota a home. She, along with fiancé Sam, owns and operates Kongō Farms. Their little farm works in partnership with POI to bring awareness and attention to sustainable ways of farming. Adriana has fallen in love with the outdoors since moving to Minnesota and loves seeing the new growth after a harsh winter.

Adriana enjoys being with loved ones and spending time together as well as camping and days on the lake. She looks forward to the next year in partnership with POI and to marry her life partner in October!

Board Secretary

Board Vice President

Board Member

Site Vision and Planning

Stewardship Fellow