Board of Directors
Lois loves to encourage friends and neighbors to try sustainable Metro Blooms best practices by demonstrating them in the yard of her lake home. In 2019 she installed a colorful rain chain to highlight roof runoff to the raingarden she built a few years ago. A daily pleasure is to observe the many types of bees and butterflies that visit the raingarden. Her most recent project was to replace ordinary turf grass with a bee lawn she learned about from Metro Blooms.
Norman is a recently retired corporate scientist that helped to develop nutrition support products for hospital patients. He developed a strong interest in how to grow his own vegetables due to his training in food science and nutrition. Once he had his own yard to dig in, Norman set up both edible and flower gardens. More recently, Norman has been working with a local cemetery to develop a green burial section where a one-acre prairie restoration is underway to allow patrons to participant in environmentally responsible memorialization. Norman enjoys silent sports, especially bicycling and cross-country skiing.
Norman joined the board of Metro Blooms in 2018 with the goal of helping the local community learn about gardening that incorporates improvement of the environment.
What he loves in his garden: “My favorite part of gardening is picking fresh tomatoes and using them in the kitchen to make a great sandwich or salad. I especially like to grow some heirloom varieties that are not available at the farmers market or stores. Guests really enjoy the flavor and the fact that they were picked at the peak of flavor with no chemicals being used on the plants and fruits.”
Johnn is a Missouri native with a lifelong interest in gardening and horticultural education. In 2005, he began the transition from hobby to student, taking Master Gardener courses at the Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis, Missouri. Twelve years later, after retiring from the hotel industry, Johnn moved to Minnesota and became a Certified Master Gardener, graduating from the University of Minnesota Extension Master Gardener Program. He received awards for Distinguished Service and was also recognized for his work in Community Gardener special projects.
Johnn joined Metro Blooms in 2019 to help expand the organization’s reach and development in underserved communities. Dedicated to serving and having a positive impact on his community, he is a true champion for environmental justice and protection of clean water.
Johnn’s love of gardening has spawned travel throughout North America, including several cities in the United States, Canada and Mexico. In addition to gardening, Johnn also makes time for his interests in writing, scuba diving, tennis, music and foreign language.
He currently resides in Minnesota with his wife and family.
Johnn’s favorite Minnesota wildflower is black huckleberry. In supporting Metro Blooms, he says, “Imagine a small child interacting with our endangered pollinators. Imagine yourself as that small child seeing a monarch butterfly or a brave hummingbird for the first time.”
Carol is a professor emerita at the School of Social Work at St. Kate’s – St. Thomas and lifelong gardener who began her affiliation with Metro Blooms as an early attendee of raingarden workshops. As a graduate of the inaugural class of Master Water Stewards in 2013, she was further drawn to the work of Metro Blooms as a participant in the gardening awards program and as a volunteer alley captain for the Blooming Alleys initiative. A member of the Hale neighborhood, Carol received the Best Environmental Stewardship and Nate Siegel Award from Metro Blooms in 2016.
Carol’s experiences as a teacher, project director, researcher, administrator and board member of an international professional organization provide a solid basis for her work with the Metro Blooms Board as members navigate new roles and relationships within its programs. She is active in the work of the Nominations Committee and the Bylaws and Strategic Plan committees. Carol has a passion for the resilience focus of Metro Blooms and values its mission-based commitment to sustainability through environmental justice and stewardship that integrates beauty, healing and protection in our landscapes.
A favorite activity: “I love sitting in my yard watching the bees and butterflies using the food of the blooms. Sometimes I get my camera and try to chase them to landing spots to get a photo – a sometimes fickle pursuit.”
Susan Nelson combines Feng Shui and personalized coaching to guide her clients to create positive and profound shifts in their lives. She is the first certified coach of Alpha Element Training Programs, which she shares with her individual clients, in corporate team-building events, and coaches’ training programs. In her live workshops, Susan inspires audiences to tap into their innate creative genius. Her topics include “The ART of Change”, “Dream Big!” and “Shift Happens: The Power of Intention and Feng Shui”. She is the author of Thin Begins Within. Susan has been a member of Metro Blooms for over a decade. Her vision for Metro Blooms includes promoting the educational workshop program to cities along the Mississippi River watershed and cleaning our waterways one community at a time. Susan’s other interests include reading, gardening, dancing and photography. She and her husband, Gregg Kubera, enjoy music, laughter, travel and spending time with friends.
“My neighbors have encouraged me with their enthusiasm for the raingarden I helped plant near the entrance to our cul-de-sac. The garden captures up to 1500 gallons of runoff in a one-inch rain event, prevents a surprising amount of debris and pollutants from entering the storm sewer, attracts pollinators and is beautiful. The neighbors’ most frequently mentioned flower is the cardinal flower. I can see why!”
Rachel has a career in brand management and consumer insights at General Mills. She uses her curiosity and strategic vision to guide business decisions focused on serving the needs of consumers.
Rachel began her connection to Metro Blooms through a raingarden workshop. Seven years and two houses later, she and her husband have planted dozens of native plants. They enjoy the beauty their plants provide in each season of the year and all the life they support. This habitat provides hours of enjoyment for their two young kids, from watching hummingbirds and monarchs to leaf collecting and bug explorations.
Before joining the Metro Blooms board, Rachel served on the City of Chanhassen’s Environmental Commission, which advocates for the city’s natural resources and provides citizens with opportunities to improve the quality of their environment. During her term on the commission, the city joined the Minnesota Green Steps Cities program.
Says Rachel: “I support Metro Blooms because the world needs more of the unbridled joy of toddlers chasing butterflies– pictured, monarch butterfly on blazing star, happy toddler Jack.”
Bridget Rau grew up on a dairy farm in rural Wisconsin and moved to the big city of Minneapolis more than 30 years ago. She is employed part time as a legal assistant and at a local garden center. When Bridget purchased her home 21 years ago, her yard was a blank slate with just a lonely tree and a few lilacs. Since then she has created a garden with native perennials and shrubs, plenty of hostas in the shade and veggies in the few sunny spots. The garden set the scene to celebrate the wedding of Bridget and her husband Randy in September 2006. Since then, the garage has been transformed into a “garten huis” from which they enjoy summer evenings grilling out and dining al fresco while watching the antics of their four chickens roaming the backyard.
Bridget has been involved with the Kenny Neighborhood Garden Club since its beginnings in 1999, is a member of the Lynnhurst Garden Club and has been certified by the Minnesota Nursery and Landscape Association since 2006. She likes doing projects to improve the Kenny neighborhood and extending those projects into the whole community.
One of her favorite flowers: “This is my bloodroot which I love because it blooms first thing in the spring and lets me know winter is almost over. It sometimes surprises me with a new little patch which I like to share!”
Randy is employed as the groundskeeper gardener at the Minneapolis Community & Technical College in downtown Minneapolis where he plants, tends and weeds the extensive gardens, including several raingardens. He has won several awards from the Minneapolis Downtown Improvement District and the American Society of Landscape Architects. Randy’s experience comes from previous work at Gerten’s and Bachman’s and from his own garden where he has developed a love of perennials, shrubs and native plants. Randy and his wife Bridget, another board member, share a love for gardening and plants. Last year, Randy became a Hennepin County Master Gardener and won an award his first year for his work on a group project for children. Randy is a 20+ year veteran of the US Navy and Air Force and currently a reservist in the US Air Force. He works to build community through his service on Metro Blooms’ board of directors.
Randy’s favorite flower is “black-eyed Susan because it’s native, attracts pollinators and looks really cool. It’s easy to grow, self seeds well and works together with a lot of other plants.”
Joelle Van Gaalen
Joelle is a Financial Aid Specialist at Capella University where she manages an experimental financial aid initiative. Joelle has a passion for native plants and ecology which she developed while studying Biology at Dordt College in Iowa. Since living in Minneapolis, Joelle has become interested in incorporating native plants, raingardens and sustainable solutions into the urban environment.
Joelle’s involvement with Metro Blooms began when she volunteered as a block leader for the Blooming Boulevards project in her neighborhood. Joelle is always working to add new species of native plants to her garden. She also cares for a vegetable garden and a flock of chickens at her home in North Minneapolis.
“Since moving to the city, I have realized that our built environments can be designed with ecological principles to preserve our precious resources. I support Metro Blooms because they collaborate with neighborhoods to implement solutions across the Metro to protect our environment.”
When Bob and his wife downsized their residence over 20 years ago, they inherited a small home but a bigger piece of property that was virtually 90% grass. At their former home, gardening wasn’t a major project; raising four children took priority. But the new home brought more freedom from parenthood, so they decided to raise a garden, little by little, until now they have more garden than grass: three raingardens, a host of native plants, a block of raingardens on James Avenue, an herb garden, raised beds, trees, shrubs, etc. etc. etc.
Bob’s involvement in Metro Blooms has grown from being a volunteer for a Metro Blooms program to serving on the board for many years. His greatest joy from gardening is the raising of a community. Admirers walk, run, or bike past his garden and express their gratitude for what they see. They want to know more about what’s blooming, taking a seat in the front yard to schmooze about what they can do to their yards to strengthen the environment.
One of Bob’s reasons for serving: “I support the programs and initiatives of Metro Blooms because I want my grandchildren to live and love the diversity, complexity and necessity of a healthy environment.”