Our all-volunteer board is seeking new members who have a passion for the environment and an interest in board service. Metro Blooms celebrates diversity and is committed to inclusion. We welcome and invite diverse voices to join us. To explore this opportunity, learn more here.
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.
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.
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.
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 participate 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.
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 a 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.
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.
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 Gertens 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 share a love for gardening and plants. Randy is a Hennepin County Master Gardener; he 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.
Travis is a Kansas City native with a background in finance. His decision to go back for a full-time MBA and subsequent move to Target brought him up to Minneapolis. He is now working in digital fulfillment strategy for their store operations organization. A long leash allows him a creative outlet for testing and measuring future capabilities for delivering more product, faster, for Target.com.
From a young age, he has had a deep passion for wildlife and the environment. His summer in graduate school was spent working in San Francisco for a residential solar installer. Travis has more recently found his love of native plants and gardening with the onset of quarantine, unwittingly becoming familiar with Metro Blooms in his own neighborhood with our “I am a Raingarden” signs in nearby boulevards in Northeast Minneapolis. He is in the process of transforming his previously lackluster yard into a multi-season pollinator landscape.