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Our Team

Happy Dancing Turtle Staff

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Quinn Swanson

Executive Director

Since joining the Resilient Living Campus in 2004, Quinn has been actively engaged in realizing many Campus initiatives, from early building projects with cob and straw bales to program creation, growth and management with fairs, tours, classes, events and beyond. She holds a degree in Environmental Studies and is passionate about long and healthy life on the planet for humans, plants, and animals; spiders...not so much. Quinn feels this is work she is meant to do and is grateful to be surrounded by others who are likewise dedicated to stewardship, sustainability, and resilience. She enjoys spending time in nature and on water with her husband and furs, and wishes there were more time in the day for her many and varied creative pursuits.


Michelle started at Happy Dancing Turtle in 2010 and currently serves as the Program Coordinator. As such, she is responsible for planning, coordinating, and executing new and existing programs and events for youth and adults. Michelle holds a B.S. in Elementary Education from Bemidji State University and is passionate about working with children, especially our youngest learners, and has worked with them in several different capacities including as a nanny, middle school Educational Assistant, in-home daycare provider, and in her current position with HDT. While the environment and nature have always been important to her, she has learned so much while working at HDT and has really come to embrace the creepy crawlies! While not at work, Michelle enjoys reading (especially in her hammock!), taking her dog for walks, playing games, and camping with her husband and two daughters.

Michelle Hoefs

Program Coordinator

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Jim Chamberlin is a Conservation Technician for Happy Dancing Turtle. He is a certified Technical Service Provider for the Natural Resource Conservation Service and works with farmers and ranchers to help develop and implement holistic grazing and agroforestry plans. He has an A.A.S. degree in Natural Resource Management from Central Lakes College and holds Certificates in Ecosystem Silviculture from the University of MN and Agroforestry from the University of Missouri. Jim serves as a District Supervisor for the Crow Wing Soil and Water Conservation District, is past President of the Sustainable Farming Association of MN and serves on several other non-profit Boards. Jim and his wife Audra own and operate Island Lake Farm, a 109 acre diversified farm and forestry operation near Deerwood, MN. He is passionate about real food, family, and skiing deep powder.

Jim Chamberlin

Conservation Technician


David Wilson, a native of Pequot Lakes,  is the Food Production Coordinator at Happy Dancing Turtle. Some of his duties include seeding, gardening of all types, landscaping, and building and maintaining aquaponic and hydroponic systems.  David grew up on a farm west of Pequot where he learned about farming, and gardening and has a deep respect for animals and nature.  He has worked as an underground utilities install and repair technician and has been a volunteer firefighter for 15 years. His hobbies include blacksmithing and outdoor sports like fishing. David currently lives outside of Pequot Lakes with his wife and 5 children.

Dave Wilson

Food Production Coordinator

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Anna joined Happy Dancing Turtle in Spring 2022. She helps Dave with the gardens and maintenance around Campus. Growing up in Brainerd with a large vegetable garden and flower beds, Anna rescued/raised numerous neighborhood stray animals, including a baby crow and skunks. She has an A.A.S. degree in Horticulture from Central Lakes College. Anna has a heartfelt appreciation for all animals, insects, plants and nature. Her hobbies include hiking, camping, biking, and kayaking. Someday soon she hopes to own land for a hobby farm and big garden.

Anna Smith

Garden & Grounds


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New to Happy Dancing Turtle staff in 2021, Jenny is a previous attendee/presenter/vendor at Back to Basics. In her role as Public Relations and Communications Specialist, she is eager to share the many stories of how Happy Dancing Turtle's mission has made and will make an impact. With a background in writing and library science, she's almost never without a book. She is also a daily walker and loves to bike and be outdoors. She weaves rag rugs from repurposed materials and enjoys spending time with her husband and two inimitable cats. Born and raised in International Falls, she still considers Central Minnesota the "south."

Jenny Hill

Public Relations & Communications Specialist

Driftless Region Staff


Nora is Happy Dancing Turtle’s program specialist, which entails designing and implementing educational programs for youth and adults. Many summers spent outdoors at summer camp led Nora to pursue a B.S. in Conservation and Resource Management, but her love for sharing her passion for nature led her down the environmental education route instead, obtaining an M.S. in Education and a K-6 MN Teaching license. Nora started at the Pine River location but has moved on to the Driftless Region, bringing HDT’s programs with her! She lives in Trempealeau, WI with her husband, Jake and beloved pup, Stryder. When she’s not at work, you’ll find her outdoors (no matter the season!) hiking, paddling, snowshoeing, skiing, camping, reading, hammocking, looking for critters, taking pictures, or just staring and wondering at the marvels of nature!

Nora Woodworth

Program Specialist

Delaney Dahl

Program Assistant

Delaney is the program assistant at Happy Dancing Turtle working alongside Nora providing educational programs throughout the Driftless Region.  Recently graduating with a B.S. in Environmental Education/Interpretation Delaney joined in Summer 2023. She grew up in the La Crosse area always spending time outdoors, which led her to want to connect others to nature through education. Excited to be back in the area, Delaney likes to spend her time reading books, hiking, biking, and fishing!

Support Staff


Jules Cale
HR/Administration Manager

Erika O'Brien
Sr. Bookkeeper & Office Coordinator

Trudi Amundson
Bookkeeper/Office Assistant

Board of Directors

Lynn Hunt

Board Chair

Wearing hats that cover most managerial and technology issues, Lynn helped grow a start-up company to almost 200 employees. The company gathered many awards in both technology and fast growth. Ernst and Young honored Lynn as a finalist in the Entrepreneur of the Year competition for 2004.

Having finished her MBA at Carlson School of Management, University of Minnesota she is preparing to grow companies to help the world. Some areas that Hunt Utilities Group, LLC (HUG) is focusing on are alternative energy, ecological housing and sustainable living and micro-farming. With her husband Paul's creative abilities and downright stubbornness to get materials to do what he wants them to, it might be possible to create a house out of local/indigenous materials that create a large footprint in comfort, but a small environmental footprint.

There are more ideas for companies floating around in Lynn’s head than can ever be handled by one Woman, but she is going to try and build a few more companies before her great-grandchildren arrive and she is too busy to build anymore.

Paul Hunt


During the day, this mild-mannered techno-nerd with white hair and a slight stammer barely attends his regular job as a HUG engineering guru. When the phones stop ringing and the moon comes out, Paul then gets a chance to retreat into the secret lair of his own mind and becomes…Ta-Da... SUPER INVENTOR!!!

Faster than a train of thought!  Able to leap tall buildings from the simple ground! While occupying his special world, he can bend reality to fit his super plans. He can make electrons dance at his bidding. His X-ray vision can peer deeply under the laws of physics, allowing him to see things as they could be instead of how they are.

Several hours after the daylight returns, our superhero sluggishly dons the clothing of his alter ego, Paul. He slowly gets pulled back into the consciousness of the popular world (the one that most of us call reality). On very special occasions he manages to bring a new gadget into this reality that helps make the world a better place.

Ryan Hunt


After skipping through junior high and taking advantage of the post-secondary enrollment option, he graduated from Brainerd Community College at age 16, one day after receiving his high school diploma. He then attended the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis where he earned a double degree in Chemistry and Chemical Engineering at the age of 20. After school, Ryan moved up to Pequot Lakes to help his parents with their rapidly growing company Hunt Technologies, Inc. At Hunt Technologies, he learned a great deal about the electric power industry and how we all use it in our homes. From there, he followed his folks when their interests turned to energy conservation and efficient buildings and they founded Hunt Utilities Group LLC (HUG). At HUG, he has explored technologies to help us all live in a more sustainable manner on our planet. Some of those include natural building materials, solar heating, solar and wind power, and renewable fuels.

Quinn Swanson

Executive Director

Since joining the Resilient Living Campus in 2004, Quinn has been actively engaged in realizing many Campus initiatives, from early building projects with cob and straw bales to program creation, growth and management with fairs, tours, classes, events and beyond. She holds a degree in Environmental Studies and is passionate about long and healthy life on the planet for humans, plants, and animals; spiders...not so much. Quinn feels this is work she is meant to do and is grateful to be surrounded by others who are likewise dedicated to stewardship, sustainability, and resilience. She enjoys spending time in nature and on water with her husband and furs, and wishes there were more time in the day for her many and varied creative pursuits.

Donald Hickman


Don Hickman is continually awed by the creativity and dedication of the citizens he works with in Central Minnesota. As vice president for community and workforce development at the Initiative Foundation, Don helps connect community leaders with helpful resources to create opportunities and improve the quality of life in Central Minnesota. Hickman stays busy with his wife and two children. His family enjoys participating in service projects in Vietnam, including helping to build or restore schools or homes and fostering sustainable employment opportunities.

State-side, Hickman has set personal a goal to climb all 54 of the peaks in Colorado that are taller than 14,000 feet. At last count, he only has four to go! Hickman also enjoys biking--he is an active member of the Paul Bunyan Cycle Club in Brainerd--and he loves taking in a baseball game on a warm summer evening.


Erika works in the Ganawendakamigaawigamig (Office of Earth-Caretaking or Sustainability Office) at Bemidji State University. She completed her BA in Biology from the University of Minnesota, Morris in 1998 and her Master’s degree in Environmental Studies from BSU in 2006. Her background is in science teaching, and Erika and her husband taught for two years in Mexico and three years in Kuwait before returning home to Northern Minnesota. In 2014, Erika was named one of the top 40 under 40 business professionals in the region. Erika is currently on the board for Happy Dancing Turtle in Pine River and is a core member of the City of Bemidji Sustainability Committee. Erika maintains an active schedule with two young boys and a passion for making the Bemidji community a healthier and more sustainable place.

Erika Bailey-Johnson


Jennifer Smith


In September of 2012, Jennifer moved to the Brainerd Lakes Area after spending 7 years in Bethesda, Maryland. She started Nisswa Yoga in October of 2012. Having grown up in Minnesota, Jennifer has lived and traveled around the world. She is delighted to be back in Minnesota, having her family nearby and being surrounded by the pristine natural beauty of Northern Minnesota. 

Julie Anderholm


Julie began independent financial consulting through the Small Business Development Center in Rochester, MN and for the past eighteen years has been with the SBDC in Brainerd, MN. She consults with small business concentrating on financial analysis and forecasting as well as general business information. 

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Deanne Trottier


Deanne works at Eagle View elementary School in Pequot Lakes doing what she calls her dream job. In 2021, after 30+ years of teaching South Dakota, Colorado and Minnesota, she started a new environmentally focused STEM (E-STEM) program for all K-4 Eagle View students. The E-STEM classes are held mainly outdoors where the standards are taught through hands-on experiences such as maple syruping, nature journaling and pond studies. Deanne believes that learning outdoors ignites a sense of wonder and helps students develop a love of and lasting commitment to caring for the environment. Her passion for teaching and learning outdoors started at an early age while canoeing, backpacking and camping trips with her family. She and her husband, Pat, have continued those traditions with their five children. When she is not teaching, you can find Deanne reading, practicing yoga or exploring woods and water trails in her kayak, hiking boots, skis or snowshoes.

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Alexa Shapiro

Alexa is a Minnesota transplant from Southern California. She made her way to Minnesota after serving for a year with AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps. During her service year, Alexa volunteered with a variety of organizations across the United States and discovered her passion for working to strengthen communities. After moving to Minnesota, Alexa began working in environmental education and stewardship through careers at Duluth Parks and Recreation and later in the Driftless region directing outdoor based programs for youth and adults. Alexa is most proud of her work founding the Winona Outdoor Collaborative, where she used her passion for inclusion to help shift the culture of outdoor recreation to be more welcoming for all. Currently, Alexa is the Executive Director of the Winona Outdoor Collaborative and works as the Event Manager at Project Optimist, where she coordinates moderated dialogues that aim to bridge cultural divides and strengthen rural communities. Alexa has a Masters in Recreation Management from the University of Wisconsin, La Crosse and is a certified Wilderness First Responder.

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Kevin Thesing


Kevin, co-owner of Lakes Printing in Brainerd, is a lifelong resident of the Brainerd Lakes Area. Kevin has been actively involved in non-profits, non-profit boards and business organizations his entire
life. His favorite things involve anything related to agriculture and anything that creates or supports opportunities for students. Kevin has said many times that he has been blessed to live, work, play,
learn, and raise a family in God’s country.

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Charlie Mitchell (she/they) works for KAXE, a public radio station based in Grand Rapids, Minnesota. With a background in evolutionary biology, Charlie never expected to find herself working for a radio station, but has discovered she really enjoys it!  Alongside staff phenologist John Latimer, Charlie works with K-12 students and teachers throughout the state, getting kids outside and studying nature. Charlie also authors the weekly Season Watch Newsletter. Outside of work, Charlie enjoys floating down the St. Croix River, admiring wildlife, and taking long naps in a hammock.


Photo credit: Lorie Shaull

Charlie Mitchell


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