2017: Member - Michelle Dinesen

2017 Minnesota GreenCorps member Michelle DinesenAbout me. Growing up, I lived in a small town on the prairie and in the Minnesota River valley in southwestern Minnesota. Since both of my parents work in the Minnesota DNR, I started camping, hiking, adventuring, and learning about environmental issues at an early age. When I traveled up river to Morris to get my bachelor's degree in Biology and Environmental Studies from the U of Minnesota - Morris, my passions for nature and protecting the environment only grew stronger. Joining the Minnesota GreenCorps was a natural next step for me, and after living most of my life so far in the prairie pothole region of the state, I've relocated to Rochester for this service year. When I'm not serving, working or wondering what I'll do after MN GreenCorps, you could probably find me reading, knitting/crocheting, dancing, singing, or exploring new places outdoors.

About my service. I am a Local Foods track member serving with the Rochester Alternative Learning Center's (RALC) Green Thumb Initiative. As an alternative high school, the RALC strives to remove barriers between students and a diploma—whether those barriers are attendance issues, chemical dependency, mental illness, or issues at home. Some of my projects at the RALC will involve bringing back the school’s composting program, attending Growing Home board meetings, guiding and mentoring students in classes to foster agricultural innovation and work skills, establishing a sustainable poultry demonstration project, working on getting produce from the school's garden into the cafeteria and sent home with students, and progressing community partnerships with the Green Thumb Initiative. The program is doing great work at the RALC to help students grow and learn about healthy food and making connections to where that food comes from.

Why I serve. After graduating from college this past May, I looked for jobs in a variety of topic areas within the biological world, but quickly realized that all I wanted to do was help people and work to better the environment. Our human impact has had terrible consequences on the natural world, and we all need to work together to make the world a better place to live. As a MN GreenCorps member, I can help make a difference in the lives of the students I work with and bring change in this small pocket of a bigger world that needs our help.

My favorite place to visit in Minnesota. The North Shore, prairies, and caves! I love finding new hiking trails and visiting state and national parks. I can't pick just one place that I love visiting the most!