Jen joined CAVU in March 2022 as the Tribal Education Liaison. She attributes her connection to nature, food, and the land to her Lakota and Choctaw ancestors. She is an enrolled member of Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma and she is Sičháŋǧu (Brule) Lakota, Bdewákaŋtuŋwaŋ (Mdewakanton) Dakota, and Iháŋktuŋwaŋ (Yankton) Dakota. Jen has been involved in food politics, advocacy, and education for the last 20 years. She has M.A. in Nonprofit Management from Regis University and a B.S. in Zoology from the University of Oklahoma. She is currently working on her Ed.D. in Educational Sustainability at the University of Wisconsin Stevens Point. As part of her dissertation, she is researching best practices for braiding Indigenous knowledge into undergraduate sustainable agriculture courses through Indigenous place-based and land-based pedagogies. Her study is a celebration of the interconnectedness between Native identity and the land, using a strengths-based approach to praising the knowledge and accomplishments of the Lakota people including food sovereignty initiatives such as community gardens, wild foraging of traditional plants and medicines, and returning the bison home.
Jen has been an educator for the last nine years teaching Sustainable Agriculture and Permaculture courses at UMASS Amherst’s Sustainable Food and Farming Bachelor’s program and Peninsula College’s Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems Certificate program. Her love for nonprofits stems from working in environmental organizations in Colorado creating and implementing climate change education and sustainable food programs including community gardens, zero waste in the schools, backyard composting, and urban farming policies.
Jen has a deep love for Pecos Canyon and met her husband, Judd, there 17 years ago. In 2021, Jen and her family moved from the Olympic Peninsula in Washington back to Glorieta to be closer to family and friends. She is an avid beekeeper, hiker, skier, photographer, and a busy mom with two young, wild boys – Oliver and Max, and a Great Pyrenees, Gus.