Meet Jackie, Co-Founder and Vice-Chair

Overwhelmed. That’s how I felt when I finished my Permaculture Design Certificate course in 2012 (If you’re wondering what permaculture is check here and here for some good definitions). My teachers were great but I was a complete newbie at this stuff. The course packs in a lot of information in two short weeks and it seemed that everyone had more knowledge about gardening, plants and sustainable living than I did going into the course. I was excited about the new tools I had been given to help make the world a better place but I felt like I had only scratched the surface. I had no idea what my next steps would be. At the same time I was going through a lot of life changes.

In just six months I quit my career as a journalist, went back to school to get an MBA, moved to a new city in another state and got married. It was probably not the best time to try and learn a whole new set of skills and a whole new way of thinking. Needless to say my permaculture pursuits got put on the back burner.

Three years later I found myself back in South Dakota, now with an MBA, on the hunt for a new career. After moving a few more times my husband and I were happy to be settling down in Sioux Falls. My husband had gotten a great job and as he left for work each morning I sat at my computer searching for a nine to five of my own. As any unemployed person can tell you, looking for job can be soul crushing. Often you upload your resume only to find yourself filling out the exact same information into an online form. A few weeks later you get a canned response stating the company has gone with another candidate. So you repeat the process over and over and over again until finally something breaks and your husband comes home to you sitting on the couch in your pajamas watching reruns of Star Trek. I needed to get out of the house and I figured I should do something worthwhile with my free time so I decided to volunteer for a good cause.

I noodled around the Internet keeping my mind open for different volunteer opportunities. I wasn’t sure if I really wanted to get back into permaculture but I did search for local sustainability efforts in Sioux Falls. I’m not sure how I ended up at Veronica Shukla’s (PFF’s Executive Director) website but somehow I found I read through the site and it got me fired up again about all of the principles and concepts I had learned in 2012. I immediately emailed Veronica asking if there was any way I could help out. That email led to a partnership which led to forming a board, which led to becoming a full-blown non-profit with 501c3 status.

I still feel like a newbie with all this permaculture stuff. I’ve learned a lot from Veronica. Her knowledge of plants amazes me and she gives me encouragement to use permaculture principles and explore them more deeply. I feel a little more confident in my abilities than I did four years ago. I think that comes from growing up a bit. I know I’m going to make mistakes but that’s ok because taking a step towards something is much better than doing nothing at all. I look forward to sharing my experiences with you in this blog. Hopefully, I can help you avoid some of the mistakes I make or at least give you some inspiration to try something out on your own. Most of all I hope we can learn and grow together and find the support we need to make our community and world a better place.