Get to know a local mama: Meet Jen

I don’t think you can teach that in a video game.

I was born and raised in rural Congerville, IL. I was blessed to grow up in the country on a small farm. We had many farm animals. We were the kids that built forts in the barn and the woods and made mud pies and mud slides in the creek. No doubt there were times as I grew older, I had wished I lived in the city and had neighbor friends closer than 1 mile away. Now, looking back and raising my own children on the same land, I wouldn’t change a thing.

We rode our bikes to our friend’s house and to the nearest town for ice cream, about 3 miles away. We rode our bikes to our neighbors to play and swim.

When I was 15, I got my first job at the local campground and rode my bike to work everyday. It was here that I met my first true love and married him 5 years later.

I attended Illinois Central College after high school, initially in Occupational therapy and then went on to nursing school at Mennonite College of Nursing. I had always looked up to the Nurse Pracitioner at our local Family Doctor’s office and wanted to be just like her. I was blessed to be able to go back to school after our first born and get my Master’s degree in Nursing to become a Family Nurse Practitioner. I have been working in this role for 14 years now and can truly say, “I love my job.” It is very rewarding, helping those in need.

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We have 3 children, Emma(16), Quillian (11) and Waylon (9). They are truly the light of my life. They are our legacy. My husband and I were married for 18 years until he passed away from Melanoma in 2015. He battled this for 5 years and fought a terrific fight against this horrible illness. But trials just make us closer and stronger and make us appreciate what we have.

So…my passion is being a good mom, teaching my kids to be healthy and take care of themselves. I have also started fundraising for Melanoma Prevention. We started our first annual adventure race last year. Kayak- Bike-Run Race. Next year we plan to have a kids adventure race also. The kids are really excited about this.

I really love the outdoors and anytime I can get my kids out to hike and explore, we go. Canoeing, kayaking, fishing, shed hunting, mushroom hunting, you name it. If it can be done outside, we go.

I love watching the excitement on their face when they find special treasures in the woods or the creek. We are looking forward to warmer weather when we can enjoy sitting around the fire out by the lake, playing flashlight tag and camping out on the lawn watching the stars.

Having groups of kids over and playing games outdoors, making S’mores by the campfire and enjoying Nature is what we do to keep our kids off electronics. I really do try to limit the screen time.

All of my kids have Archery bows and so target shooting has become another favorite past time. We also have horses and are blessed to have areas to ride them on. Trail rides are especially peaceful.

My youngest, Waylon started caring for our Chickens a few years ago and enjoys watching them grow and collecting the eggs. He sells them to the neighbors.

Quil, our middle child, raised a Turkey last year and we had him for Thanksgiving Dinner. He was delicious, of course!

Emma, our oldest, is in charge of the horses, but I enjoy helping also. Caring for animals has been healing for all of us in a way. We all enjoy time outdoors with our pets. The chores they have with the animals teaches them to be responsible and shows that hard work does pay off. I don’t think you can teach that in a video game.