Lake Steward of the Month: Jamie Van

Restoring Landscapes – Boots on the Ground Style

May 2, 2022

By Cathy Higley

Maybe you’ve heard there is a new Water Program Director at the North Lakeland Discovery Center? Meet Jamie Van, short for VandenLangenberg, who jumped into Emily Heald’s role this spring (congrats Emily on landing a job with UW-Extension!).

Jamie comes across as confident and down to earth, channeling something like a cross between Calamity Jane (frontierswomen sharpshooter) and Melinda Myers (present day garden tip expert). Just…plain…cool. And she has plenty of technical experience to back it up.

Jamie is originally from the northern Illinois area and has always had an interest in wildlife and the outdoors. She graduated from Northland College in Ashland, WI, and from there spent a lot of time working in the field on various jobs.

Jamie finds a comfy spot on the boat after a long day’s work of Asian carp management on the Illinois River.

Jamie has experience in managing Asian carp in Illinois while she worked for the Illinois Natural History Survey. She spent two summers determining the homing behavior and delineating the elevation ranges of salamanders in both the southern and northern Appalachian Mountains. She also worked for a lake and pond consultant to manage aquatic plants and restore shorelines.

But the real exciting stuff started happening when she worked for Marek Landscaping as a Restoration Ecologist. Marek Landscaping is a company that specialized in shoreland, prairie, and bluff restoration using all native plants in the Milwaukee area. She worked on projects like redesigning the Neighborhood House of Milwaukee’s parking lot to include many types of green infrastructure. On other properties she controlled invasive Phragmites and invasive cattail stands and coaxed them into flourishing native plantings. She was so good at her job, that eventually her supervisor promoted her to Operations Manager. She definitely loved her job!

Jamie and crew pose for photo. The crew had just finished a controlled burn at the Potawatomi Business Campus in Milwaukee.

So why did she come all the way to Manitowish Waters for a job? Jamie and her family decided that it was time for a change of scenery. While they had in mind something like Alaska initially, reality set in and they set their sites on northern Wisconsin. Yup, we are almost just as cool as Alaska here!

Jamie is hoping to use some of her restoration skills while here. “It’s definitely not an urban landscape,
but there are plenty of lakeshores that could use a little or a lot of restoration up here,” Jamie mentions. And with the DNR’s Healthy Lakes Program as well as other state funding for restorations, she might be able to scratch that itch. Thanks Jamie, for making your way to Vilas County! We can’t wait to see what good stuff you will be accomplishing!