For the members of the Wild Rivers Conservancy Board of Directors, protecting the St. Croix and Namekagon Rivers and their watershed is an ongoing effort
driven by a deep love of place, community, and appreciation for the wild and scenic values of this national park.
In our new “Meet Our Board” series, you’ll get to know the people who make the Conservancy’s work possible throughout the watershed.
As the Hudson, Wisconsin-based Community Service Manager for Xcel Energy, Andrea Jorgenson brings a unique perspective of the river and deep appreciation for the communities along its banks to the Wild Rivers Conservancy's Board of Directors.
“There’s just all this charm and scenic beauty,” she says, “and the river is one of the unique assets that we have in our communities. I feel very blessed to be out in the wonderful communities in Pierce, Polk, and St. Croix Counties, and have these opportunities to meet local leaders.”
Much like the river itself, Andrea’s journey to the St. Croix had a few twists and turns. “You just don’t know where life is going to take you, and you have to go through doors when they open. I got my start as a children’s book illustrator in Minneapolis for the first 7 years of my career. After moving our family to Red Wing, Minnesota, my husband Jon made it possible for me to be a stay-at-home mom to our four children for the next 9 years. That is probably the hardest job I’ve had to date,” she says, laughing.
While living in Red Wing, Andrea opened a photography studio and worked as a program coordinator for Downtown Main Street. “That was my launch into working with a nonprofit and learning community development. We loved being in a river town, so after a brief move to Arizona, we moved back to settle down in Hudson, Wisconsin.”
Andrea’s love for the community of Hudson—and the St. Croix River—quickly blossomed following her family’s move. “I worked for the Hudson Chamber of Commerce for nine years as the Director of Communications and Programs. That’s when I started to get more engaged with the St. Croix. We were so thankful to have the relationships with the park and the Conservancy.”
“I’m a true lover of being outside and do so whenever I can. Being out in nature is where I find my balance.
I love exploring river trails by bike and by kayak.”
After starting her current position with Xcel Energy, Andrea became formally involved with Wild Rivers Conservancy as a Board member. “There’s been a great working relationship between Xcel Energy and the Conservancy for a number of years. I follow in the footsteps of several other board members who also worked at Xcel Energy. Fostering this relationship and supporting the efforts of the Conservancy is very important to us.”
Xcel Energy’s connection to the Riverway predates this national park. In 1969, Xcel Energy—then known as Northern States Power, or NSP—donated approximately 25,000 acres of land to the newly formed St. Croix National Scenic Riverway. Through NSP’s stewardship, these lands had already been open to the public for recreation prior to the donation. Their donation ensured those lands would forever be protected.
“By all measures, the time to take bold action to preserve the St. Croix and its tributary, the Namekagon, has now arrived,” then-NSP board chairman Earl Ewald wrote in a report released in the late 1960s. “Today we are privileged to transfer this wilderness to the people of the nation. It will be theirs to guard as jealously and to use as wisely as those who preserved it for them.”
“These rivers are a huge economic driver for tourism and quality of life,” Andrea notes. “For example, how many tourists come to businesses along the river because they come to see and do things along the river? I value the impact and voice that the Conservancy has in our communities, and it’s an exciting time to be involved.”