Each week, all summer long on Mallard Island, there are two caretakers, trained in the island systems and present to answer questions or help transport you to and from the mainland. Most are volunteers who trade their time on the island for their caretaking duties. Since 2015, the Oberholtzer Foundation has expanded the staffing of the island from one person to three. Beth Waterhouse will continue to serve as the organization’s Executive Director and as “head caretaker” for a few weeks each summer. Her time, however, is now augmented by the talents and time of two summer program directors: Mairi Doerr and Prudence Johnson.
Mairi Doerr has cut hay, raised goats, and made cheese for a living. She plays the native wooden flute, and she works for the DNR at a park near her home in Cannon Falls. She knows the BWCA well. Mairi has been attracted to Mallard Island for almost ten years now, and she excels at the repair projects, boating on the big lake, and any moments of contact with people. Mairi’s enthusiasm for Mallard Island shows in her comment, “I am delighted to serve the Foundation in this new capacity. My head, heart and hands will offer you my best!”
Prudence Johnson is better known in the regional world of music, but the island will steal some of her time this summer, too. Prudence trained as a caretaker a few years ago, yet she has been interested in Mallard Island for a dozen years, especially the stories that go with the place. She says, “History has always had a strong pull on me; it has been the focus of my academic studies and a great deal of my extra-curricular reading, and for several years I’ve put most of my artistic energies into creating works that present historical subjects as entertainment.” Prudence currently also works part-time at Birchbark Books in Minneapolis, and their focus on the Ojibwe language and culture strengthens her interest in Mallard.