When Pollen Midwest and AARP Minnesota put out their “50 Over 50” list, celebrating people over age 50 who make big contributions to their community, only a handful were from Greater Minnesota.
One of them happens to be from Hubbard County.
Lynn Goodrich, who lives on Tripp Lake in Badoura Township, was nominated by his wife, Theora.
A regular reader of the AARP magazine, Theora saw an article calling for nominations for five categories – disruptors, nonprofit, business, arts, and community. She immediately thought of her husband, and submitted his name with a description of his achievements.
“I’ve been on a lot of different boards and noticed a lot of people,” she said. “There’s no one that I think has done more for the county in different kinds of areas than Lynn has.”
“I was completely unaware that she had done this,” said Lynn. “In fact, I had gotten some emails from them, saying that I was (selected), and I didn’t recognize who the emails were from, so I just discarded them for about two months. Finally, they placed a phone call. ‘Hi! Did you know that you have been…’ ‘No. And who nominated me?’ So, we had a long discussion when she got home.”
“When he heard that I had nominated him, he was really like, ‘I am not deserving! There’s so many other people in the county that are!’” said Theora. “I said, ‘Well, I think you are’ because of the breadth of what he’s done.”
“I think the things that I do impact a lot of people,” Lynn admitted. “And hopefully for the better.”
The Pollen website lists 10 Minnesotans in each of those five categories. Next to a sketch of Lynn’s face, it describes him as a “county caretaker” and goes on to note that when he retired from southern California to his lake home near Nevis, “he had no idea how much time he’d spend volunteering in the local community.”
His involvement started with a three-year term as president of the Tripp Lake Association, then a stint as president of the Hubbard County Coalition of Lake Associations (COLA), besides serving on other boards and volunteering in a variety of ways.
“From driving neighbors to the ER to calling bingo, from hosting lake flotillas to finding speakers for the garden, from planting 50,000 trees to changing the culture of a fire department, Lynn is constantly in motion,” the website said.
Moving here from Huntington Beach, Calif. – where Lynn worked as a computer engineer – was “a big change,” he said. Down there, “it’s very crowded, trafficky…Moving up here, it’s another world.”
In 2008, they moved permanently to a summer getaway that Theora’s father bought when she was a baby.
“When we moved up here, we were here about six months, and then we said it’s time that we need to get involved, to give back, to pay it forward,” said Lynn. “That’s when we started getting involved.”
They started by attending township meetings. “It’s very different here, in a small township like Badoura, compared to the city that we came from,” he said. “We felt we wanted to see what was going on and be involved, and we did.”
Sensing a need for change of leadership and culture at the Eastern Hubbard County Fire District, he was elected to the fire board and continues to serve as a Badoura delegate, now an appointed position.
Life on the lakeshore and its adjacent tree farm led the couple to realize the importance of protecting the area’s waters. They started attending COLA meetings.
“I really liked the fact that it is an all-volunteer organization,” Lynn said. “Nobody’s taking away a paycheck from there, so the monies that go into it end up doing good.”
They helped form the Tripp Lake Association, recognizing that the DNR need an entity to work with while addressing issues with the lake’s outflow. Lynn was part of the team that ran the aquatic invasive species (AIS) inspection program through COLA, before the Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) took it over. Since 2012, he has held elected office as a county SWCD supervisor, where he serves on the personnel committee and participates in the Leech Lake River One Watershed One Plan (1W1P).
“It’s the first all-protection, instead of restoration,” he said. “We’re very fortunate that we live up here, where we don’t have really bad waters…It’s all about preserving what we have today for ourselves and for future generations of Minnesotans.”
In addition, Lynn recently resigned as vice president of the Minnesota COLA, though remains on the board of the statewide organization.
He was also treasurer for many years of Minnesota Deer Hunters Association (MDHA). “I don’t deer hunt,” he said. “I don’t hunt at all. But I think the organization does a lot of good. I like all the youth education and training that they do, and I think the monies are generally well spent, especially at the local level.”
He said he has pulled back lately from his MnCOLA and MDHA duties, recognizing that he is slowing down a bit and needs to reduce his workload.
“I’m mentally very active,” he said. “I’m just physically not able to get around the way that I did before. Hopefully, that will change in the future. But … I don’t want to do something and not do it well.”
Lynn isn’t the only Goodrich who gets involved. Theora, herself, is a member of the Badoura town board, past president of the local hospital auxiliary and now district chair for Minnesota Association of Healthcare Volunteers.
She stressed the importance of mentoring other people to take leadership in volunteer organizations.
Lynn agreed that “a really, really important piece of this is getting the next generations involved now.” The SWCD, for instance, does this by taking area sixth graders to Camp Wilderness for an annual Freshwater Festival where, he said, the kids come away really excited.
“It’s something they can learn and take home,” he said, “that’s going to turn them into good citizens of Hubbard County in the future, and they’ll be doing the stuff that I do – that we do – in the future.”
The thing to take away from all this, Lynn said, is that “there’s a lot of good work that can be done by people who volunteer for things…We cannot continue to have a good, viable county up here without the citizens of the county getting involved in what happens.”