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Profiles in Stewardship: Krista Boltjes Pendergrass, Mother and Homemaker

Posted by Paul Wiemerslage | Feb 26, 2015

Most of our past profiles have been stories of individuals who exercise their ministry of caring for God’s creation in some form of fulltime, paid employment outside their home. But there are many alumni caring for God’s creation, and teaching others the same, within their own homes and families. This edition of Profiles in Stewardship examines an outstanding example of the latter, the full time work of Krista Boltjes Pendergrass, wife of David Pendergrass, an Assistant Research Scientist at Tarleton State University (Texas) and mother of four growing boys, aged 1, 4, 6, and 7.

Today Krista and her family live in Dublin, Texas. Krista came to Au Sable 16 years ago, in 1998, having just completed her freshman year at Northwestern College in Iowa, where she would go on to earn a Bachelor’s degree in Biology and Environmental Science. Krista took Au Sable’s course in Woody Plants, and has been an avid botanist and plant lover ever since, although she has admitted that her present environment in Texas has “some of the meanest plants I’ve ever met.” Krista also worked as an intern and then Research Assistant for the Educational Concerns for Hunger Organization (ECHO) in Florida, and as a research assistant on studies of the response of elk to prescribed burning in Montana before “settling down” in Texas with David to build a home and family. As our latest Profile in Stewardship, we asked Krista about her current work and ministry and their connections to Au Sable.

What do you do in your current position?

I support David in his work as a biologist at Tarleton State and manage our affairs at home. We homeschool our four boys, and I do most of the teaching. All of us in the family work together to keep our (large) garden and family chickens and turkeys healthy, fruitful, and contributing to our “home economy.”

Why is this work important to conservation?

I’m able to share my joy and wonder in creation with my boys every day. In many cases they can identify more creatures than some adults. It’s been easy to teach them.  When they have a question, David and I can easily answer it from our education and experiences. My boys are the next generation of conservationists. It’s fun to see them excited about God’s creation

What was most memorable and important to you about your time at Au Sable?

The most important and memorable thing about being at Au Sable was that I met my husband, of course! Au Sable will always be special to me for that reason and we often daydream about going back with our boys.

Even if I had not met Dave, Au Sable was a confidence booster. I had just finished my freshman year at Northwestern College in Iowa (which was full of many “out of my comfort zone” experiences) and Au Sable helped set my course for the remaining years of college. Au Sable also surrounded me with folks who loved the same things I loved, and with the physical beauty of God’s creation. It’s not hard to thrive and grow in a situation like that.

How does your faith in Jesus Christ affect the work you do today?

It affects everything I do. We desire more than anything that our boys will love and follow Jesus Christ. I teach, guide, and am watched by them intently. We are always seeking what can bring God glory and how we can serve others like Christ served. We’ve been the recipients of the service of others with our young kids. I eagerly look forward to paying the service forward when I’m better able.

How did your time at Au Sable help prepare you for what you are doing now?

I am better able to naturally teach my kids, others’ kids, and even adults about plant identification and life cycles. I find my skills are not as sharp as they once were, but my training at Au Sable and Northwestern gives me confidence that I could easily get them back.

The joy that naturally exuded from Au Sable students and professors about creation is something I try to emulate with others. It’s easy because I find so much joy, wonder, and peace from God’s creation.

Why do you think people should continue to study at Au Sable today?

It’s fun! You are getting college credit for studying something you enjoy. You are surrounded by believers who will encourage you if you let them. You’ll make friends from around the country. The beauty of the northern Michigan campus made the whole time seem like more of a retreat than a college class. It’s hard to achieve that on a typical college campus. I wish I had taken more classes. I have such fond memories of class time, field trips, study groups, and the fun the students had when relaxing.

And you may even meet your spouse! I certainly did not attend Au Sable with that intention, but God knew!

The story of Krista Boltjes Pendergrass is, in one way, like the story of nearly every Au Sable alum, a unique journey of God’s call in the world of serving and protecting His creation. It is also like other stories in common threads that connect it to the Au Sable Institute as a place, a powerful learning experience, and a continuing community. Watch for more stories that follow as we continue to celebrate the life and work of Au Sable alumni in future Profiles in Stewardship.