Supportive sisters

  • Posted: Thursday, Nov. 2nd, 2023

Kathy Messerich and Betsy Moran-Johnson love getting their hands in the soil. They’ve been gardening since they were kids in Hawaii, planting zinnias with their parents. Now settled in Mendota Heights, they started gardening at Dodge to get outdoors during the pandemic. “The gardens saved me,” shares Kathy. “Being able to go (to Dodge) before my day started, listen to the roosters crowing, and work in the garden—it was a godsend!”

Kathy Messerich and Betsy Moran-Johnson stand with their colorful Swiss chard in their garden plot at the Main Property in West St. Paul in October 2023.

At side-by-side plots the twins share their work and fruitful harvest, but the garden gives more than fresh produce. “I wanted to garden but had no idea how therapeutic coming to Dodge would be. It was amazing! It’s been a tough three years,” Betsy recalls. “I wasn’t ready for the impact it would have on me. It made me feel so calm just to be there.” 

Betsy and Kathy also help collect native prairie seeds for Dodge’s restoration work. Through Master Naturalist classes they’ve learned more about the interconnectedness of our world and the importance of native species. “The second benefit (of being at Dodge) is the numbers of wonderful people I meet,” shares Betsy. “Magical—that’s a good word for it!”

Dodge's native restored prairie, where Betsy and Kathy help collect native prairie seeds.

Both Kathy and Betsy also support the work of Dodge through personal gifts. “I love what Dodge does,” says Kathy. “Which is grassroots work: really taking care of the world and affecting change. It’s doing. It’s action.” 


Plant a seed of support today by giving a gift—your donation provides fruitful environmental education opportunities to learners of all ages. To give online, visit or contact Development Director Brenda Teats with questions at [email protected].

This article was originally published in the Nourish Your Need for Nature Newsletter, Fall/Winter 2023.

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