Born and raised in rural Minnesota, Jared L. Schmidt grew up on the same prairies made famous by Laura Ingalls Wilder’s children’s novel, On the Banks of Plum Creek. Upon completing his bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Northwestern College in Orange City, Iowa, he joined AmeriCorps and moved to western Montana for two years serving as a VISTA for county and state government agencies. Jared then moved back to the Land of 10,000 Lakes to pursue a master’s degree in Applied Anthropology from Minnesota State University, Mankato. During this time, he was introduced to the discipline of folklore by his graduate advisor and after completing his MS experience in Mankato, decided to pursue a doctorate in Folklore Studies. Jared is currently a PhD track graduate student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison where he focuses on folklore of the Upper Midwest, heritage, museum studies, foodways, and digital folklore. If he is not studying or spending time with his partner, Katie, and taking their golden doodle on walks he can be found tending bar at a craft microbrewery in Madison.
In America’s Dairyland, expressing one’s ethnic identity sometimes means not only participating in the revitalization of a folk art but