Nathan Johnson (B.S. ’04), community development director and city planner in Pine City, Minnesota, was named the 2014 Outstanding Small Town and Rural Planner by the American Planning Association. Pine City (pop. 3,127) is located 65 miles northeast of Minneapolis.
“I grew up in Pine City, and I envisioned working for the City from the time I was in the 10th grade playing Sim City on my lunch hours,” Johnson says. The computer game, in which players are city planners, sparked Johnson’s interest in pursuing a degree in urban planning and working in the field.
One of his most satisfying achievements during his 10-year tenure is the development of a segment of the Twin Cities-to-Twin Ports Trail through Pine City. The 150-mile bike trail will eventually connect Minneapolis-St. Paul to Duluth-Superior. “I feel like I am giving back to the community that gave me so much. It all came full circle and I feel fortunate I have a career I love in a small town I love even more,” Johnson says.
Photo by Farrah Fossum