Barb Mayes Boustead's [2014-present] childhood interest in both weather and Little House has culminated in her being the biggest Little House fan who also happens to be a meteorologist. Born in Michigan and now based in Omaha, Nebraska, she has turned Little House weather into her special field of study and has presented at the last two LauraPalooza conferences. Barb and her meteorologist husband, Josh, are happy parents of a 14-year-old lab/collie mix and a son born in December 2014.
Judy Green [2014-present] is retired from 21 years of working in the children's department of Medina County District Library in Medina, Ohio, where over the years she developed her program "Laura Ingalls Wilder: The Story Behind the Stories." Judy has a son and a daughter, two grandchildren, and two cats, and currently lives in Valley City, Ohio with husband, Ed.
Laura McLemore [2013-present] was destined to a lifelong love of Laura Ingalls Wilder. Her mother first heard Little House in the Big Woods when her second grade teacher read the book aloud in 1947. She named her second daughter after the beloved author. In turn, Laura began reading the Little House books as a second grader, which started her on the path as a life-long lover of all things Little House. Laura has been an educator for over 30 years. As a college professor, she developed a unique way to introduce future teachers to the fun of integrating Language Arts and Social Studies. Laura presented her first-person reenactment of LIW for the first time to a room full of prospective elementary teachers in 1993. Since that time she has shared the life of LIW with more than 1,000 children in Arkansas and Kansas, in teacher workshops, church programs, and appears annually at Apple Festival in Topeka, Kansas. Laura lives in Maize, Kansas, located near Wichita. Dr. Laura, as she is called by her students, is a wife, mother and grandma to two lovable grandboys. She is currently a fifth-grade teacher in Wichita Public Schools.
Connie Ryle Neumann [2009-present] served for 32 years as a teacher and children’s librarian in public schools and libraries in Texas, Germany, and Colorado. Now retired, she participates in local history in Longmont, Colorado and gives “On the Trail of Laura Ingalls Wilder” programs for schools, libraries, and civic groups, sharing the author’s real life that inspired the “Little House” books. As a child and later a beginning teacher, Connie learned first-hand about life in the “old days” while listening to her Texas grandmother's stories as a farm woman, quilter, and former teacher in one-room country schools. Connie connected these family stories to the "Little House" books that she read as a girl and was re-reading as a 3rd Grade teacher. From there she pursued a lifelong interest in American pioneer history and Women of the West, collecting textiles and antiques that specifically relate to the "Little House" books. Since 1989 Connie has traveled to all of the Ingalls-Wilder homesites and related research archives to dig deeper into the real history behind the writing. She enjoys sharing her photographs, studies, antiques, and adventures with all ages of Little House readers. She also has documented many of the Colorado connections that Laura, Almanzo, and Rose had with the state. Her early Internet research as a librarian in the 1990s connected her with many of the same “Laura fans” that still are writing today online, becoming lifelong Laura friends and jump-starting LIWLRA. Born and raised in Wichita Falls, Texas, Connie graduated from Baylor University, BS Ed., and University of North Texas, MLS. She is married to an “Okie” who also enjoys history and exploring new places.
Karen Pearce’s love of all things Laura began as a child watching reruns of the television show in the 1980s. This led to a love of the books a few years later, and a deep interest in the real life of Laura Ingalls Wilder. While always a fan, Karen’s interest and excitement for LIW skyrocketed in 2011 when she discovered the Beyond Little House website, the LIWRA and a community of other LIW enthusiasts. During the summer of 2012, Karen visited several of the homesites in addition to attending Laurapalooza 2012. A professional musician, Karen earned her bachelor's degree in music education and clarinet performance from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville and her master's in clarinet performance from Indiana University in Bloomington. She is active as a performer and maintains a large studio of clarinet students in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. Karen also plays the hammered dulcimer recreationally, which adds another dimension to her love of all things rustic and pioneer. Karen’s husband, Kevin, also a professional musician, often accompanies her to LIW-related events, and their orange tabby, Katie, is interested in researching the lives of Black Susan and Kitty Ingalls.
Linda Starbuck (2014-2016) is recently retired as Senior Director for The ACT test product for ACT, Inc. in Iowa City, Iowa, a non-profit organization whose mission is "Helping people achieve education and workplace success". Linda was with ACT over 36 years in a variety of positions leading departments and special projects within the corporation. Linda rediscovered “Laura” about 17 years ago on a trip to DeSmet and has never looked back. She has visited all but 2 of the homesites and has attended both LauraPalooza conferences. She coordinates the LIW programs at Ushers Ferry Historic Village in Cedar Rapids, IA where she has volunteered as a historic interpreter for 15 years. She has also volunteered at the Pepin Laura Days Quilt and Sew for many years and is a novice quilter doing her quilts totally by hand. Linda is also President of Friends of Ushers Ferry focusing on grants and fundraising, volunteers for the Iowa City Animal Center, and is working on a book of poetry. She is excited to devote her time to the LIWLRA and to be part of such an exciting organization.
Iowa-based Sarah S. Uthoff [2009-2015] is a widely respected authority on Laura Ingalls Wilder. She has been visiting Laura’s homesites in the Midwest on a regular basis since 1983. Much in demand as a speaker on Laura and other topics, Sarah has presented at several of the homesites, is on the Humanities Iowa Speakers Bureau, and spoke at both LauraPalooza conferences. Sarah is also is the creator and host of the Laura Ingalls Wilder–themed podcast. She’s been involved in several historical preservation endeavors, most recently running a national campaign to identify letters penned by Laura. Her interest in Laura led her to an interest in social history, specifically one-room schools and historic foodways. She runs the one-room school listserv and serves on the board of the Country School Association of America and is the head of the Midwest Open Air Museums Coordinating Council Historic Foodways Resource Group. A reference librarian at Kirkwood Community College in Cedar Rapids, Sarah was an editor of and frequent contributor to the Homesteader, Sandra Hume’s newsletter about Laura Ingalls Wilder that was published for ten years. She maintains her own website and blog, Trundlebed Tales, Click here to read Sarah’s posts. Find her social media links at about.me.
Past Board Members
Laura Chapman [2013-2014] was drawn to the Little House world at an elementary school book fair when she discovered a series about a girl named Laura written by a woman named Laura. Name vanity aside, she fell in love with the characters and stories. In recent years, Laura fed her love for the series’ legacy through the blogosphere. On her blog, Change the Word, she regularly features her visits to LIW-related attractions and her attempts at recreating dishes from the books. With a background in newspaper journalism and corporate communication, Laura is the communications coordinator at the International Quilt Study Center & Museum in Lincoln, Nebraska, and a novelist.
Jonni Craven’s [2009-2014] devotion to Almanzo and Laura Ingalls Wilder, which began in elementary school, has led to three other passions in life – music, reading, and traveling. When not visiting Little House sites around the country, she continues to work on a presentation to introduce children to the music in the Little House books. Jonni lives in beautiful Carmel, California and in her spare time, works as the assistant to the President of the Tor House Foundation, helping preserve the history of California poet Robinson Jeffers, and serves on the board of directors of the Carmel Heritage Society. Click here to read Jonni’s posts.
While Matt Hume cannot by any stretch call himself a Laura Ingalls Wilder enthusiast, he is married to one. That, and his 25 years of accounting experience, make him an ideal fit for Chief Financial Officer. He is also a farmer, like Pa and Almanzo, and already knew what a Chinook was when he married his Laura fan.
Sandra Hume [2009-2015] came to her love of the Little House series through the TV screen on Monday nights in the 1970s. Something about those braids, that lopsided house, that school bell … Walnut Grove seemed like a pretty neat place to live. (The year her parents signed her up for art lessons that ended at 8:30 on Mondays—third grade, as she recalls—was a particularly trying time in her young life.) Only a chance closing-credits sighting of “BASED ON THE LITTLE HOUSE SERIES OF BOOKS BY LAURA INGALLS WILDER” led to her discovery of the book series. Sandra’s upbringing in suburban Boston didn’t exactly square with the windswept prairies and daily farm work of Laura’s life, so settling into Wisconsin or Plum Creek or De Smet provided an ideal escape, over and over and over again, from 1980s adolescence. Later on, things started to make sense. She found herself in the middle of the country, married to a farmer, identifying with Laura’s story in a much more visceral way. From her new Midwestern base Sandra was finally able to realize her dream of visiting Laura’s homesites and museums, each trip fueling her passion for these living testaments to Laura’s life. A writer by trade, she put her skills to use publishing the Homesteader, a newsletter for Little House fans about Laura and her homesites, which was mailed to paying subscribers all over the world for ten years, until 2012. Today Sandra, now a mom of three, continues to blend her love for all things Laura with her career as a freelance writer, and is currently working on both a memoir about her experiences as a city girl turned farmer’s wife and a family travel guide to the Little House sites. Click here to read Sandra’s posts.
LauraPalooza 2012 attendees will remember Susan Thurlow's  presentation on black frontier physician Dr. George Tann; a booklet form of the Tann presentation is on the gift store shelves of the Walnut Grove, Burr Oak, Spring Valley, and Independence homesites. Susan is a veteran educator with a passion for American history and children's literature. She currently homeschools and teaches literature, composition, grammar, and history at Collegium Study Center in Colorado Springs. Susan has authored two children's literature study guides for the classic books Sarah, Plain and Tall and The Wheel on the School, published by Common Sense Press. Her love for Laura is evidenced throughout the Thurlow home: her prairie dress and bonnet, Charlotte doll, multiple copies of Little House books, as well as biographies, maps, historical papers, and other Wilder lore!
Laura Welser [2013-2014] fell in love with the Little House books after her sixth grade teacher introduced them to her class. Throughout her life she has read everything she could about Laura, always wanting to know more. After her children were grown, and she found herself with a few extra minutes, Laura devoted much of her spare time to learning more about Laura Ingalls Wilder and doing her little part to help preserve Laura’s legacy. Besides her fascination with LIW, Laura loves time spent with family, reading, writing, history, horses and antiquing. She has always managed to find a way to relate many of her passions back to LIW and the Little House books. In the past five years, Laura was able to experience her lifelong dream of visiting several of Laura’s homesites and connected with others who share her enthusiasm at LauraPalooza 2010 and 2012. Laura and her husband have two grown children, a spoiled Lab mix pup, and own and operate a water well drilling business in Michigan.