Meet Our Staff
Kellie Grayden is our Program Director and a therapeutic riding instructor certified through Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International (PATH). She is certified through the American Red Cross in adult/child/infant CPR, first aid, and AEG. She continues her education in relevant classes with the University of Minnesota, People, Incorporated, and others. She has over 20 years of equine experience and grew up riding and showing American Saddlebreds at the state, national, and world levels. Kellie spent her summers and free time up until college as a groom working with horses as much as she possibly could. She is also a professional with the United States Equestrian Federation.
She attended the University of North Dakota. After college she spent time as a trainer and riding instructor teaching Saddleseat, Hunt Seat, Western/Western Working, and Driving to adults and children of all ages and abilities.
Kellie and her husband, Anthony, live in Hugo and own a business together called CardConnect Midwest. She enjoys working with all of our riders.
Kjerstin Berg is an instructor. She has been riding and showing horses for over 20 years. She started in the Arabian show world with her horse, Bugsy, and eventually moved into the American Saddlebred world. She spent many summers and weekends grooming, showing, and helping at horse shows before going off to college. After college she spent time riding and caring for Icelandic and Morgan horses.
Kjerstin completed her undergraduate at the University of Minnesota-Duluth. She has been working in the behavioral health field for ten years. Kjerstin is a Licensed Alcohol and Drug Counselor and has recently completed her Masters in Clinical Psychology. She is also working towards achieving her state license as a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor.
Ellyn Thompson is an instructor. Ellyn began taking riding lessons in 4th grade after her mom signed her up thinking that horses would be a phase. Since then, she has worked as a counselor at horse camps and worked with several horse-centered non-profits while continuing taking lessons and leasing horses. She attended Concordia University for her undergraduate education where she worked as a tutor and was the president of the CSP History Club while she earned a degree in secondary education and social studies teaching license. She recently earned a Master's degree in Curriculum and Instruction and now holds an additional teaching license in reading. Ellyn works as a reading interventionist for middle and high school students in St. Paul.
Ellyn loves Thoroughbreds and has been riding off the track Thoroughbreds since middle school when she first fell in love with the breed. She continues to ride and take lessons as an adult, always learning and wanting to better herself. When she is not at the barn, Ellyn is an avid reader and reliable patron of her local library. Ellyn is also a religious supporter of Chelsea Football Club and follower of the English Premier League. She is a member of the Dons Trust making her a part owner of AFC Wimbledon, a professional football club based in London, England.
Piper Mork is an instructor. She has been riding horses since she was six years old and got her own horse. Piper took lessons for Western and English disciplines for five years. She then began helping her father foster, nurture, and train rescue horses for various rescue organizations. Piper began instructing students in riding around the age of 14. She also started competing during her early teens in barrel racing and then began jumping lessons. She no longer competes but continues to teach. Outside of horses, Piper is currently a student at the University of Northwestern St. Paul and work at the library there also. She enjoys reading, cooking, and watching movies with her cat.
Allie is a 2019 graduate from St. Catherine University where she obtained her degree in communication studies and human resources. She currently works full-time in human resources for a corporation in Bloomington.
Apart from her professional life, Allie enjoys spending time with her family, friends, significant other, and her dog. Her hobbies include hiking, photography, writing, and traveling. Her favorite place in the world is the cabin.
Allie began riding horses around the age of seven where she took English lessons. She then transitioned to Western lessons. She also attended Girl Scout Camp during the summers to take part in their horse programs. In 2016, she became a horseback riding specialist for the Girl Scouts and has continued to help grow their riding programs since. She trains the program horses to fit camp needs, is a trail guide lead, and teaches everything from horse anatomy, health, equipment, grooming, safety, to ground and riding lessons. Working with people and horses is a great passion of Allie’s. She is excited to have joined St. Croix Trail Blazers in 2020 as a volunteer and now as an instructor.
Meet Our Board
Karen Harjes is one of the original founders of the St. Croix Trail Blazers and the volunteer Executive Director and President. She’ll admit to being a complete “city girl” until stepping out of her comfort zone to assist with the development of the team and taking riding lessons for a year. When not at her full-time job or tending to St. Croix Trail Blazers' business, Karen loves visiting her family in northern Minnesota, being with her pets, gardening, crafting, being a part of Special Olympics Minnesota, and doing jigsaw puzzles. Her son is also a rider with the St. Croix Trail Blazers. With the help of several staff, Karen keeps the team organized and running.
Karen Malmskog is our Vice President. She previously volunteered with We Can Ride and Stable Pathways. Karen loves spending time at the barn with the horses, riders and families, volunteers, and staff. It also allows her to share a special interest with her daughter.
Treasurer position is currently vacant.
Johanna Martinson is our Secretary and also a weekly volunteer. She enjoys being involved with St. Croix Trail Blazers because it gives a person a chance to work with the horses, meet incredible riders, and learn more about the many benefits riding lessons can offer. When not at the barn, Johanna is likely hiking, kayaking, Netflixing, playing cards, or brewing homemade kombucha tea with fun combinations of fresh fruits. Her previous roles include working in the mental health field for over a decade, providing foster care for children in need, and coaching volleyball for student athletes. More recently, she is a free-lance nanny for families in her neighborhood. She lives in St. Paul with her husband, little dog, and tom cat.
Kellie Grayden is our Program Director and a Board Advisor. She has over 20 years of equine experience and grew up riding and showing American Saddlebreds at the state, national, and world levels. Kellie spent her summers and free time up until college as a groom working with horses as much as she possibly could. She is also a professional with the United States Equestrian Federation. Kellie is a therapeutic riding instructor certified through PATH International.