Lori Anderson grew up on a dairy farm. Her mom was a nurse, and so when she went off to college she thought her future would be in nursing, too.
Then came the cat dissection.
“I did not get in to the nursing program,” Anderson said.
So, she started contemplating what was next. Anderson said she went roller skating and was talking with an upperclassmen at Mankato State where Anderson was studying and was introduced to the world of corrections.
Anderson was encouraged to take some classes in that area, and she ultimately graduated with a degree in corrections and law enforcement.
Anderson knew she did not want to be a police officer. So she pursued the area of probation and through some connections was able to get her start working in Kandiyohi County where she grew up.
Anderson started that role in 1985 with the Department of Corrections, adding she quickly learned the importance of making good decisions and living with the consequences of the bad ones as she interacted with the clients she encountered.
For Anderson, regardless of who walked into her office over the years one of the most important things she offered was respect.
Anderson worked in Kandiyohi County until 1991.
In 1988 she got married and was making the commute from her family’s farm near Franklin to Willmar.
Hoping to change that, Anderson said the stars aligned and she was hired to fill the same role in Redwood County. Anderson said her first day on the job in Redwood County was Oct. 31, 1991 – the Halloween blizzard.
Over the years, Anderson has worked with adults and juveniles on misdemeanor and gross misdemeanor cases, adding that could include everything from a DWI to an assault.
Anderson said she feels blessed to have been able to work in the same field for 34 years. For her, the reason she was able to continue for so long was that she focused on building relationships and working collaboratively with people.
“I have loved my job,” she said.
Whether it was her fellow probation officers, law enforcement or the judge, Anderson said she always felt it was important to have a level of trust with them. Anderson said she has told now retired Judge David Peterson that the two of them could write a book about the sad and funny things people have said over the years.
“I have seen all types of people from all walks of life,” said Anderson, adding there are success stories as well as the tales of those people who lost the battle.
Yes, said Anderson, she does believe she has had the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of people, adding there are some who have continued to contact her even after their probation ends.
Being a probation officer is a stressful job, said Anderson, adding she thinks now is a good time for her to step down. She is officially retiring Aug. 6.
Anderson said a probation officer can’t change someone, but they have the chance to help guide them in the right direction.
Anderson added she will miss the people she has worked with over the years, but now is the time to open up the next chapter of her life. Right now, she is not sure what that will be.
A retirement celebration for Anderson is being held Aug. 2 from 2-4:30 p.m. in the basement meeting room of the Redwood County courthouse in Redwood Falls.