In the midst of the bustling city, Prairiewoods gives visitors and employees a peaceful, refreshing reprieve from the stresses of everyday life.

Prairiewoods, a ministry of the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration, provides programs on ecology, spirituality and holistic health. Along with a retreat conference center, it features 30 acres of prairie and 40 acres of woodlands.

The employee structure is based on a committee system instead of hierarchy leadership, according to Andi Lewis, marketing coordinator.

“Relationships are fostered so we can know what each person on staff is meant to do,” Ms. Lewis said.

The atmosphere and mission of Prairiewoods positively affects the employees as well as visitors.

“The founding mission of Prairiewoods calls each and every staff member and guest to more deeply live out care for Earth and for all of creation,” an employee stated in the nomination form. “The mission invites people to full participation in the evolving consciousness by reverencing relationships, celebrating the unity of diversity, engaging contemplation and fostering partnerships to transform individuals and the world.”

The area itself has a soothing effect on employees.

“FITogether initiatives for the mind, body and spirit, on-going staff development, garden fresh lunches served over 60 percent of the time, working in a LEED certified building, the beauty and walking trails on the 70 acres of restored prairie and woods, T’ai Chi Chih and yoga for staff weekly, living our mission to provide a sacred place for all faiths and cultures to nurture and deepen relationships with others in community,” an employee stated as reasons Prairiewoods is a cool place to work.

A third of the 20-person staff are Franciscan sisters, Ms. Lewis said, and the rest of the staff are lay people from different backgrounds.

“All staff and volunteers are valued. We eat lunch together regularly and share ‘Did You Know’ positive gossip about programs and our personal lives. We are invited to be mature adults in the way we manage our time and relationships,” an employee stated in the nomination form.

Angela Holmes