Lauren Riensche is an author and host of the Cedar Falls Ghost Tour, a seasonal walking tour that covers the history and hauntings of the area. “I spent the better part of a year researching local history and interviewing community members to collect the stories shared on the tour, and I’m still learning more all the time. Building this tour has been a phenomenal way to get to know my downtown neighbors and folks with similar interests, and I look forward to hosting it every year!” Learn about Lauren Riensche…
Follow at: @cfghosttour
Hometown: I grew up in Jesup, Iowa. Then, I lived a variety of places for about a decade, including Chicago, St. Louis, San Francisco, New York City, Milwaukee, Atlanta, Boston and Vienna. And then in 2020, the pandemic brought me back to Iowa, and I moved to Cedar Falls.
First job: My first job was on my family farm! My family has a six-generation corn and soybean farm near Jesup, and my siblings and I all helped out on the farm from a young age.
Favorite ways to spend your free time in IA: My favorite way to spend my free time in Iowa is experiencing the variety of fun activities our state has to offer with my family and friends! Whether it’s trying a new restaurant on Main Street with my pals, walking miles of trails with my dog and a good audiobook, or hopping in the plane with my husband to crop scout, I think Iowa offers a peace and pace of life that is inherently pleasant.
Your biggest accomplishment and why: I believe my biggest accomplishment is building a life I love! I have a joyful relationship with my husband, a sweet dog I love dearly, friends near and far who embody “come as your are,” a cozy home in a friendly neighborhood, a career that challenges and invigorates me, and hobbies that have brought me closer to my community. I am proud of the work and learnings I have built upon over the years that brought me to this place in my life.
The biggest obstacle you overcame: The biggest obstacle I’ve overcome has been learning how to understand and embrace the priorities that best fit me. Would I rather worry about whether I’m doing something perfectly, or make mistakes and progress? Would I rather let criticisms resonate the loudest, or encouragements? Would I rather spend time meeting existing standards, or carving out my own? For me, I prioritize the latter. And by embracing this exercise, it not only benefits me but also those around me—this approach allows me to put my skills and passions to their best use in my community. Embodying prioritization has helped me build the life I love.
Someone who inspires you and why: My former manager, Ruthie, is an inspiration to me. She is a single mom of three daughters who has survived great emotional hardship while maintaining a relentless ambition and drive, a tenacity when it comes to standing up for herself and others, and a kind and trusting demeanor that makes her a great leader and friend. She has helped me see my own priorities more clearly.
Advice to someone pursuing a career path in what you do: Oh, this is such a good question! In my day job, I work in agriculture sustainability technology. And of course, for my favorite hobby, I host the Cedar Falls Ghost Tour. But I think my advice for both would be the same — if it doesn’t exist, build it. Whether it’s a job, a hobby, good peers or great friends, they’re out there. But, they’re not easy to find, so don’t wait to find them—make them! Consider negotiating that job description or maybe even create your own. Hobbies and volunteerism can help you find friends. Try your hardest to be consistent, open-minded and optimistic, and I believe you’ll find that like attracts like.
Favorite quote: My favorite quote is from the TV show “Mad Men.” The main character, Don, is being berated by a colleague who ends his diatribe with, “I feel sorry for you,” to which Don replies, “I don’t think about you at all.” Nothing ends a critical train of thought so fast as recalling this line!
Something someone would be surprised to learn about you: I have a diverse range of hobbies and interests—which probably makes me not a half-bad pub trivia teammate! To name a few, I love local history, lofi music, sand volleyball, video and board games, horror podcasts, gothic literature, learning German, domestic and international travel, ag tech, rural sociology and, of course, supernatural stories and legends!
What makes someone fabulous: Having and sharing a passion for something makes someone fabulous! I really think that leaning into something that interests you makes your days a little brighter and your relationships a little deeper. And, it’s even more fabulous when you climb wherever that ladder takes you and then reach down to help the next person.