Meet the Team

New Prairie Construction Company is a general contractor team of passionate, highly trained, and experienced builders, carpenters, and office staff. As an employee-owned cooperative, we work efficiently and effectively to ensure a positive experience for our customers.

Jennifer Hansen, Co-Owner, Project Estimator for New Prairie Construction in Urbana Champaign

Jennifer Hansen

Co-Owner, President, Project Estimator

Jennifer’s love for building began early in life, when she realized she would rather construct miniature sets for her toys than role play with them. While earning her BFA in painting from the University of Illinois, she found herself gravitating towards 3-D installation art and subsequently fell in love with how materials, high quality craftsmanship and intention can powerfully transform a space. When given the opportunity to learn carpentry in a women-owned construction company, Jennifer saw a unique chance to apply her education in a very tangible way, while learning an exciting and new set of skills.

Although primarily working as a Project Estimator now, she still enjoys designing spaces, helping friends with their construction projects and working on her own never-ending list of home improvements. Whenever possible, she spends time with friends and family, cycling, hiking, gardening, and just enjoying the present moment for what it is.

10 hour OSHA certified

Mark Ritten, Co-Owner, Estimator for New Prairie Construction in Urbana Champaign

Mark Ritten

Co-Owner, Project Estimator, Carpentry Team Lead

Mark has lived in the Champaign-Urbana area most of his life. Mark got his start in the construction field at the ripe old age of 12, when he started helping neighbors with their building projects, be it adding a garage or roofing their house.

He spent two years in the construction program at Parkland College before transferring to Bradley University, where he received a Bachelor’s of Science in Construction. Mark started working for New Prairie in 2007. He likes learning about new products and techniques in the construction industry.

10 hour OSHA certified

Erik Paulson, Co-Owner, Scheduler for New Prairie Construction in Urbana Champaign

Erik Paulson

Co-Owner, Construction Operations Manager, Carpentry Team Lead

Erik holds an Associate’s degree from Parkland College in Construction Design and Management. He began working as a carpenter in 1992, building new homes and remodeling an 1870 Victorian. He also has training and experience in CAD drafting.

Erik began working for New Prairie in 2003. While working at New Prairie, he has broadened his carpentry skills to include straw bale building and timber framing.

Erik owns a small farm, and enjoys cooking, furniture making, and sculpture. He also follows auto sports, with an interest in open wheel racing.

Building Performance Institute Certified Professional10 hour OSHA certified

BPI ID#5068585

Barrie Bredemeir, Co-Owner, Solar Install Team for New Prairie Construction in Urbana Champaign

Barrie Bredemeier

Co-Owner, Carpentry Team Lead

A native of New England, Barrie earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts from New York State College of Ceramics in 1981. In 1983 he came to C-U for his Master of Fine Arts in glass sculpture. He designed, built, and ran the glass department for editions in cast paper for Frank Gallo. During this time, he also started Glass Lake Studio, producing decorative and functional blown glass. For the past twenty years, he was been selling his work through art fairs, galleries, shows, and commissions, offering workshops and lessons, and winning numerous awards.

In March of 2010 he started working for New Prairie. As part of his continuing education, Barrie attended a timber-framing workshop in 2014. He enjoys learning new skills in building greener living spaces, and is very interested in self-sustainable energy resources and lifestyle. He also likes to spend time fishing, hiking, camping, gardening, making bread, and sculpting hand-blown glass.

10 hour OSHA certified

Tony Juarez, Co-Owner, Solar Install Team for New Prairie Construction in Urbana Champaign

Antonio Juarez

Co-Owner, Carpentry Team Lead

A native of Santa Eulalia Huehuetenango, Guatemala, Antonio grew up farming with his family. In 1988 he came to Champaign seeking a better life. He soon obtained work in the trades and has continued to work as a carpenter, doing both framing and finish work. In 2006 Antonio brought his experience and sense of humor to New Prairie.

As the father of four sons, Antonio finds his spare time to be at a premium. He enjoys playing basketball and has recently taken up jogging and bicycling so he can keep up with his youngest son.

10 hour OSHA certified

Brian Barnick, Solar Designer and Project Manager for New Prairie Construction in Urbana Champaign

Brian Barnick

Co-Owner, Solar Division Manager

Brian’s background is deeply rooted in the agriculture industry. While working in the ag field, Brian became interested in renewable energy, beginning with the conversion of a non-invasive, perennial, sustainable grass into biofuel. As time progressed, Brian’s interest grew to include wind and solar, so much so that his interest evolved into a business installing and servicing residential wind turbines and solar arrays. Brian joined our solar team in 2019, and brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to the New Prairie Solar program. In 2021, Brian achieved his PVIP certification from the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP) after successfully completing his course and exam. His focus on industry standards and best practices are invaluable assets.

In his down time, Brian enjoys spending time with his family and in the outdoors.

NABCEP Board Certified PV Installation Professional NABCEP Associate Photovoltaic 10 hour OSHA certified


Kieffer Tucker, Solar Install Team for New Prairie Construction in Urbana Champaign

Kieffer Tucker

Carpentry Team

My name is Kieffer Tucker and I am a carpenter at New Prairie. I worked in the restaurant industry for ten years before making a career change to construction. Following a series of home remodel projects I did for myself I decided to seek out further education at Parkland College. There I was accepted into the HCCTP (highway construction careers training program) where I received a broad variety of training and certifications. After Graduating the HCCTP I did odd jobs for about a year before finding an opportunity to work for New Prairie in 2019. My time with New Prairie is both challenging and rewarding. I am very happy to be a part of a great team as I grow into becoming a better carpenter.

10 hour OSHA certified

Charles Lee

Carpentry Team

Charles Lee has been a carpenter for 20+ years. He has a wide range of experience, including plumbing, welding, masonry and tiling. Charles went to college at the University of Wyoming. He joined the New Prairie team in spring of 2022.

10 hour OSHA certified

Robert Lang

Carpentry Team

Robert was born and raised in Central Illinois. He served a term in the US Army, making the rank of Infantry Sergeant and earning veteran status. He received a BA in Economics from SIU Carbondale, IL and later continued his studies at EIU Charleston, IL. He has excelled in various carpentry fields for over a decade, with an expertise in roofing most recently.

Of his many accomplishments, Rob considers being a great father one of his highest achievements. Rob joined the New Prairie team in the summer of 2022 and is truly enjoying hands-on work.

10 hour OSHA certified

Michael Sarro

Carpentry Team

Michael, a skilled drywaller and painter, follows a passion for creating, and transforming spaces. After spending many years in the food industry, he ventured back to the trades. His time at New Prairie, beginning in the fall of 2022, has given him the opportunity to enhance his carpentry skills. Michael is a problem solver who can tackle complex challenges with ease and his dedication to this craft is evident in the satisfaction of clients, who praise his reliability, and efficiency.

Michael and his wife are proud parents to two young children who keep them on their toes. In his free time, Mike enjoys bowling and competitive bags, both pastimes that allow him to unwind and enjoy good times with family and friends.

10 hour OSHA certified

Travis Maxwell

Carpentry Team

Travis brought a toolbox full of skills to New Prairie. Quick to impress as an apprentice, he has excelled in various carpentry fields, shining in window and door replacements most recently. His colleagues admire his eager learning spirit and his daily positivity. Travis is focused on honing his skills and learning from his peers to become a more well rounded craftsman.

Travis welcomed the world’s newest Pink Floyd fan this year, embarking on the adventure of parenthood. He cherishes every precious moment and newborn milestone with his family.

Nate Beck, Solar Technical Sales and Design

Nate Becks

Solar Technical Sales and Design

Nate grew up in a northern suburb of Cincinnati, Ohio. After graduating from The Ohio State University with a Bachelors of Science in Landscape Architecture, he relocated to Champaign in May of 2020. Nate worked as a landscape designer in Bloomington and Champaign for over a year. He became more interested in the intersection of sustainability and design, leading him to join the New Prairie Solar team in August of 2021. He hopes to learn more about green energy and how it can be applied through design practices.

Nate and his partner have two dogs, a corgi and a husky/lab mix, that occupy most of their free time. They enjoy hiking and visiting different parks in the area. Nate is also passionate about plants and photography.

During his time at New Prairie, Nate has achieved his drone pilot’s license, a NABCEP Associate’s Certificate, and a distinguished NABCEP PV Design Specialist Certificate. He remains dedicated to advancing his knowledge in the renewable energy sector.

NABCEP Associate AV Outdoors Decals, Certified Drone Pilot Sticker, Federal Aviation Administration Vinyl for Cars, Trucks, Laptops, and Coolers (2 x 5 inch) : Automotive10 hour OSHA certified


Enayatullah Azizi, Solar Install Team

Enayatullah Azizi

Solar Installation Team

Born in Afghanistan, Enayatullah graduated from Kabul Polytechnic University in Survey and Road Construction. He came to the United State in January, 2019.

With 12 years of construction experience behind him, Enayatullah joined the New Prairie Solar Team in 2021. He speaks English, Dari and Pashto. He is also OSHA 10 and OSHA 30 certified and is studying to become a certified NABCEP Associate, continuing his education in the renewable energy field.

10 hour OSHA certifiedOSHA 30 Hour Safety Certified

James Krehbiel

Solar Installation Team

James graduated from University of Illinois with a Bachelor of Science degree for Technical Systems Management in 2019. After completing a self installation project with family members his desire to learn more about the trade grew, leading him to New Prairie’s solar team in 2022. While at New Prairie, he continued his education by gaining several certifications quickly, including an OSHA-10 certification, a successful completion of the EPA’s course for Lead-Safety and is now a certified NABCEP Associate. James enjoys the outdoors, operates a successful local kayaking tour and coaches youth sports.

NABCEP Associate Photovoltaic10 hour OSHA certified


Don Carlson

Solar Installation Team

Donnie holds a Bachelor’s degree in Media Arts and has spent the majority of his professional career in the web-design industry. His aspirations to contribute to conservation led him to New Prairie in early 2023. Before his formal education and professional career, Donnie gained experience working in light construction, brick laying and general restoration and he is often in the midst of his own home improvement projects. Donnie was able to continue his studies through New Prairie’s continuing education program and obtain a NABCEP Associates Certification. Don is well-equipped to contribute his knowledge and skills to renewable energy projects, making a positive impact on sustainability efforts.

NABCEP Associate Photovoltaic


Connie Hamilton, Warehouse Administrator for New Prairie Construction in Urbana Champaign

Connie Hamilton

Warehouse Administrator

Connie joined the New Prairie team in 2019 as the warehouse administrator. She assists with the organization and stocking of the warehouse supplies, paperwork and equipment. Her diverse background includes old home renovations, Living History Museum construction and theatre costume creation. She has also been a veterinarian assistant and certified massage therapist. She enjoys a rural lifestyle, living on an 1880 farmstead since 1984. Past and present activities have revolved around travel, kids, cattle, critters, camping, gardening, reading and creative cooking.

10 hour OSHA certified

Michelle Winland, Bookkeeper for New Prairie Construction in Urbana Champaign

Michelle Winland


Michelle is a life-long resident of Central Illinois. She and her husband reside in the same small town where they grew up and met. While working and raising a family, Michelle returned to school and completed a Business Administration Degree from Eastern Illinois University in 2002. She joined the New Prairie staff in 2020.

Michelle and her husband have been avid DIYers. Their last project, a 1969 Fan Trailer restoration, has made camping and fishing their favorite pastime. Michelle also enjoys reading, gardening, birdwatching and hiking.

Ruby Gaylen

Office Manager

Ruby is a Western Colorado native but has spent the majority of her life in Central Illinois. Ruby finds personal fulfillment in cooking, multimedia design and her growing plant collection. She and her family enjoy recreational outdoor sports; river kayaking and downhill skiing are among their favorite activities.

Drawn to their values and commitment to sustainable practices, she joined New Prairie in the fall of 2021. With a variety of experience in administrative work, she is looking forward to helping the team while gaining an invaluable insight into both the construction and renewable energy fields.
10 hour OSHA certified