Wolf Ridge

Naturalist Training Program

Live, learn & teach in a community of over thirty skilled environmental educators and naturalists. Join the broader community of nearly 1000 alumni scattered across the globe serving as college professors, natural resource professionals, directors of nature centers and camps, school teachers, scientists, state and national park naturalists, writers, adventurers, and artists.

Each week you might teach six classes, participate in workshops/fieldtrips/seminars covering education and natural history, serve as a liaison for a visiting group, go on an adventure with other naturalists, and more. Though the schedule will be filled, if you enjoy a little chaos and love the outdoors, Wolf Ridge might be worth looking into. For more information or to apply, contact Joe Walewski.

There are several naturalist positions. While all include teaching, working with school groups, and graduate coursework in both natural history studies and environmental education, each position also has a unique focus.


Learn how to teach while teaching outdoors. The graduate level Certificate of Environmental Education and Sustainability (managed by both Wolf Ridge and Antioch University New England) serves as the core of our program. You will teach children and adults, track lynx, develop lessons, explore north shore geology, and much more. In addition to gaining 10 months of practical experience, you will earn 12 graduate credits that can be applied to Master’s programs across the nation. The entire program is designed to serve those interested in pursuing a Masters with Antioch University New England (at a reduced cost of $625 per credit). For more information or to apply, contact Joe Walewski.


The way the program works

Everything you do here is connected to a credit. Whether you’re teaching, attending a seminar, or walking through the woods looking at plants, you’re receiving credit. The entire program is interdisciplinary and will put you in direct contact with professionals in education, wildlife management, storytelling, business administration, storytelling, organic farming, live animal care, and more.


That means you’ll play many roles here…


After the initial two weeks of staff training, you begin teaching. An average week consists of six half-day classes from Monday through Friday, plus an average of one weekend a month. The classes cover topics in cultural history, natural history and adventure education. Your students will typically range from 4th grade to 12th grade.


Evaluations of your teaching, observing natural phenomenon, discussions with peers, creating lesson plans, attending seminars, adventuring in the woods … all of these things will help you learn about the field of environmental education and how to be effective as an educator. As a student you take courses all year, yet those courses could be bird banding, plant identification hikes, tapping maple trees, reading environmental literature, and more. You will be surrounded by learning opportunities and directed towards many. It is also up to you to take advantage of those that inspire and challenge you.


Every day you’ll be outdoors teaching about trees, beavers, aquatic critters, mammals, etc. You won’t be able to help yourself from learning the natural history of the area. You’ll also attend seminars on specific subjects such as: botany, aquatics, tracking, weather, birds, astronomy, geology, cultural history, amphibians, etc. Our intention is to wave goodbye to a confident naturalist at the end of the year. These seminars/workshops/fieldtrips speed you on your way.

Community member

We are a small community of 60 staff. We lean on each other often. We are responsible to and for each other. Part of the program is experiencing the challenges and highlights of being in a community. The personal growth can be tremendous. We will be constructing new Naturalist Housing beginning this spring 2016. Designed to Living Building Challenge standards – a building certification program, advocacy tool, and philosophy that defines the most advanced measure of sustainability in the built environment possible today – the building will provide you with total-immersion learning on the topic of sustainability in community.


Who will be your teachers?

  • Seasoned naturalists
  • Antioch University New England professors
  • The school children that attend Wolf Ridge
  • The natural world
  • You


Nut and Bolts

Wolf Ridge is dedicated not only to teaching school children; we are also committed to teaching teachers. Through an intense experiential graduate program we train “student naturalists” to be effective environmental educators. For nine months these student naturalists live and learn environmental education. It’s tough, but participants emerge from the experience with the skills needed to excel as a naturalist and to be effective as an educator.

For more information or to apply, contact Joe Walewski.



Late August to early June. Graduates may have the opportunity for paid work in the summer.



You will receive a private dormitory room, meals when schools are in residence, all necessary materials for teaching and learning, and scholarships from Wolf Ridge and Antioch University New England. Your total out-of-pocket cost for the program will be $1200.


Cooperating institution

Antioch University New England



You will receive a Certificate of Environmental Education and Sustainability with 12 graduate credits that can be applied towards a Masters program at Antioch University New England or any other program in the nation.



  • ESC 550  Community Ecology (3 credits)
  • ESE 502  Foundations of EE (3 credits)
  • ESE 514  Program Planning and Design (3 credits)
  • ES 696  Internship and Seminar (3 credits)
  • [for 2017] ESC 544 Leadership for Change (3 credits)

wildlife naturalist

Spend time each week focusing on the care and management of Wolf Ridge’s education animals.

  • Participate as a member of our Graduate Naturalist Training program.
  • Teach wildlife and other classes to K-12 school children and other groups.
  • Please contact Erin Manning, our Animal Care Coordinator, for more details.

student teaching naturalist

Practice teaching in and out of the classroom. Wolf Ridge is committed to bridging the gap between formal and non-formal education. Undergraduate education students can gain experience by both teaching at Wolf Ridge and also completing a teaching practicum to earn their teaching license. The experience outside of student teaching is as described in the “NATURALIST” tab above. For more information or to apply, contact Joe Walewski.


Our partnerships thus far include

  • Gustavus Adolphus
  • University of Minnesota – Duluth
  • Winona State University
  • Your school – we are willing to work with new schools to expand our partnerships


mentor naturalist

If one year at Wolf Ridge as a naturalist just isn’t enough for you, you might consider applying to be an Mentor Naturalist. This program is designed for naturalists who have already completed a year as a naturalist, wildlife naturalist, or student teaching naturalist at Wolf Ridge. Each year 4 naturalists are selected to stay on for a second year. Spend this year mentoring 16 new naturalists as they teaching and exploring on the North Shore.


Develop leadership skills for education

Past participants in other Wolf Ridge training programs can spend a second year working alongside our program staff on authentic tasks within the field of environmental education. They design apprenticeships focusing on supervision and training, program development, animal handling, fundraising, curriculum maintenance, marketing, and more.

“I leave Wolf Ridge with the realization that one is never finished learning and developing and with a new eagerness to learn, to develop myself, and to explore.”

–Nienke Beintema, Former Graduate Student Naturalist