Wolf Ridge Wolf Ridge

Our Story

Who We Are

Founded in 1971, Wolf Ridge Environmental Learning Center was the first environmental learning center in the nation to be accredited as a K-12 school and is recognized nationally and internationally as a leader in environmental education.

During the school year, more than 13,000 children, teachers, and parent chaperones head to our campus to have their own adventure in learning. Our students come from all over, from more than 175 schools in communities across Minnesota, North Dakota, and Wisconsin because of our unique location – located south of the Boundary Waters and overlooking the North Shore of Minnesota’s Lake Superior.

Our broad spectrum of year-round environmental and outdoor learning programs for children, families, seniors, and college students serve an additional 3,000 people each year, including our Summer Camps and Family Programs.

What We’re About

Our mission:

“To develop a citizenry that has the knowledge, skills, motivation, and commitment to work together for a quality environment.”

We do this by:

  • Fostering awareness, curiosity, and sensitivity to the natural world
  • Providing lifelong learning experiences in nature
  • Developing social understanding, respect, and cooperation
  • Modeling values, behaviors and technologies which lead to a sustainable lifestyle
  • Promoting the concepts of conservation and stewardship

What We Do

Wolf Ridge is a place where minds open to the joy and wonder of discovery of our natural world. We seek to stimulate a love and understanding of nature by involving children and adults in direct observation of and participation in the outdoors. We promote self-awareness and leadership development in the process.

Activities and classes at Wolf Ridge are nearly all outdoors, typically three hours in length. Over fifty different classes and activities are available. Class subjects include environmental science, cultural history, contemporary environmental issues, personal growth, team building, and outdoor recreation.

Where We’re Located

In environmental education, the outdoors is the classroom – and ours is spectacular. Located on a ridge overlooking Lake Superior, Wolf Ridge’s 2,000-acre campus is bordered by the Baptism River and features creeks, two lakes, two high peaks, 18-miles of trail, and a mixed forest of maple, birch, and spruce. Wildlife is abundant and includes pine marten, eagles, moose, black bear, white-tailed deer, fox, wolves, beaver, peregrine falcons, and loons. Facilities include four classroom buildings, two dormitories, a dining hall, a raptor aviary, a library, two auditoriums, two rock-climbing walls, two outdoor ropes courses, and an administration building.

How We Operate

Wolf Ridge has a 16-member board of trustees, whose members include classroom teachers, university professors, corporate executives, non-profit leaders, lawyers, and architects. We employ 35 full-time staff, 20 teaching naturalists, 20 seasonal camp counselors, and 7 part-time staff. Volunteers help with projects varying from bird banding to office work.  Over the course of a year, we employ a staff of about 100.  We are the largest rural employer in Lake County.

We are a private, non-profit 501(c)(3) organization. Revenue sources include about 88% from program user fees, 5% from store sales, and 7% grants and donations. Because program fees do not completely achieve the income needed for operation, Wolf Ridge relies on a financial donor program as well as annual donations from businesses, corporations, and foundations to provide high-quality environmental education. Our annual budget is approximately $2.8 million dollars.