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National Service with NCCC and Wolf Ridge

May 6, 2021

By Wolf Ridge Naturalist

Hello! My name is Brandon Abbott and I’m an Americorps Member serving in Wolf Ridge. I come from Southern Oregon and at a young age, my family took us out camping near Crater Lake in the Pacific Northwest many times. Since high school, I always wanted to visit other parts of the country and volunteer. In 2021 I was able to do just that with Americorps, starting with Wolf Ridge.

Enjoying one of David’s team-building exercises.

Americorps National Civilian Community Corps (NCCC) is a federal program that strengthens communities through direct team-based national service. Basically, it brings people from around the country to go out on projects that help other communities. Wolf Ridge applied to be a sponsor for the North Central region. In exchange for providing a team’s lodging, the team would work on various tasks on the farm and improve Wolf Ridge’s facilities.

That team is Maple 8! We come from all kinds of states: Pennsylvania, Nevada, New Jersey, Wisconsin, and Connecticut! We’re an eclectic bunch of young adults, but we’re united in our desire to do good work. We became a team in March, went through training together in Vinton, Iowa, and then took the drive north, taking in the scenic views of Lake Superior and the beauty the North Shore offers.

Sasha, Kierra, Brendan (above), Jason (below), David, and myself

From the start of our stay in Wolf Ridge, it was easy to tell that they wanted us to learn. Sarah, Danielle, and David started our first days with orientation. They set the tone for our stay by welcoming us, telling us what’s cool about what we’re doing, and answering every odd question we had. One of Americorps’ goals is to learn while doing service. Wolf Ridge made service learning not only easy but a natural part of the workday. I’ll never forget the first time Sarah pointed out the sound of a grouse mating call. David taught us about the Ojibwe culture and the significance of Lake Superior. By the end of our time, we learned about freshwater, microgreens, the germination process, cordwood housing, and the toughness of tamarack logs.

Brendan, David, and Sasha set up a high tunnel

More than just learning, Maple 8 provided physical work to Wolf Ridge’s benefit. Our first day of work was erecting the plastic sheet roof of the high tunnel at the Wolf Ridge farm named Blood. For the Assisted Forest Migration Project, we put over 9 thousand tree seeds and acorns into germination tubes, whose trees will help protect Minnesota’s forests from the warming climate. On Fridays, we chopped down trees and cleared trails. We also worked with Bob to clear out the underbrush in and around Wolf Ridge. We’re most proud of restoring 604 feet of the deer fence that protects the farm. Lifting and rebuilding its segments brought out the best of us. The difficulty increased when we had to build the latter half from scratch but we found our pacing.

Other accomplishments Maple 8 made on site:

  • Chopped and prepared 2 cords of wood for a cordwood project
  • Carried 11 thousand pounds of lumber for a future viewing deck of Lake Superior
  • Renovated a walkway for the farm building
  • Microgreens production, including 7 pounds of harvest

Kierra placing Red Oak seedlings in Blood

Working here at Wolf Ridge has made me thankful for both it and Americorps NCCC. I have never explored the country before, and they have given me the opportunity to live and work around the country, starting here in Finland, Minnesota. A project like this makes me very optimistic for the year ahead, and our team will never forget the great times we’ve had working with the people here. Above all, Wolf Ridge taught us about the beauty of America’s wilderness and how important it is to preserve it. I hope you come to enjoy Wolf Ridge as much as we did.

Our last day with Sarah at the Wolf Ridge farm