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Welcome Graduate Naturalists

October 13, 2022

By Danielle Hefferan

Danielle primarily works with Wolf Ridge's Naturalist Training Program where she seeks to support naturalists in their professional development and maintain the integrity of Wolf Ridge's awesome learning experiences! She enjoys playing with her cats and being with great people.

The change from summer to fall brings about many changes here at the ridge: frogs quiet down, birds show off their migration skills, the maples burn orange… but the best change above all else is that we welcome a new crew of graduate students to the Naturalist Training Program. August 29th kicked off our two weeks of fall training that ended with a “matriculation” party officially welcoming these new naturalists to our community.

I have had the privilege of working closely with these folks as they dive right into the beauty (and sometimes chaos) that is welcoming students from all over the midwest to live and learn with us for a week. As graduate students and Naturalists at Wolf Ridge, they are embarking on a 10-month immersive experience to refine their environmental education practice by slowing down, paying attention, and contributing. In just one month I’ve watched confidence grow from nerves, friendships form that will last a lifetime, and dedication ooze out of all corners.

A couple of current graduate students and Naturalists shared their thoughts with me on their experience so far:

“I feel immensely inspired, supported, and grounded by the incredible humans I’m living, working, and growing with (my fellow naturalists and mentor naturalists, our program leaders and teachers, and the Wolf Ridge staff) and the surrounding environment that never ceases to teach and amaze. I’ve found so much joy in the simple things: being outside all day, embracing curiosity, conversations over meals, and the continuous chances to learn – I cannot wait for more!”- Bri

“Being a student at WR thus far has been exhilarating – so much is happening all the time and it’s an exciting (sometimes exhausting, but always inspiring) whirlwind! There is an incredible amount of support and joy and curiosity and friendship within the community, and there have been so many wonderful moments of learning about myself, about others, about the environment, and about the world. It’s been simultaneously the longest and shortest month of my life, and I feel so happy to be here among these people and in this setting.”- Leah

We are so grateful they are here and that we get to keep learning together throughout the year. If you think you may want to be here next year… applications will open soon!