On Friday evening campus began to fill with graduate naturalist alumni, former interns, past staff and their families. They filled every room in the MAC Lodge and the field behind Summit lodge with tents, there were even campers plugged into the bus lot. The love for Wolf Ridge and each other was overflowing. In the evening Mark Rosen, Program Director ’74-’82 shared slides from Isabella and everyone had the opportunity to enjoy the Raptors program in the evening.
On Saturday, it was a choose your own ELC adventure day. Visitors had a wide variety of options before them in the morning from rock climbing and ropes to Voyageur canoeing and Ojibwa heritage, a group even traveled inland to explore the former ELC site in Isabella. In the afternoon the adventures continued and folks were able to tour the Organic Farm and feast on a variety of fresh picked snacks from zucchini chips to pickles and even homemade peanut butter on fresh celery. The day culminated with music from Finland resident and nationally known guitarist Gordon Thorne.
On Sunday, we gathered to formally celebrate 50 years of environmental learning. John and BJ Kohlstedt, retired Wolf Ridge Staff led us through a lesson plan on ELC through the years complete with ice breakers, spiral learning, reflection, leading to the keyword community. A fitting topic not only for Sunday, but for the entire weekend. The Wolf Ridge community is made up of many wonderful people, and we were fortunate to be able to gather with just a few hundred of them this weekend.
The 50th celebration culminated with a tree planting ceremony. Jim Manolis, intern ’87, David Butcher, program naturalist, were joined by naturalist alumni Aki Yada’s daughters to plant a Jack Pine tree in front of the MAC Lodge. Together they represented what was, what is, and what could be for Wolf Ridge. The tree was planted in recognition of 50 years of opening minds, sparking discovery, creating connections, and growing knowledge. It will also mark on the landscape the love of the community who gathered as a community in August 2022 to celebrate this milestone.
While we look ahead to the next 50 years, we hope you’ll be part of our community. The Wolf Ridge campus is open to visitors. If the weekend inspired you to bring a group to campus, that’s an option as well. There are programs available for school groups to adult learners. Thank you for supporting Wolf Ridge.
By Meredith St. Pierre
Meredith is the Development Director, working remotely from the Twin Cities. She enjoys every opportunity to return to Finland for work and reminisce about the 7 summers she was there for a week with Hopkins Summer Field Biology.