Wolf Ridge

Fabulous Fall Geek-Out

  • 1 of 9

    Discover the hidden migration of Saw-whet owls.

  • 2 of 9

    Get some great shots and an alternate perspective photographing wildlife & nature with the pros.

  • 3 of 9

    Find beautiful agates and learn to finish them from the professionals.

  • 4 of 9

    Store and cook the fall harvest with our farmer and a chef.

  • 5 of 9

    Follow majestic soaring birds riding along Lake Superior's detour.

  • 6 of 9

    Explore wetlands for wildlife.

  • 7 of 9

    Discover often-overlooked stories.

  • 8 of 9

    Explore the hidden wonders of fall foliage.

  • 9 of 9

    Find your inner zen with an outdoor yoga weekend

September 28 – 30, 2018

Spend a glorious fall weekend in the company of fellow nature geeks! Expect a weekend of laughter, learning, and beauty with one of our hand-chosen instructors. Each has a passion for their topic, and loves to share what they know with like-minded, curious folks.  Wolf Ridge is spectacular in the fall, and the company will be fantastic. Give your inner nerd a little love!


Already know which session you want?

Agate Hunting & Finishing

The Lake Superior Agate–Beautiful, Elusive, Enigmatic

Back by popular demand! Hands-on, activity-oriented introduction to Lake Superior regional geology with focus on volcanism and prominent agate formation theories, Lake Superior Agate hunting, and lapidary tools & processes. Workshop participants will receive fundamental & focused instruction on how to find Lake Superior Agates in various hunting locales, and then participate in guided hunting activities in one or more of these locales. Agates found by the participants and/or provided by instructor will then be used to perform various lapidary operations (cut, shape, polish, set to jewelry), after again receiving fundamental & focused instruction on use of machines & relevant lapidary processes.

Low to medium physical exertion. Ability to hike over a 1 mile trail, along with moving on slanted gravel piles.

Instructor Jim Magnuson

Rock-hounding is more than a hobby for author Jim Magnuson—it’s a serious and rewarding avocation that helps him connect with nature. He has been an avid hunter and student of various gems, minerals and fossils since his childhood, when he first began to hunt for stones in his native state of Illinois. In addition, Jim enjoys sharing his passion not only through showing and gifting some of his finds, but also through writing, another lifelong interest. Throughout Jim’s career as an Information Technology professional, he has developed his technical writing skills while creating new processes that reduce complexity and improve efficiency. These same skills proved to be invaluable when he wrote a guidebook for beginning agate hunters, a project that gave him the confidence to develop a guide to lapidary processes that can be readily used by beginner-to-intermediate hobbyists. Jim is also a member of the Minnesota Mineral Club, and enjoys attending other rock and mineral clubs as a way to further his learning and branch out into other types of agates, gemstones and geology.

To date Jim has authored the following publications: The Storied Agate, The Fairburn Agate of the Black Hills, Agate Hunting Made Easy, Lake Superior Agates – Identify Agates & Imposters (Laminated Field Guide), Emma’s First Agate, Gemstone Tumbling, Cutting, Drilling, & Cabochon Making.



$375 (Includes meals, lodging, instruction and supplies.)

All About Raptors

Experience the migration and raptors up close

Fall is prime time on the shores of Lake Superior for seeing birds of prey soaring high above on their way south for the winter. We have a unique combination of Lake Superior and ridgelines that provide the perfect venue to witness this amazing migration. We will be hiking to beautiful overlooks of the Lake Superior shoreline, which this time of year will have breathtaking views of the fall color. We will spend time learning about what makes these birds unique, why this is a prime viewing location and how to identify them in flight. We will also be talking about using raptors in education while getting up close interaction with Wolf Ridge’s program raptors, and what you can do to help if you find raptors that are injured. This will be a flexible weekend depending on the conditions for migration and the interests of those attending. But it will be all about the incredible bird of prey!

Hiking is moderately difficult with distances up to 3 miles and steep terrain.


Instructors Erin Waldorf and Gail Buhl

Gail Buhl is the Education Program Manager at The Raptor Center at the University of Minnesota. Her career training birds for environmental education spans almost three decades. Gail has worked for Carpenter St. Croix Valley Nature Center, The Minnesota Zoo World of Bird’s Show, and Wolf Ridge Environmental Learning Center. Birds, especially raptors have been her passion for all of those decades. She believes fervently in this quote by Baba Dioum: “In the end we will conserve only what we love; we will love only what we understand; and we will understand only what we have been taught.”

Erin Waldorf is the Group and Wildlife Director at Wolf Ridge. She studied biology and environmental studies at Gustavus Adolphus College and did graduate work here at Wolf Ridge and through the University of Minnesota-Duluth. Along the way she had many amazing enthusiastic professors and mentors that passed on a love of raptors. But Erin’s work with raptor ambassadors that are permanently injured brought her passion to a deep level of respect by needing to learn as much as she could about these animals to give them the best life possible. Working with them day in and day out for the past 12 years is a privilege and Erin is always excited to share that feeling with others.



$325 (Includes meals, lodging, and instruction.)

Farmer and Cook: Storing and Cooking the Fall Harvest

Storing and Cooking the Fall Harvest

Hands-on, activity-oriented workshop exploring the farm and the kitchen with two experts in the field. Along with learning about the social justice and scientific approaches to growing food, you will have the opportunity to learn from an experienced farm/garden-to-table chef. Along with games, activities and cooking instructions, participants will learn about harvesting and processing vegetables, make a gourmet pizza, prepare various vegetable based dishes and quick breads and understand a little bit more about food safety. Come laugh, play and share with others in this Farm, Feast and Fire weekend. Your classroom is the beautiful Wolf Ridge Organic Farm.

Lower physical exertion. Standing and kneeling required.

Instructors Christopher O’Brien & David Abazs

Christopher O’Brien has been the food service director at Wolf Ridge since the winter of 2017. For Chris, cooking is about quality. It’s about passion. It’s about good food done well. He offers a unique perspective and approach to food and the culture of Wolf Ridge’s dining services. To him, eating is an agricultural act. He has re-focused menus in the dining hall on from-scratch, nutritious, and healthy cooking while working towards exclusively sourcing regional and organic foods. We are what we eat after all. Christopher’s culinary experience is well rounded and grounded in working at numerous resorts throughout the United States — from back-country to fine dining and everything in between. When not in the kitchen of Wolf Ridge Christopher is a husband, father, organic urban gardener, aspiring perma-culturalist and social/environmental justice activist.

David Abazs‘ Round River Farm is a neighbor to Wolf Ridge and has grown from it’s inception in 1988 to a CSA providing shares to North Shore families plus the local weekly farmers market in Finland. With the help of countless folks, David led the design process and now manages the new Wolf Ridge Organic Farm. The farm is designed and under development to provide all of the vegetables for the over 140,000 meals served at the cafeteria each year. In David’s spare time, he engages in local food system research, helped create regional farming curriculum, and builds other aquaponic and farming operations in our region. Curling, hiking, township supervising, singing, canoeing and eating ice cream fill the cracks of his life.



$325 (Includes meals, lodging, instruction and supplies.)

Ferns and Lichens of the North Woods

Ferns and Lichens of the North Woods

Join us to discover and enjoy the magic of Ferns and Lichens of the North Woods. We’ll practice using resources that will transform you from a nerdy novice to a nerdy naturalist. Friends and family will soon believe that you see and know about everything in the forest. A walk in the park will never be the same again!

Lower medium demand on physical exertion. Ability to hike over a 1 mile on trail, along with standing and sitting required.


Instructor Joe Walewski

Joe is the Director of Naturalist Training at Wolf Ridge. He earned a B.S. in Fisheries and Wildlife Biology from Iowa State University and a M.Ed. in Environmental Education from the University of Minnesota Duluth. He is the author of Lichens of the North Woods and Ferns and Allies of the North Woods.



$325 (Includes meals, lodging, and instruction.)

Fall Aquatics

Fall Aquatics

Explore the aquatic world through the animals that live underwater. Spend a weekend hunting for some of the fish, insects, and other invertebrates that depend on the high water quality of the North Woods. We’ll use a variety of methods like dip-netting, traps, and even fishing poles to discover who is living where. Which are longtime residents and which critters are exotic? If we trap enough crayfish, we will have a crayfish boil. You just never know what you’ll turn up!

Medium demand on physical exertion. Ability to hike over a mile on irregular terrain. Some canoeing. Minnesota Fishing License required.


Instructor Kurt Mead

Kurt Mead is the head naturalist at Tettegouche State Park on Minnesota’s north shore. He has also worked in a pea canning factory, as a garbage man, an animal control officer, an urban wildlife trapper, an aquaculturalist, a security guard, an acid rain monitor, a waiter, a delivery driver, an elected township supervisor, DNR Fisheries creel surveyor, a log home builder and carpenter in Sweden, and the founder and coordinator for the Minnesota Odonata Survey Project. He has a B.S. in biology and a BFA in art, both from the University of Minnesota Duluth. Kurt regularly gives talks and workshops on dragonfly identification and ecology.



$325 (Includes meals, lodging, and instruction.)


Kayak and Stand Up Paddleboard Introduction

Exploring Still Waters

Learn how to balance and maneuver a sea kayak. The location to learn these skills will be the incredibly beautiful and slow moving west branch of the Baptism River and other smooth bodies of water in the Finland area. Learn from professional instructors while exploring areas of great color change and places where a moose, loon or wolf could appear around the next corner. We provide wet suits to keep you warm, no matter what the weather or water temperature.

High demand on physical exertion. Over 2 to 3 hrs at a time sitting in a kayak required. Wet suits and life jackets worn at all times when on water.


Instructor David Butcher

David Butcher is the Adventure Programs Coordinator at Wolf Ridge and has been working as a naturalist and wilderness guide for 9 years. His teaching experiences include working in parts of Minnesota and upstate New York, as well as guiding trips in the Boundary Waters, Quetico, and the Apostle Islands. When he’s not working you might find him sea kayaking, stand-up paddle boarding, hiking, cycling, or home-brewing beer.



$325 (Includes meals, lodging, and instruction.)

Outdoor Yoga

Maintaining Spiritual and Physical Health in an Outdoor Setting

Give yourself a Northwoods yoga retreat in which you will be guided through daily yoga practices, walking meditations, journaling, and the study of Yamas and Niyamas in an outdoor setting. The first two limbs of the eight-fold path of yoga sutras—the basic text for classical yoga—are examined to the practice of yoga. Foundational to all yogic thought, they are considered to be the guidelines to the yoga way of living that free individuals to take ownership of their lives, direct them toward the fulfillment they seek, and gain the skills to choose attitude, thought, and action. The first five guidelines are referred to as the yamas—a Sanskrit word that translates to “restraints”—and encompass nonviolence, truthfulness, not stealing, non-excess, and non-possessiveness. The last five are referred to as the niyamas, or observances—purity, contentment, self-discipline, self-study, and surrender.

Medium physical exertion. Ability to hike over a mile on irregular terrain, canoe (instruction provided). No cell phones or computers are encouraged to be turned off during your stay, but not required. A Journal and something to write and or draw with is required. Mats and yoga props will be provided.


Instructor Kim Josephson

The Northshore has always been Kim’s home. Kim was always drawn to the spiritual life of the woods and water of the northland as a child and became interested in yoga in her early teens. Kim owns and runs Yoga2go Studio, is RYT(Registered Yoga Teacher) 500 and a Certified Yoga Therapist through The International SomaYoga Institute Yoga North. Kim currently leads Hatha yoga, Somatics, SomaYoga, In- Depth studies, Chair Yoga, and Yoga in the Park classes.   Kim has developed specialized programs from children to wheelchair to fit the needs of individuals and/or groups. Kim is married and has 2 grown children. She became a grandma January 2017 and is amazed by abundant love and joy.



$325 (Includes meals, lodging, and instruction.)

Saw-whet Owl Banding

The Unseen Migration

Hands-on,  activity-oriented introduction to fall raptor banding focusing on owls migrating down the Lake Superior corridor. The emphasis will be on Northern Saw-whet owls, however, we will spend time talking about other species (i.e. Long-eared, Boreal and Great Grey owls) that use this flyway. Workshop participants will receive fundamental and focused instruction on how to capture, handle, age, and process owls. Time will also be spent talking about other owl monitoring techniques used in the Minnesota.

Lower physical exertion. Standing and kneeling and sitting required.

** NOTE this workshop lasts one day longer than the others, Starting Friday evening and ending Monday after lunch.**

Instructors Dave Grosshuesch and Peter Harris

Dave Grosshuesch’s enthusiasm and knowledge of birds has few equals. He has worked as a passerine and raptor bander and raptor counter for Hawk Ridge Observatory in Duluth Minnesota. He currently works for the United States Forest Service as a wildlife biologist. Dave holds a master bird-banding license and currently runs a MAPS station in the summer months and a owl banding station in the fall. Not only does Dave participate in the collection of bird-banding data, but he also analyses the data and employs it in his job with the Superior National Forest in Tofte, MN.

Peter Harris coordinates research and science projects Wolf Ridge. He supervises the Center’s bird banding programs, and has been banding and providing education around the science of bird banding for over 30 years. Over his career, countless students have been able to get up close and personal with songbirds and raptors. Pete is a graduate of the University of Minnesota in the Twin Cities.



$355 (Includes meals, lodging, and instruction. Note this is a 3 night stay – program ends Monday, October 2 after lunch.)

Trees and Shrubs of the North Woods

Fascinating Stories of Adaptation & Beauty

Hike in the Laurentian Highlands forests of Lake Superior. Explore the science behind this incredible natural resource as brilliant greens dissolve into a spectacular array of yellow, orange and red. How does this miraculous change take place and why do the trees do it in the first place? Learn about the composition and interrelationships that create these remarkable forests, and learn about the chemistry that results in a sea of reds, golds, and yellows.

Medium demand on physical exertion. Ability to hike over a mile on irregular terrain, along with canoeing required.


Instructor John Latimer

John is a retired rural mail carrier who has hosted the Phenology Show on Northern Community Radio for the past 33 years. Using his 100-mile daily route as a base to record the changes of hundreds of plants and animals he has amassed a database of nearly 50,000 individual notes. He has worked with the University of Minnesota and Harvard University to establish phenology protocols and share data. He is one of the founding members of the Minnesota Phenology Network.



$325 (Includes meals, lodging, and instruction.)

Wildlife Photography

An Alternate Perspective on Nature Photography

This will be a intermediate workshop emphasizing wildlife photography and covering general nature photography, including camera traps, landscapes and macro. Field time will revolve around sunrise and sunset, and class time will be reserved for midday when the light is harsh. If participants would rather spend more time in the field, that can be made possible. Your canvas is the beautiful North Shore of Lake Superior.

Medium physical exertion. Ability to hike over a mile on irregular terrain, canoe (instruction provided).

Instructors Ben Olson & Ryan Pennesi

An award-winning, full-time photographer, Ben Olson originally began pursuing the art of photography to capture his experiences in the natural world. As an artist, he uses photography as a means to express passion for wilderness and to convey its importance in our lives.  As a photographer, he spends countless hours in the field chasing elusive wildlife, temperamental weather, and fleeting light. “Immersing myself in nature has become a way of life. The ability to capture these rare moments and to share them with the world fills me with enthusiasm for life and the motivation needed to use my work towards conservation and environmental awareness efforts.” Ben has a B.A. in Biology with an emphasis in Ecology, Ethology and Evolution and a A.A.S. in Digital Imaging Technology. His long term goals are to “incorporate education and photography to promote awareness of the perils the natural world faces today while working towards conservation and environmental restoration.” See Ben’s work here.

Ryan Pennesi is a nature photographer interested in conservation and adaptive natural resource management. His childhood was spent roaming the white pine forests of central Massachusetts and searching endlessly for amphibians. Adventures, investigation and discovery in the outdoors led to a pursuit for a career closely tied to the natural world. He has worked as a professional naturalist, animal handler at an exotic zoo, wildlife technician, and trail crew leader. Working closely with wildlife in informed ways is paramount to his disciplines. Says Ryan, “As I have developed my skills as a photographer and teacher, sharing the experience with others has been increasingly rewarding. I am fascinated by the role of images in storytelling and environmental education. I am always looking for new ways to study and learn from nature.” See Ryan’s work here.



$325 (Includes meals, lodging, and instruction.)

Wolf Ridge Sampler

Hands on learning with a smile

Experience the excitement of traveling back to the time of the Voyageur and paddle a Montreal canoe. Climb a rock wall. Hike to an overlook on the Superior Hiking Trail. View the beautiful fall colors. Seek out north woods wildlife and plant communities. Enthusiastic Wolf Ridge naturalists will guide your adventures as you experience for yourself why Wolf Ridge Environmental Learning Center is so memorable to the adults and children who attend with their school or through one of our summer camps.

Medium demand on physical exertion. Ability to hike over a mile on irregular terrain, along with canoeing required.



$325 (Includes meals, lodging, and instruction.)


Meals: Fuel for your imagination.

We take great pride in our daily meals.  Whether families are coming in from a day spent outside, or getting ready for the day, everyone will find choices to satisfy their appetites in the Lake Superior Dining Room.

Chris O’Brien, our food service director, believes “we should all be fed well, every meal, every day.” From-scratch vegan, vegetarian and meat dishes are available at each and every meal. Vegan dishes are inherently free of any animal product, including dairy, and are most often gluten free as well. All dietary requests are addressed and often the menu is adjusted to reflect the needs and wants of our clients. Those with common food allergy and sensitivities, including to dairy or peanuts, will find good, healthy food that addresses their needs. Fresh fruit, veggies, and homemade breads are available all day, in addition to coffee and tea.

Chris and his staff go above and beyond to meet our guests needs and work hard to produce a choice driven, healthy, hearty meal while creating a sense of community here at Wolf Ridge. Most of our produce is from the Wolf Ridge Organic Farm and our meats and other products are sourced as locally as possible. It’s about quality. It’s about passion. It’s about good food done well.

Learn more about our dining hall and see sample menus.


Lodging: A place to kick back and relax.

Participants will be housed in East Dorm. Two to three people will share a room. Bathrooms and showers are inside the rooms. A common ‘great room’ features plenty of room for games and windows overlook the beauty of the northwoods forests. Learn more about the East Dorm.


Sign up!

Once you have decided on a session, sign up via our online registration site. If you have questions or prefer to sign up by phone, call 218-353-7414 M-F during business hours.