Wolf Ridge

Fabulous Fall Geek-Out

September 29 – October 1, 2017

  • 1 of 5

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

  • 2 of 5

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

  • 3 of 5

    Discover the hidden migration of Saw-whet owls.

  • 4 of 5

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

  • 5 of 5

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

Give your inner nerd a little love!

Spend a glorious fall weekend in the company of fellow nature geeks! Sign up soon for one of the workshops listed below. We’ve chosen instructors who have a passion for their subjects, and love to share what they know with like-minded, curious folks. Expect a weekend of laughter, learning, and beauty. Wolf Ridge is spectacular in the fall, and the company will be fantastic!

Here’s what we have planned so far for the week-end. Additional workshops will be added as we approach fall.

Agate Hunting & Finishing

The Lake Superior Agate–Beautiful, Elusive, Enigmatic

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. Hiking over a 1 mile trail, along with moving on slanted gravel piles.

Workshop sessions

  • Introductions, Lake Superior Geology, Agate Hunting Basics, and the Beauty of Agates
  • Agate Hunting Tutorial
  • Agate Hunting Field Trip
  • Geology Hike: Reading the land
  • Lapidary Fundamentals
  • Lapidary Workshop  and Jewelry Making (supplies available for purchase from 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.)

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 spiritual and scientific approach to growing food you will have the opportunity to learn from Arlene Coco, a locally famous 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 new Wolf Ridge ELC Farm.

Lower physical exertion. Standing and kneeling required.

Workshop sessions

  • The Heart and Art of Pizza: The soul of soil and growing plants, harvest vegetables, sauces and veggies, wood-fired pizza making.
  • Preserving the Harvest:  Freezing techniques and food safety best practices, pesto, ratatouille, cajun trinity, bread baking, create dinner for the weekend group.
  • Food and Farming – the Future of Food: Future of farming, regional efforts to create a local food system.
  • Stocking the Pantry: Herbs and vegetables, wood oven bread baking, grind grains for flour, master baking mix, scones, quick breads.

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.

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.



$350 (Includes meals, lodging, instruction and supplies.)


Northern 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 corridor. 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.**

Workshop sessions

  • Setting mist-nets:  proper nets to use, placement of nets, use of playback equipment.
  • Banding owls
    • how to extract owls from nets
    • proper handling techniques
    • aging and sexing owls
    • proper processing techniques
  • Explore the owl migration along Lake Superior
  • Owl Monitoring and Conservation.
  • General Banding Techniques:  banding techniques for passerines, handling and processing of birds.

Dave Grosshuech

Dave Grosshuesh’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.



$355 (Includes meals, lodging, and instruction. Also includes and additional night’s stay – program ends Monday, October 3 after lunch.)

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 be 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).

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.”

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.”



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


Housing, Meals, & General Schedule

General Schedule

**Note that Owl Banding and Photography may have a slightly different schedule.


4-5:00 Check-in
5:15      Dinner
6:15 – 8:00   Welcome, Introductions, and Evening Sessions


7:30 Breakfast
8:15 -11:45 Morning Sessions
12:15   Lunch
1:30 – 4:30 Afternoon Sessions
5:15  Dinner
6:00 – 9:30 Evening Sessions


7:30 Breakfast
8:15 -11:45 Morning Sessions
12:15   Lunch
1:00 Closing and Depart


A place to kick back and relax.

Housing for Beginning session

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.

Housing for Advanced session

We’re pleased to announce the temporary Family Camp housing – deluxe RV trailers custom made for Wolf Ridge . They will be used during the later summer sessions while we renovate the dorm. Each ‘dorm room’ is a top-of-the-line new RV. Your family will have a sofa, generous open area, cabinets, wardrobes, dinette, full size bathroom with a shower and tub, and electric service that is hard-wired into the grid. Two to three people will share a unit, which has one queen bed in a private room, two bunked beds, and two single beds to choose from. Laundry and internet are near-by. These brand new RV units are being specially made for Wolf Ridge’s summer use. See a 360-degree view of here.  (Note that our floor plan is slightly different that shown in the link – see diagram below.)

In summer of 2018, banding workshop housing will move into a new permanent home in the updated West Dorm.

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.

Register Now

Register online now
We accept credit cards (VISA, MasterCard or Discover) as well as checks.