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On the Nature of Teaching

Join our conversation about ways to expand learning through environmental education with your students.

“Sketch What You Notice”



Peter and I co-taught a Wolf Ridge Virtual Field Trip today. The focus? Forest Ecology. Actually, it was more about making observations and analyzing the data collection. And the St John the Baptist 5th graders were amazing scientists. You can see their data collection below. After some conversation and Q&A (we had taught a Birds […]

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Teaching Bird Research


Posted By Wolf Ridge Naturalist
March 15, 2021

What an amazing opportunity!! This morning, students from Breck School explored what it means to do research from both bird researchers and Wolf Ridge naturalists during their virtual field trip. Peter Harris and Joe Lutz banded birds and shared their stories about how they’ve used a special bird feeder with a magnetic recorder to collect […]

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Co-Teaching with Chickadees


Posted By Joe Walewski
March 12, 2021

I’ve co-taught virtual field trips for Wolf Ridge, but never as the only human. Today I shared the task with a Black-capped Chickadee and a Red Squirrel. I think it went well. For this Virtual Field Trip, Mr. G., a Glendale Elementary teacher, wanted to focus on vocabulary and scientific practices. Scientific practices: slow down, […]

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An Interview With Lester Park Elementary School


Posted By Carrie Anderson
May 1, 2018

Lester Park of Duluth, Minnesota is one of four parent-led school groups attending Wolf Ridge. Parent Tom Westrum has organized Lester Park’s 5th-grader weekend trip to Wolf Ridge in March for several years. Why does your school come to Wolf Ridge? Attending Wolf Ridge is a tradition our students look forward to. It is a […]

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It’s One Game at a Time for #StopBullying


Posted By David Butcher
October 12, 2016

Every time I teach Team Games it’s an adventure.  I was just coming to the end of my class and was pretty impressed with how far they had come in growing their skills and collaboration.  To finish the afternoon, I decided to give them one more big challenge.  I pulled over an imposing wooden contraption […]

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Nothing “Common” About It


Posted By Wolf Ridge Naturalist
October 27, 2015

Have you ever been out on a walk and paused to notice something “cool?”  You stop to check out this tree, flower, rock, mushroom, or whatever it is that caught your attention. You whip out your handy field guide to try and identify this neat specimen only to find it referred to as “common”. This […]

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Raspberries and Changing Climates


Posted By Wolf Ridge Naturalist
October 23, 2015

Fall in Finland, MN has been changing. Gradually each year, the warm days have been lasting longer into October. This year has proven to fit the mold. It was 80 degrees on October 11th. This has thrown the raspberries on the Ridge out of whack. On Tuesday, October 13th, we were wandering around and noticed […]

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Why I Teach


Posted By David Butcher
October 5, 2015

One of our favorite stories comes from Afton-Lakeland teacher Derek Olson.  Here is his story, as published in “Chicken Soup for the Soul: Teacher Tales.” – David Butcher, Wolf Ridge Adventure Programs Coordinator “I’ll never forget Chelsea. She was a wounded soul. Over the years she had always struggled—both academically and with selfconfidence. In addition, her […]

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A Story About Our Stories…


Posted By Wolf Ridge Naturalist
July 30, 2015

I recently enjoyed a conversation with a Wolf Ridge assistant trip leader who was planning a Trees and Keys trail lesson for the Isle Royale backpacking trip leaving this week. During our conversation, he explained to me that he was inspired to teach the lesson after having seen a viral Internet post about children’s abilities […]

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Beautiful and Delicious… Evening Primrose!


Posted By Wolf Ridge Naturalist
July 10, 2015

With a name as interesting as evening primrose, what curious naturalist wouldn’t want to find out more about the yellow flowers popping up around Wolf Ridge these days? Evening Primrose grows commonly in open areas and along roadsides, making it a good flower to spot on a casual walk. Unlike many plants and flowers you’ll […]

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Sharing Stories


Posted By David Butcher
April 27, 2015

This morning I went for my first paddle in a canoe on Wolf Lake for the season. Every year I look forward to the first paddle after the spring thaw and the ice goes off the lake, and this year I wasn’t disappointed. The temperature was brisk with the promise of warmer temperatures to come, […]

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Winter “Otter” Be Fun!


Posted By Wolf Ridge Naturalist
February 26, 2015

  photo credit A fresh snow fall at Wolf Ridge makes winter transparent! On the Sawmill Creek there were Otter tracks and slides visible up and down the creek bed. Be on the lookout for animal signs near you! – Haley Marks and Grace Theisen -photo by Grace Theisen  

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Be a Winter Weather Detective


Posted By Wolf Ridge Naturalist
February 24, 2015

There are many ways you can practice your detective skills in the winter. Blades of grass moving around can tell you which way the wind has been blowing. Snags of grass caught along the creek bank can tell you which way the water travels, and how high the water level was before it froze! – […]

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The Naturalist’s Frozen Five: Staying Warm in the Cold


Posted By David Butcher
January 6, 2015

It’s the beginning of January and we are heading into what might be the coldest week of the year so far.  Sometimes being outside in the cold can be intimidating, but here at Wolf Ridge we believe it is also a great opportunity to learn and explore in a unique setting.  During these frosty times […]

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Dressing for FUN Cold-Weather Learning


Posted By David Butcher
January 5, 2015

Winter can be amazing. When the temperatures hover around zero and below the snow squeaks when you walk and those clear azure skies and sparkling white snow can take your breath away. And if you’re dressed right, that breathe will be warm and comfortable. You’ve probably heard the expression ‘There’s no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing.’  Wolf Ridge has been teaching […]

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The Month of Winter Fog


Posted By Wolf Ridge Naturalist
December 23, 2014

View From the top of Mystical Mountain, December 15, 2014 This month Wolf Ridge has seen its fair share of fog. Why is this you may wonder? Well fog is a type of cloud formed when the relative humidity is close to 100% and the dew point and temperature are close together. These conditions allow […]

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November Snowfall Before and After


Posted By Wolf Ridge Naturalist
November 11, 2014

  In the morning…      Later that day…  Over the course of one day we went from zero to four inches of snow! Wolf Ridge has been transformed into a winter wonder land. This snow fell before the ground froze creating a warm layer between the ground and the snow. This layer is great […]

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First Snow!


Posted By Wolf Ridge Naturalist
November 3, 2014

On Thursday afternoon snow fell and stuck to the ground for the first time this season at Wolf Ridge! There was much celebration, as snow is a sign of winter coming that makes everyone excited around here. Overnight the snow continued to fall and the accumulation at 7 am on Friday morning was 0.3 inches. […]

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Dead or Alive?


Posted By Wolf Ridge Naturalist
October 21, 2014

With lots of the leaves now fallen from maple trees and other tree types, it can be hard to tell if the tree is dead or alive.  A closer look can help us decide!  If there are buds on the branches, the tree is alive.  Can’t tell if that bump is a bump or a […]

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Heat Riders: Raptor Migration in Full Swing


Posted By Wolf Ridge Naturalist
October 6, 2014

This morning I woke up to the sight of swirling silhouettes in the sky. Called “kettles” for their likeness to the appearance of rising steam from a kettle, these groups of migrating raptors (sometimes hundreds together at once!) are riding the currents of a thermal updraft in order to conserve strength and gain altitude as […]

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