Wolf Ridge Wolf Ridge


A gift to Wolf Ridge is a gift to the youth who will lead us into the future. You will provide them with the skills, knowledge, and motivation to grow into informed citizens with the commitment to act together for a quality environment.

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    The completed Margaret A. Cargill Lodge as rendered by architect HGA.

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    Students tour the Living Building Challenge construction and learn how it is making a difference.

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    Displays in each room help residents keep track of their energy and water usage.

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    New group spaces build community.

Wolf Ridge seeks donations to help school children attend our programs with their class via school scholarships, to offer camp scholarships to youth who could otherwise not attend, to our growing endowment, and to help us cover day to day operating expenses.

We also need about $2.3 million more to reach our goal of $9.4 million in the Making Waves capital campaign. Making Waves is funding a major campus update. This major effort includes a remodel of our Margaret A. Cargill Lodge (formerly the West Dorm) to Living Building Challenge standards, which is the highest international goal for any sustainable building. We are one of less than fifty across the world attempting this goal. The final project will be the development of a classroom and access to Lake Superior. You can view the projects in the video below or on WolfRidgeLivingBuildingChallenge.org.

Ways to Give

Our community is everything to us. And it’s not just made up of people who have been to Wolf Ridge as kids, and are now giving back as adults. It includes people from all over the world who believe in our cause; getting young people outdoors to learn about and be inspired to care for the environment.

Wolf Ridge is a one-of-a-kind facility that especially appeals to kids. It instills commitment, motivation, and skills in children in a setting that includes the nearby Superior National Forest and the Boundary Waters Canoe Area. A generation’s worth of heartfelt letters and comments from parents and chaperones who decades earlier attended as middle-schoolers tells us the Wolf Ridge experience is cherished for a lifetime.

We welcome donations at any level, from planned giving to one time gifts.

Employer Matching Gifts

Employer matching gifts are a simple way to maximize your donation to Wolf Ridge. Contact your human resources or business office to see how to set up a matching gift. Questions? Please contact our Executive Director, Peter Smerud

Planned Giving

Become a Member of the Legacy Circle

Wolf Ridge began in 1971 as one teacher’s idea to get kids outside to learn to love nature and to discover how important it is to protect the environment. 40 years later, Wolf Ridge is recognized nationally and internationally as a leader in environmental education with a campus that includes 2,000 acres of forests, inland lakes and streams.

Planned giving is vital to Wolf Ridge’s future. It allows us to run a state-of-the-art campus and program long into the future. There are a number of plans, and each has different benefits for the donor.

Contact Wolf Ridge for more information. 218-353-7414, or email contact our Executive Director, Peter Smerud.

You can help ensure that Wolf Ridge continues to educate future generations about the importance of protecting the environment by becoming a member of the Legacy Circle.


Endowment is a gift for today and tomorrow

By contributing to Wolf Ridge’s endowment, you can help ensure the long-term stewardship of 2000 acres of land and the excellence of an environmental education program that serves more the 14,000 young people and teachers each year.

Questions? Please contact our Executive Director, Peter Smerud

Adopt an Animal

Adopt an Animal

Do you remember a special encounter with a wild animal? Perhaps it was a sudden rush of wings as a bird took flight inches from where you stood. Maybe the amazing quiet as you watched, unnoticed by a fox or squirrel searching for food. In these moments, these wild encounters, we understand more than any book or National Geographic special can ever tell us.

By adopting one of our education animals, you are helping provide its food, housing, equipment and veterinary care. Adopt an animal as a gift, a rewarding classroom project or as a way to show your support for wildlife. Your donation is fully tax deductible, and you’ll get to learn a bit about who you adopt.

Who Would You Like to Adopt?

Adopt Thistle, our North American Porcupine. $250 donation. We will send you an 8×10 photo, information sheet, and a porcupine puppet as a thank-you. E-mail Erin Waldorf to set up a donation.

Adopt one of our education birds, northern fish, or the salamanders. $35 donation. We will send you a 4×6 photo and an information sheet about the animal you adopt. You can choose at the check-out screen. E-mail Erin Waldorf to set up a donation.

Making Waves Capital Campaign

the impact of wolf ridge

The details in these documents spell out details of Wolf Ridge’s history, goals and influence.

Please see the “Explore,” “Education,” and “Visit” tabs on our web page to see examples of Wolf Ridge’s campus, educational opportunities, and programs in which students and families participate.

Living Building Challenge Dormitory -- Margaret A. Cargill Lodge

Need For a Change

Wolf Ridge has found that some of its facilities are significantly limiting capacity and impact. As a result of outdated room and bathroom configurations, our West Dormitory can serve 18% fewer students than when first designed due to changes in liability laws and societal expectations.

After a national search, Wolf Ridge hired the HGA architectural firm to design a rebuilt dormitory.HGA and the Wolf Ridge Board of Trustees and staff agreed that the Margaret A Cargill Lodge should serve as a teaching tool for constructing sustainable buildings. Wolf Ridge hopes to make this new housing conform to the highest international standard for sustainable building, a standard known as the Living Building Challenge (LBC). As of 2014, only 230 LBC buildings exist in the world. The standard is very tough – it requires net zero energy usage, recycling of water, etc. (This standard is more rigorous than even the very good LEED platinum standard). This building can be a national model and a teaching tool for students and visitors to Wolf Ridge.

Construction was completed on the Margaret A Cargill Lodge in spring 2018.​​ The building will now be tested over 12 consecutive months to see if will meet the full Living Building Challenge of net zero water and energy use. The daily actions and choices of participants living in the building will determine the results. Each room in the MAC Lodge has a screen where residents can watch their resource impacts in real time, thus learning how they can help reach this important goal.

Wolf Ridge Living Building Challenge project website

Lake Superior Campus

Starry Skies and Fresh Water

Wolf Ridge has been dreaming of land on Lake Superior for years, and has designed a thoughtful approach for use of the land and lake. Thanks to a generous landowner, Wolf Ridge has added 65 acres of land and more than 1,600 feet of shoreline on Lake Superior, the largest freshwater lake in the world, to its menu of attractions and tools for learning. Nothing like this exists elsewhere.

The Plan

A small road will get people into the edge of the land. Students will walk on paths to camping spaces or a small classroom building with limited kitchen facilities. Wolf Ridge faculty are developing a new curriculum to teach about the largest of the Great Lakes and the critical importance of its contents. Students will learn essential concepts and important values while experiencing spectacular sunrises and sunsets, starry skies, and crashing waves, all from one of the most inspirational viewing platforms in America.

Add this new land to the existing 2,000 acres of forest, farm and garden, climbing walls, ropes courses, wetlands, lakes and streams on the Wolf Ridge campus, and it becomes clear that Wolf Ridge now has the raw materials to build a facility in the vanguard of environmental education and teaching in the United States.

Lake Superior Campus Video

The Costs

The detailed design and construction costs to make this dream a reality are estimated to be:

    • Lake Superior Site; $1,522,943
    • Margaret A Cargill Lodge (formerly the West Dorm); $4,845,668 – construction completed spring, 2018
    • Lakeview House (student naturalist home); $2,537,879 – construction completed spring, 2017
  • Infrastructure Improvements and Maintenance Building; $493,510 – construction completed spring, 2017

TOTAL; $9,400,000

Naming opportunities are available for donations above $10,000. See details.