Wolf Ridge Wolf Ridge

Making Waves Capital Campaign


You can make a difference right now with a donation to our “Making Waves” capital campaign. A Margaret A. Cargill Foundation matching grant more than doubles your contribution!


The next $154,000 raised through Making Waves donations will earn Wolf Ridge a $250,000 match.  Every $1 donated in the immediate future will earn us an additional $1.62 — your dollar turns into $2.62!  This is a great opportunity to stretch your donation and help Wolf Ridge at the same time. Gifts of all sizes are welcomed.

Funds raised will enable us to remodel our Margaret A Cargill Lodge (formerly the West Dorm) to Living Building Challenge standards, the highest international goal for any sustainable building. Students living in the new Margaret A Cargill Lodge will experience one of only a few LBC examples in the nation. The will see, in real time, the implications of their energy and water use choices. We are making waves in the fields of sustainable building, environmental education, and in the decisions of the youth who will inherit the planet.



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.

Aiming high: living building standard

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.

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 As a result of outdated room and bathroom configurations, our West Dormitory can serve 18% fewer students than when first designed due to changes in liability laws and societal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. Thanks to a generous donation from the Margaret A. Cargill Foundation, the schematic design for the Margaret A Cargill Lodge (formerly the West Dorm,) and for the related buildings described below, are complete.

Construction begins on the Margaret A Cargill Lodge in June 2017.​​

Housing for Staff

Wolf Ridge U

Teacher training, a key ingredient in our 40-plus years of success has led some people to refer to Wolf Ridge as “Wolf Ridge U.” While not a university (although, an accredited school), Wolf Ridge also develops outstanding teachers. Wolf Ridge student naturalists (“student nats” as they are called) are 16 or so staff people who live on the campus for a school year and teach, inspire, and bond with kids. In addition to teaching classes and going on hikes and trips, the student nats also are studying contemporary learning theories and working toward advanced degrees at Antioche University New England; some get certificates or Masters’ degrees, while others are on their way to PhDs.

These talented and knowledgeable people have become the seeds for a sustainable environment that are sprouting across the nation and around the world. Many of the 800- plus naturalists trained at Wolf Ridge are in key position around the globe. For example, Eva Neumeyer (1997) is one of the founders of the Hungarian Environmental Foundation in Budapest. Katya Navarro (1993) from Costa Rica and Felicita DeMedina (1988) from Paraguay were sent to train at Wolf Ridge by their respective governments.

The Need for Livable Staff Housing

Until May, 2017, student naturalists at Wolf Ridge U were housed in cramped quarters on the second floor of the West Dormitory. With more than a hundred noisy kids living on the first floor, it made a poor place for these graduate students to study and pursue their research and other graduate program requirements.

The new​ Lakeview staff house was built in 2016-17 as part of phase one of Making Waves.  Student naturalists moved in mid-May 2017, and we celebrated on June 3 with an official ribbon-cutting ceremony!

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:

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

TOTAL; $9,400,000

Details of our plan

HGA Schematic Design Report (8MB)
Full 111-page version available on request. Please contact Pete Smerud.


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    Lakeview House is done!

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    Future residents of the Living Building Challenge Margaret A. Cargill Lodge breaking ground during the June 3, 2017 celebration.

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    Major donors ($10,000+) received a limited edition "Making Waves" print by Grand Marais artist Betsey Bowen.

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    We were excited to welcome many donors, Gardner Builders staff, HGA Architects, Wolf Ridge Board members, and alumni to the June 3, 2017 ribbon-cutting for the Lakeview House!

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    It's official - the West Dorm is beginning its transformation into the new Living Building Challenge Margaret A. Cargill Lodge!

Other 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.


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? John Chandler, our Development Director, would be glad to help.

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 Development Director John Chandler.

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? John Chandler, our Development Director, would be glad to help.

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.