Graduate Naturalist Training

For college graduates who want to learn and teach outdoors

Live, learn & teach in a community of over thirty skilled environmental educators and naturalists. Join the broader community of nearly 1000 alumni scattered across the globe serving as college professors, natural resource professionals, directors of nature centers and camps, school teachers, scientists, state and national park naturalists, writers, adventurers, and artists.

Wolf Ridge is dedicated not only to teaching school children; we are also committed to teaching teachers. Through an intense experiential graduate program, we train “student naturalists” to be effective environmental educators. For nine months these student naturalists live and learn environmental education. It’s tough, but participants emerge from the experience with the skills needed to excel as a naturalist and to be effective as an educator.

Learn how to teach while teaching outdoors

You’re a teacher

All of our naturalist positions include teaching, working with school groups, and graduate coursework in natural history, environmental, and sustainability education. We value learning by doing, so there are opportunities to work alongside staff members in farming, animal care, curriculum development, non-profit management, and more.

After the initial two weeks of staff training, you begin teaching. An average week consists of six half-day classes from Monday through Friday, plus about one weekend a month. The classes cover topics in cultural history, natural history, and adventure education. Your students will typically range from 4th grade to 12th grade. When not teaching, you’ll have the option to participate in workshops, field trips, seminars covering education and natural history,  go on an adventure with other naturalists, and more. Though the schedule will be filled, if you enjoy a little chaos and love the outdoors, Wolf Ridge might be worth looking into.

You’re a student

Everything you do here is connected to a credit. Whether you’re teaching, attending a seminar, or walking through the woods looking at plants, you’re receiving credit. The entire program is interdisciplinary and will put you in direct contact with professionals in education, wildlife management, storytelling, business administration, storytelling, organic farming, live animal care, and more.

Evaluations of your teaching, observing natural phenomena, discussions with peers, creating lesson plans, attending seminars, adventuring in the woods … all of these things will help you learn about the field of environmental education and how to be effective as an educator. As a student, you take courses all year, yet those courses could be bird banding, plant identification hikes, tapping maple trees, reading environmental literature, and more. You will be surrounded by learning opportunities and directed towards many. It is also up to you to take advantage of those that inspire and challenge you.

You’ll be working towards earning a Graduate Level Certificate of Environmental Education and Sustainability.  Managed jointly by Wolf Ridge and Antioch University New England, the certificate serves as the core of our program. You will teach children and adults, track lynx, develop lessons, explore north shore geology, and much more. In addition to gaining 10 months of practical experience, you will earn 12 graduate credits that can be applied to Master’s programs across the nation. The program is designed to serve those interested in pursuing a graduate certificate and lends potential to complete a Master’s at (but not limited to) Antioch University New England with a reduced cost for Wolf Ridge Training Program Alumni.

Who will be your teachers? Seasoned naturalists, Antioch University New England professors, the school children who attend Wolf Ridge, the natural world, your peers, and you yourself.

You’re a naturalist

Every day you’ll be outdoors teaching about trees, beavers, aquatic critters, mammals, etc. You won’t be able to help yourself from learning the natural history of the area. You’ll also attend seminars on specific subjects such as botany, aquatics, tracking, weather, birds, astronomy, geology, cultural history, amphibians, etc. Our intention is to wave goodbye to a confident naturalist at the end of the year. These seminars/workshops/field trips speed you on your way.

You’re a community member

We are a small community of 60 staff. We lean on each other often. We are responsible to and for each other. Part of the program is experiencing the challenges and highlights of being in a community. The growth can be tremendous. We have recently built new naturalist housing designed to Living Building Challenge standards – a building certification program, advocacy tool, and philosophy that defines the most advanced measure of sustainability in the built environment possible today – the building will provide you with total-immersion learning on the topic of sustainability in the community.


Nuts and Bolts


You will receive a private dormitory room, meals when schools are in residence, all necessary materials for teaching and learning, and scholarships from Wolf Ridge and Antioch University New England. Your total out-of-pocket cost for the program will be $1200.

Cooperating institution

Antioch University New England


You will receive a Certificate of Environmental Education and Sustainability with 12 graduate credits that can be applied towards a Masters program at Antioch University New England or any other program in the nation.


  • ESC 5501 Natural History of the Northwoods (3 credits)
  • ESE 5470 EE Methods (3 credits)
  • ES 6960 Environmental Education and Sustainability Internship (3 credits)
  • ESE 5020 Foundations of EE (3 credits)


Student Teaching Naturalist Program

Practice teaching in and out of the classroom. Wolf Ridge is committed to bridging the gap between formal and non-formal education. Undergraduate formal education students can gain experience as they teach outdoors at Wolf Ridge part of the year, and also complete their student teaching practicum to earn their teaching license. The experience outside of student teaching is similar to the Graduate Naturalist Program as described above. For more questions, contact Joe Walewski.

Our partner colleges thus far include

  • Gustavus Adolphus
  • University of Minnesota – Duluth
  • Winona State University
  • Your school – we are willing to work with new schools to expand our partnerships!

Develop leadership skills for education

Past participants in other Wolf Ridge training programs can spend a second year working alongside our program staff on authentic tasks within the field of environmental education. They design apprenticeships focusing on supervision and training, program development, animal handling, fundraising, curriculum maintenance, marketing, and more.



Apply in early winter for positions starting the following fall. Generally, people start applying in December. Positions are filled by April.

If accepted, expect to arrive on campus in late August and stay through the beginning of June. Normal school holidays are also often (but not always) breaks for Wolf Ridge. Program graduates may have the opportunity for paid work in the summer.

“I leave Wolf Ridge with the realization that one is never finished learning and developing and with a new eagerness to learn, to develop myself, and to explore.”

–Nienke Beintema, Former Graduate Student Naturalist