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Weekends at Wolf Ridge: Galls, Burls and Brooms of the North Shore

September 22, 2023 @ 3:00 p.m. - September 24, 2023 @ 2:00 p.m.


Spend a glorious fall weekend on the North Shore of Minnesota gaining hands-on experience and learning from experts in their field.

Workshops take place on the Wolf Ridge campus and surrounding areas, with lodging and meals provided. Whether you’re a seasoned naturalist or just a curious learner, the experience is designed for lifelong learners who have a passion for the natural world. Participants select a single workshop for the weekend but will have an opportunity to connect with other workshop groups during meals and evening programming.

Workshop: Galls, Burls and Brooms of the North Shore

Galls, burls, and brooms! Oh my! This workshop will focus on exploring the Lilliputian world of galls, burls, and brooms as well as the plants they grow on.

Galls (no relation to seagulls) are little hidden insect homes inside plants. You’ve definitely seen some before, such as the ping-pong ball-sized lumps on goldenrod. During our outings, we’ll discover an awe-inspiring world that’s been overlooked your entire life.

We will start the weekend with a hike around the Wolf Ridge campus, following the trails, training our eyes to notice lumpy leaves and other plant deformities. We’ll also start working on plant identification because the easiest way to identify gall-inducing-organisms is by IDing the plant they reside within.  

 As our bug eyes get calibrated, we’ll start to strike out, heading farther away from the top of The Ridge hiking up and down the Sawtooth mountains surrounding the campus, and visiting the diverse set of habitats found around Finland, including Wolf Ridge’s Lake Superior property and Tettegouche State Park (including some off-trail wandering,) before returning to campus for the final day.

Instructor: Sam Guida

Sam Guida (he/him) is currently working as the Facilities Director at Camp Olson YMCA in Longville, Minnesota. Sam has always had an interest in plants and outdoor education, which led him to participate in the Naturalist Training program at Wolf Ridge after graduating college with degrees in Environmental Science and Environmental Studies. One day when wandering down the Wolf Ridge driveway, Sam noticed a funny bump on a willow tree. After some investigation, it turned out to be a gall caused by a tiny critter with a huge name; a willow beaked gall midge. This opened the rabbit hole to Sam’s journey into the world of galls, and he has been finding lumps on leaves, funny shaped flowers and spots on twigs ever since. He has also partnered with a number of organizations to host gall workshops including The Sax-Zim Bog, Pompeys Pillar National Monument, Antioch University of New England, and, The KAXE Phenology Show. Sam also enjoys eating things he finds outside, cross country skiing, and power naps on the couch.

Register for this Workshop

Lodging Information

Dining Information

Directions to Wolf Ridge

Weekend Workshop Schedule

Friday, Sep 22, 2023

  • 3:00 – 4:45 pm — Registration and check-in at the Wolf Ridge office
  • 4:00 – 4:45 pm  — Tour of the Margaret A. Cargill (MAC) Lodge
  • 5:15 pm  — Dinner
  • 6:00 – 6:30 pm  — Orientation in MAC Lodge Weesner Commons
  • 7:00 – 9:00 pm — 1st learning session
  • 10 pm  — Quiet time

Saturday, Sep 23, 2023

  • 7:30 am — Breakfast
  • 8:30-10:00 am  — Continental breakfast for Owl Workshop
  • 8:30-11:30 am  — 2nd learning session
  • 12:15 pm  — Lunch and bag lunch
  • 1:00 -2:00 pm – Naturalist program
  • 1:30 – 4:30 pm — 3rd learning session
  • 5:15 pm  — Dinner
  • 6:30 – 7:15 pm  — Evening presentation
  • 7:30 – 9:30 pm  — Social hour & campfire
  • 10:00 pm  — Quiet time

Sunday, Oct 2, 2022

  • 7:30 am — Breakfast
  • 8:30-10:00 am  — Continental breakfast for Owl workshop
  • *check out of rooms by 10:00 am
  • 8:30-11:30 am —4th  learning session
  • 12:15 pm — Lunch & check-out
  • 12:30 – Owl workshop ends
  • 12:30-1:30 pm — Optional: Use of designed rooms to shower before leaving
  • 1:00-2:00 pm – Naturalist program

On Friday afternoon before registration or on Sunday afternoon you’re welcome to hike our trails and enjoy the fall colors.

Packing List

You should plan to venture out in rain or shine and the instructors may follow up with more information on specific details about your workshop if applicable. You can expect nighttime temperatures to range from 25°F to 50°F and daytime temperatures up to 65°F. Please be prepared so you can feel comfortable if it is cool or rainy. Most of the walking you will do is on nice graveled trails, but some trails are rugged. Photography will be a common thread throughout the weekend so we encourage you to bring a camera. If you do not own a digital camera, we can loan you one for the weekend.

  • Rain suit with pants and hood
  • Walking or hiking shoes
  • Warm jacket
  • Sweater or fleece
  • Warm hat
  • Light shirts
  • Light pants
  • Wool Socks (recommended for hiking)
  • Soap, shampoo, other toiletries
  • Personal water bottle
  • Sunscreen, sun hat

Optional Items:

  • Knee-high rubber boots
  • Non-aerosol insect repellent
  • Camera
  • Sunglasses
  • Alarm clock
  • Small backpack for day use
  • Snacks (space available in group refrigerator)

Wolf Ridge will provide linens, blankets, towels, and a pillow.



September 22, 2023 @ 3:00 pm
September 24, 2023 @ 2:00 pm
Event Category:


Wolf Ridge Environmental Learning Center
6282 Cranberry Road
Finland, MN 55603
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(218) 353-7414
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On Campus, Some Travel Off Campus
Adult Education