Scenes from the Wolf Ridge Farm
September 2, 2022
Through an intense experiential graduate program, we train “student naturalists” to be effective environmental educators. For 10 months, these student naturalists live and learn environmental education on our 2,000-acre campus in northern Minnesota. 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. We’ve trained over 1,000+ naturalists during our 50-year history as an organization.
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 an average of one weekend a month. The classes cover topics in cultural history, natural history, and adventure education. Your students from visiting schools will typically range from fourth grade to 12th grade.
Evaluations of your teaching, observing natural phenomena, discussions with peers, creating lesson plans, attending seminars, adventuring in the woods, and participating in a mentored study of your choice related to environmental and sustainability education … 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, equitable learning environments, tapping maple trees, place-based education, food systems, and more. You will be surrounded by learning opportunities and directed toward many. It is also up to you to take advantage of those that inspire and challenge you.
Every day you’ll be outdoors teaching about trees, beavers, aquatic critters, mammals, etc. You won’t be able to help yourself by 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, and field trips speed you on your way.
We are a community of 90+ staff who live and work on the Wolf Ridge campus. 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. Personal 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
Our program typically runs from late August through early June. Graduates may have the opportunity for paid work in the summer.
Applications for 2023 are now open. Please complete an online application or contact us if you would like to know more about the application timeline or program. We love hearing from prospective applicants.
The out-of-pocket price for the 2023-2024 school year is approximately $250 per credit. Naturalists receive a private room in our new Lakeview Staff Housing, meals in our dining hall when schools are in residence, and necessary materials for teaching and learning from educators at Wolf Ridge and Antioch University New England.
On campus work-study experiences are available to offset the entire out-of-pocket price.
Each week you might teach six classes, participate in workshops/field trips/seminars covering education and natural history, serve as a liaison for a visiting group, 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.
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.
Thinking about applying? Curious what winter in northern Minnesota is like? Are you trying to understand how this program would fit into your work or school schedule? Fill out the form below and we will reach out to you.
Or contact Joe Walewski directly. We love sharing stories and hearing from prospective applicants.