Shovels and Ribbons: June 3 in Pictures

Posted By Carrie Anderson
June 28, 2017

On Saturday, June 3, 2017 we gathered to celebrate the culmination of two important milestones in the Making Waves $9.4 million capital campaign – completion of the Lakeview Staff House and Maintenance Buildings, and kicking off Phase 2, the Margaret A. Cargill Lodge and Lake Superior classroom access. These milestones would not be possible without YOU!

Here’s a photo journal from the day’s celebrations:


Pre-event Reception

The celebration started with a private reception outside the cafeteria for top Making Waves campaign donors.


Throughout the day we were joined by others, including Founder Jack Pichotta and Minnesota Senator Rob Ecklund.


Lunch and Major Donor Recognition

After the reception we ate a wonderful lunch prepared by Christopher O’Brien. Tom Berg, former chair of the board and current Making Waves co-chair with Russ Bierbaum, provided an update about campaign successes, the importance of the Living Building Challenge certification this campaign embodies, and details about the continued generosity of the Margaret A. Cargill Foundation. Tom and  Russ presented the major donors who were attending with a limited edition block print made for the campaign by Betsey Bowen, thanking them for their support.


Ribbon Cutting Ceremony

Russ explained a little bit about our student naturalists. These “student nats” are 20 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 are also studying contemporary learning theories and working towards advanced degrees. These talented individuals, now 800+, leave Wolf Ridge and move into positions around the globe. This program lends itself to many referring to us as “Wolf Ridge U” even though we aren’t a university.

Pictured are Shannon Walz, Education Director; Bob Gardner, Gardner Builders President; Russ Bierbaum, Board President and Campaign Co-Chair; Jack Pichotta, Founder; Pete Smerud, Executive Director; Tom Berg, Campaign Co-Chair; Patrick Thibaudeau, HGA Vice President; Ken Smith, Finance Director

Russ then provided details about the new Maintenance home. For more than 40 years our maintenance team worked in the basement of our west dorm. While they are creative, this setting hasn’t been the most efficient for them to get the job done, especially when you consider only being able to work when the rest of the building isn’t occupied. It was time to make a change.

Both of these buildings represent the end of the first phase of our Making Waves campaign.




We took advantage of the weather and broke into small groups to tour Lakeview Staff House, the Maintenance Building, and the soon-to-be-renovated West Dorm.


Groundbreaking for the Margaret A. Cargill Lodge

You may recall that a couple of years ago the board and staff determined we needed to rearrange our main campus to better serve students. And if we are going to do this, could we do it in a way that also educates at the same time? When discussions were finished, they chose to go all out – to create a living building that would educate the students who would be living there – the Living Building Challenge, the highest international standard for sustainability.

Patrick Thibaudeau, Vice President for Sustainability with HGA, told a bit about the design of the building and shared his excitement for the Living Building Challenge full-certification we are seeking. “LBC is a challenge, really hard,” Patrick said, “We will show that it can be done this far north.” HGA has been with us since the beginning providing design services. Thank you HGA for your commitment to Wolf Ridge.

Bob Gardner, President for Gardner Builders, was next to speak. Bob first came to Wolf Ridge as a chaperone with his child’s school. “Watch your kids when you come here — it changed my kid’s lives. It was really something special to come as a dad, to see them enveloped into this ecosystem. The leadership they teach here is transformational.” Thank you Bob, and your staff at Gardner, for your enthusiasm for both the Wolf Ridge experience and Living Building Challenge.

Each attendee had the opportunity to also take their picture breaking ground. After there was a brief reception at the Science Center.

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    The Smerud family

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    Past and current staff

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    Kids - the reason to do it all!

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    Wolf Ridge board members

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    Capital campaign and construction leadership

One of our dreams is to get students closer to Lake Superior. Thanks to a generous landowner, we have added 68 acres of land and over 1,600 feet of shoreline on Lake Superior. While we didn’t visit the site today, Phase 2 will create the needed access and classroom to begin taking students down to learn about freshwater at the best place on the planet to do so – Lake Superior itself.

Thank-you to everyone who was able to make it up on June 3, and to all those who are supporting the cause in whatever way – helping us tell the story of Living Buildings, financial and in-kind donations, and those donating their time. Of course none of this would matter without those who believe in the power of the adventures in learning that take place on this beautiful campus.


What’s Next?

We are still in need of donations to reach our $9.4 million target. If you know of someone who might be interested in contributing, or if you would like to make another gift yourself, we have a great opportunity to more than double the next $154,000 in donations through the Margaret A. Cargill Matching Grant. As soon as we hit the $154,000 mark, they will write a check for $250,000!

Another way to help is to spread the word. If you would be interested one of our staff members joining you and a group of friends to talk about the Making Waves campaign and projects, please let me know! You can reach me at john.chandler@wolf-ridge.org.

2 Responses to Shovels and Ribbons: June 3 in Pictures

  1. Megan Bondy says:

    do the students at wolf rige get to do photography?

  2. Carrie Anderson says:

    Hi Megan, Yes students do a little bit of photography in our Changing Climates class. Cameras are used to both focus the student’s observations and to create a general photographic record of phenology over the years the class has been offered. We also occasionally do adult photography weekends with local professionals.