From the Archives: Olson Delivers the First Johnson Lecture

Sam Johnson was an early supporter of environmental studies at Northland College. In 1970, he provided a grant through The Johnson Wax Fund to develop an environmental studies curriculum at the College, and two years later, an additional grant and personal gift from Johnson helped to launch the Sigurd Olson Institute of Environmental Studies with…

The first Sigurd Olson Environmental Institute Advisory Board gathers around a table.

From the Archives: Assembling The First Advisory Board

An essential component of Bob Matteson’s vision for the Sigurd Olson Environmental Institute was an advisory board. Matteson made clear that the board’s responsibilities were advisory, rather than legal, and, as he explains in his history of the Institute, he was careful to schedule meetings of the board when fall “foliage was peaking” and spring…

Sigurd Olson Environmental Institute at Northland College

From the Archives: A Corner Office—in the Basement

In its early days, what was then the Sigurd Olson Institute of Environmental Studies was based in Bobb Hall. The basement, to be specific. Co-founder and Executive Director Bob Matteson spent countless hours in this space, shepherding an advisory board and collaborating with the College’s Environmental Studies Committee.

2021 SONWA recipients Ocean Soup (written by Meeg Pincus and illustrated by Lucy Semple) and Finding the Mother Tree (written by Suzanne Simard)

2021 Sigurd Olson Nature Writing Awards Announced

Top prizes awarded to Finding the Mother Tree and Ocean Soup

The Northland College Sigurd Olson Environmental Institute has announced the winning 2021 books for the Sigurd F. Olson Nature Writing Award (SONWA). Finding the Mother Tree: Discovering the Wisdom of the Forest (Alfred A. Knopf) by Suzanne Simard has been selected for the top prize in nature writing. “Rooted firmly in British Columbia,” Institute director…

A shelf of Sigurd Olson Nature Writing Award winners

Celebrating the Best in Nature Writing

The Sigurd Olson Nature Writing Awards

“That’s an interesting idea,” said Elizabeth Olson. “Tell me more.” I was sitting at the large maple table in the living room of Sig and Elizabeth Olson, around which countless conservation campaigns and strategies had been hatched over the decades. Even with Sig gone for eight years, the table was still a centerpiece for ideas…

Sigurd Olson and Robert Matteson stand in front of Memorial Hall

From the Archives: The Letter That Started it All

Fifty years ago, an administrative assistant in the president’s office at Northland College rolled a piece of paper into a typewriter, dated it “March 27, 1972” in the upper right corner, and then transcribed a letter from Malcom McLean (president of Northland College 1971–87) to Sigurd Olson and Robert Matteson. McLean wasn’t just pen pals…

soei building campus

Sigurd Olson Environmental Institute Turns 50

Large Trees from Small Acorns Grow!

On the morning of August 27, 1971, Mary Griggs Burke and her husband woke together on the south shore of Lake Namekagon. We don’t know for sure what they did upon waking, perhaps one or both of them went for a swim, perhaps they had tea on the screened porch of the rustic lodge where…

Stewardship flags hang in the Sigurd Olson Environmental Institute

Youth Stewardship Flags Available Through Silent Auction Until March 31

Flags Created Through a Pandemic Twist on the Apostle Islands School

COVID-19 gave us the opportunity to get creative with the Sigurd Olson Environmental Institute’s regularly occurring Apostle Islands School. Because we couldn’t take students to the islands in the month of May, we created Stewards of Tomorrow instead. In July and August of 2021, participants joined a small group of four peers for three nights…

Forest Lodge Woods

Participate in the Wisconsin Conservation Congress Spring Hearing April 11–14 

Share Your Voice on Conservation Issues

The Wisconsin Conservation Congress (WCC) and the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR) will hold the WCC 2022 Spring Hearings virtually, allowing the public to submit comments via an online survey from April 11 at 7 p.m. until April 14 at 7 p.m. If you have questions on how to participate, you can review The…

Northland students in canoes

Outdoor Recreation: For Students, By Students

After five years of visioning and development, the Sigurd Olson Environmental Institute is going big into the outdoors. Really big. The Institute has officially launched Outdoor Pursuits, which oversees outdoor recreation services and experiences for the campus community. This includes Outdoor Orientation, weekend outings and trips, the campus bouldering wall, a Nordic ski center and…