SOEI News

Several issues of the Sigurd Olson Environmental Institute’s Horizons newsletter

From the Archives: Exploring the Horizons

Sharing the Work of the Institute

Sigurd F. Olson titled his fifth book Open Horizons, and in the book’s introduction, he writes that what “a man finally becomes, how he adjusts himself to this world, is a composite of all the horizons he has explored, for they have marked him and left indelible imprints on his attitude and convictions and given…

Article from the Ashland Daily Press about a loon rescue

From the Archives: Project LoonWatch

“Late-season loon rescued from icy trap,” reads the headline on page five of the November 30, 1979 issue of the Ashland Daily Press. Framed by photos of the loon rescue and ads for Ungrout Hardware and Meyer’s Walgreen Agency, the Daily Press article describes how Rick Newton and Gary Cholwek from Wisconsin Project Loon Watch…

Pages 1 and 2 of “Sigurd Olson Writes About Northland College”

From the Archives: The Environmental Liberal Arts

In 1975, a small, eight-page pamphlet was produced that is described on its cover as “a publication of Northland: A Liberal Arts – Environmental College.” Titled Sigurd Olson Writes about Northland College, the origin of this pamphlet can be traced back to the 1973 summer meeting of the Northland College Board of Trustees. At this…

Several issues of the Sigurd Olson Environmental Institute’s north land journal

From the Archives: Into the north land

Inside the First Issue of the Sigurd Olson Environmental Institute’s First Journal

By the spring of 1973, the Sigurd Olson Institute of Environmental Studies, still less than a year old, was humming with activity. Three Johnson Lectures had been delivered. A pilot environmental education program had been established with schools in nearby Drummond and Cable, Wisconsin. The largest government grant in the College’s history had been secured…

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 Malcolm McLean (president of Northland College 1971–87) to Sigurd Olson and Robert Matteson. McLean wasn’t just pen pals…