Ellie Priester

Sigurd Olson Environmental Institute Program Coordinator

Ellie Priester
Office:First Floor, Sigurd Olson Environmental Institute
Email:Send a message...


Earned and Honorary Degrees

BA Outdoor Education—Equity and Inclusion, Northland College


I grew up moving around the Midwest and visiting the family cabin in Hayward, Wisconsin, every year. I started my college journey in 2015 and went to three colleges with two gap years sprinkled in, and finally graduated from Northland in 2021. During my freshman year, I discovered rock climbing in the college fitness center and took multiple climbing trips around the US with the Adventure Program there. My following gap year allowed me to explore this newfound passion for the outdoors internationally in New Zealand, India, and Laos, and after my second year of school I decided I needed to make my passion my career. I took a ninety-day NOLS Semester, enrolled at Northland for outdoor education, and since graduating have jumped into creating outdoor opportunities for students like the ones that were so pivotal for my own college journey.

Why Northland?

Ten-year-old me would’ve never guessed I’d end up living here full time, but I have fallen in love with Lake Superior and the Chequamegon Bay area since coming here as a student. I want to impart to students the sense of place in the woods and waters of our region and the sense of belonging in the Northland and Cheq Bay community that I’ve found for myself. Northland shares this mission of getting students outside and caring for our more-than-human community.

Student Involvement

Within Outdoor Pursuits, we employ between twenty and thirty student staff, and those staff either lead trips for other students or work in our on-campus service centers. We work with and mentor these students to provide meaningful experiences to their peers whether on a waterfall hike or at a Bouldering Wall event. We do our best to channel their passion for the outdoors in these leadership positions and also provide opportunities for them to grow personally and professionally and having as much fun as possible while doing that.


If I’m soaking in the nature of the area with friends, I’m having a good time. Foraging for wild foods, swimming in the Big Lake, bonfires on the beach, paddling, hiking, snowboarding, Nordic skiing, etc.—I ebb and flow between them all. Rock climbing is my main technical pursuit, and I love the travel that comes with it, especially road trips to the desert West and Southwest. Other things I’m passionate about are cooking, writing, playing guitar and piano, singing, training Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, and creating anything with my hands.