Katherine Jenkins

Director for Nature-based Programs

Office:Second Floor, Sigurd Olson Environmental Institute
Email:Send a message...


Earned and Honorary Degrees

MS Environmental Education, Audubon Expedition Institute, Lesley University
BA Directed Studies in Environmental Education, Northland College


I grew up within the cityscape of Louisville, Kentucky. Among the pavement, cars, and urban lifestyle, I found solace in the branches of our magnolia tree, the local parks, and the semi-darkness of a nearby golf course and its open terrain. Throughout my childhood I learned I am often happiest and most content when outside spending time in nature. A family trip with my brother, sister, and mother to the Colorado Rockies confirmed this at sixteen, and much of my career has had nature at the heart of it since.

After high school graduation, I spent a short time at the University of Maine, Orono, where I became interested in education; however, I wasn’t ready for college. I took some time off and spent a semester working at the Philadelphia Zoo and learned I truly loved non-traditional education. This led me to study at Northland College where I fell in love with Lake Superior and the northern lights! I also became a very focused student in love with learning.

My adventurous spirit and curiosity led me out and about after undergrad: I was an outdoor education intern and camp counselor in Vermont, worked as an Americorps member and trail crew leader for ten months in New Hampshire, and donned the National Park Service ranger uniform in the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore. These adventures led me to enroll with Lesley University and jump on “the bus” for three semesters studying the Southern Rockies, Sonoran Desert, and Atlantic Coast bioregions as a graduate student. My continued exploration of traditional and non-traditional education also led me to elementary education courses in Boston, Massachusetts, and a semester teaching fourth grade on Cape Cod.

In the midst of my studies, I became overwhelmed with the knowledge I was gaining about the state of the world and uncertain on how one little ole Katherine could help. My professor handed me a book by Joanna Macy—Coming Back to Life—and it opened my world. A couple years later, I connected with Joanna and trained as a facilitator of The Work that Reconnects. In addition, as a side hobby, I continue to be fascinated, studied and skilled in different areas of health and healing.

Throughout my career I have had an ongoing commitment to connecting people to the natural world, more closely to themselves, and to one another. I’ve maintained this as a wilderness guide for adjudicated youth, wilderness camp counselor, sea kayak guide, restorative justice coach and consultant, Hakomi Certified Practitioner, outdoor education faculty, mindfulness educator; faculty in Iceland, manager of the Ouray Hot Springs, and, most recently, as Sigurd Olson Environmental Institute youth outreach educator.

Why Northland?

As humans, we all want to belong. It’s an inherent life desire. Northland meets this need. I picked Northland because of the location, Lake Superior, and because of the people. In one visit I knew this was my place, a place I felt I belonged. I even left the area over and over again, determined to find other places in the country that are just as great...and there are a lot of great places...but Northland College and this surrounding region is special. People come here and stay here because of who we, including our plant and animal friends, are as a whole. It’s a good place with good people, sincere in their commitment to what they care for and love.


My interests include integrative somatic therapy, dog training, mountain and fat biking, sea kayaking, canoeing, hanging out on my paddle-board with my dog, and other creative endeavors.