By MaryJo Gingras, Outreach Program Coordinator

The Sigurd Olson Environmental Institute’s outreach programs instill a sense of wonder and inspire youth and adult participants through outdoor experiences. A million acres of forest and the largest freshwater lake in the world serve simultaneously as our classroom and playground.

Campus-based sessions such as outdoor filmmaking and aquatic ecology allow high school students to reside in the residence halls gaining a glimpse of college life at Northland. Other sessions like sailing in the Apostle Islands or backpacking in Pictured Rocks or paddling the Namekagon River offer the excitement of a wilderness expedition trip.

This past summer we launched the Forest Lodge Natural Resource Academy, a weeklong session exploring the natural resources at Forest Lodge, an historic north woods estate nestled among 872 acres of majestic forest along two miles of shoreline on Lake Namekagon in Cable, Wisconsin.

Students study tree identification and forestry skills, traverse Namekagon by pontoon in search of loon chicks, learn wolf ecology and experience howling in the vast dark north woods, and practice calling in the barred owl at Forest Lodge. They also learn about current water quality research from field researchers, and they learn about many natural resource career fields.

The impact on participants in this academy is incredible. As Olivia Oeker wrote in her evaluation: “In just four days, I have learned more about nature and myself than I thought possible. This area near Forest Lodge is one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen.”

In addition, we offer an exceptional variety of lifelong learning programs for adults that range from nature journaling to the geology of Minnesota’s north shore to a yoga retreat at Forest Lodge. Taught by professors, artists, and instructors, these sessions help recharge and inspire the kid in all of us.

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