Parker Matzinger has tracked wildlife in Costa Rica with Assistant Professor of Natural Resources Erik Olson. He founded and performed in the Northland College Percussion Ensemble, interned at the Mary Griggs Burke Center for Freshwater Innovation, and attended a week-long workshop combining biology and acoustics with the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

Matzinger, who double-majored in biology and natural resources with an emphasis in fisheries and wildlife ecology, has also served as director of sustainability for the Northland College Student Association (NCSA), with oversight of the Environmental Council and the REFund and is a founding member of the newest student group, Student Voices. He has also been a First Year Experience leader and an outdoor orientation leader.

In other words, there’s no moss gathering on this graduating senior.

So, no surprise, he’s been hired by the National Park Service Great Lakes Inventory and Monitoring Network in partnership with Northland College to coordinate an acoustic bat survey in regional national parks—including the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore, Isle Royale, Grand Portage, St. Croix, Sleeping Bear Dunes, and Voyageurs National Park.

And no surprise, Matzinger is the 2016 recipient of the Student Life Indelible Mark Award, along with Liz White. The award recognizes students that best exemplify the spirit and values of Northland College by leaving a positive lasting impression on the campus community.

“Parker is an articulate and extremely devoted leader in whatever work he is engaged in, and this commitment has endured and grown throughout his time at Northland,” stated the awards committee. “His leadership style is inclusive, relational, and is especially adept at accomplishing diverse goals that are identified.”

Matzinger is not letting this distinction go to his head—in fact, he needed to be reminded of the award. “Truth is I’ll mostly be forgotten in four years,” he laughs. “Maybe my work in sustainability will be remembered because my name is on documents.”

Only time will tell. Matzinger worked tirelessly to further promote communications between students and administration, to advance the environmental mission, to play in a band, and to research and study what interested him.

In the next year, he will be applying to graduate schools to study natural resources with an emphasis on acoustic research.

He says his Costa Rica research with Professor Olson will also continue and that he intends to remain involved. He will be publishing results as lead author and Olson will be publishing another as the lead author.

“I’m extremely lucky to get jobs in my field, to have authored a paper. I’ve been staff member of a nonprofit (NCSA) for three years. I’ve given speeches, sat in a working group, been on a hiring committee, and interacted with the larger community,” he said.

“I have the private number of the College president and the executive director of the Sigurd Olson Environmental Institute—and have been to their homes for dinner—these are experiences and skills most kids my age don’t get.”


More Graduate Stories