James E. Meeker Award for Excellence in Natural Resources
The natural resources program at Northland College would not have been possible without the perseverance and expertise of Professor Jim Meeker, who taught here from 1990 to 2011. Jim died at home surrounded by family and friends December 27, 2014.
A professor of botany and natural resources, Jim shared his passion for the outdoors with students in the classroom, field, and laboratory. Jim fostered an inter-disciplinary approach to solving problems and used an experiential pedagogy before those approaches were being promoted within higher education.
Through an active research program, Jim examined critical questions about wetlands and forests important to the north woods and Great Lakes region. Jim’s lasting impact on Northland College can be seen through the natural resources program that he initiated and directed and in the number of alumni that carry on his passion for botany, natural history, and scientific inquiry.
“A walk into a wetland or along a Lake Superior barrier dune with Jim was a memorable experience—his soft voice identifying the wonder of those fragile places changed people’s lives. We cannot ask for more than that of one another,” wrote College Chaplain David Saetre in a message to the College community.
Jim’s gracious presence as a colleague, educator, and mentor stands out in Northland’s history. In that spirit, an endowed fund has been initiated to honor Jim’s legacy. The James E. Meeker Award for Excellence in Natural Resources Research will honor an undergraduate student annually who has done excellent research on a natural resources topic at Northland College.
This award was established by Jim’s family, friends, students, and colleagues. It honors Jim’s legacy at Northland College and in the region by recognizing an undergraduate student, chosen by the faculty of the natural resources program, who has excelled in the last academic year with his or her independent research in the natural resources field.