Choosing a career path was “never about the money” for graduating senior Lynn Dohrmann, who has spent the last four years being of service and providing inclusive opportunities in the outdoors.
“I would so much rather be enjoying what I’m doing, than have a lot of money and be miserable,” Dohrmann explained.
Growing up in DeWitt, Iowa, Dohrmann felt inspired by the natural world and found she learned much better in wilderness settings and when she discovered she could major in outdoor education at Northland, was sold on the College.
She will graduate with a double major in outdoor education with an emphasis in therapeutic universal design and wilderness leadership and natural resources with an emphasis in restoration ecology.
For the last four years, she has pursued her passion for the natural world and for making sure underrepresented populations have access to that world. Along the way, Dohrmann has impacted countless programs and individuals in the Chequamegon Bay region.
“When she gets an idea, she really takes hold of it and pursues it, which is a valuable character trait,” said outdoor education professor Cindy Dillenschneider, who believes Dohrmann stands out because of her ability to lead and collaborate on projects that benefit others.
“She has immersed herself in a wide variety of opportunities under that focus of therapeutic and universal design and is very passionate about inclusion,” Dillenschneider reflected. “She has really invested her heart and soul into the projects she has worked on.”
This year, Dohrmann was a part of team that modified a hand cycle for six-year old Ashland resident Roy Cook. Born with spina bifida, Cook always dreamed of being able to go for a bike ride with his friends and family.
“We have people from all walks of life all over, and I think its important that everyone gets the same opportunities,” Dohrmann said.
Dohrmann believes that although she enjoys being a leader, it has turned out to be more of a calling than a pursuit.
During her freshman year, Dohrmann worked as an assistant instructor for the Bad River outdoors program that focuses on exposing tribal youth to concepts associated with water stewardship.
“We did everything from canoeing and kayaking to working with tribal elders,” Dohrmann explained. “We worked with Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission and Bad River Department of Natural Resources to do monitoring and stream sampling.”
As a sophomore, she was promoted to the coordinator of the program.
“She took on a much greater role than what she originally intended, but that was what was needed and she stepped up,” Dillenschneider said.
In another role as a leader for Northland College freshmen outdoor orientation, Dohrmann developed criteria for participants to self-screen their participation eligibility—a mandate of the American with Disabilities Act (ADA).
“Essential Eligibility Criteria (EEC) were to be written so a person can self-screen to see if they have the basic skill sets to participate,” Dillenschneider said. “We covered this information in class and she took it upon herself to teach the other leaders about the criteria.”
Dohrmann wrote nineteen criteria and last fall was the first time the outdoor orientation program provided EEC’s to participants.
To sustain her efforts into the future, Dohrmann is leaving behind a basic EEC template as well as a lesson plan that teaches new trip leaders about the importance of creating these criteria.
“I wanted to teach about the importance of inclusion, and give future leaders that knowledge and background,” Dohrmann explained.
After graduation, Dohrmann will head east to Boston, Massachusetts, to guide sea kayaking trips in the Boston Harbor with Thompson Island Outward Bound. Although her contract is up in August, she may decide to continue working with the company until December.
After that, Dohrmann says its “up in the air,” but she hopes to continue being of service in her field.
In the future, Dohrmann says she may continue her work with Outward Bound or move back to the shores of Lake Superior.
“Looking back, I see that Northland has really allowed me to become a leader in my field,” Dohrmann explained. “And it really doesn’t matter how much money I make, as long as what I’m doing makes me, and others, happy.”
Amber Mullen ’12, a graduate of Northland College and a freelance journalist, is the author of this article.