The Sigurd Olson Environmental Institute provides leadership in citizen science, outreach, and education on regional conservation issues while fostering the next generation of environmental leaders.

Stewardship Speaker Series

The SOEI invites the best minds to talk about current and emerging issues in natural resources and conservation as a way to inform and engage the public. Continue the conversation through our Stewardship Speaker Series.

History & Timeline

Sigurd Olson sitting on a porch
On August 27, 1971, a little more than a year after the celebration of the first Earth Day, Northland College hosted its first environmental conference. Among those invited to address the two-day conference were Senator Gaylord Nelson and Sigurd F. Olson.

The conference became “the instrument of origin of the Sigurd Olson Environmental Institute,” as Robert Matteson, the founder of the Institute, wrote. With energy to move in an exciting and new direction, the Institute opened its doors in spring of 1972.

  • 1972: First problem-solving workshop held: Land Use and Zoning
  • 1973-75: Creation of the first post-graduate fellow positions and basin programs
  • 1978: Project LoonWatch begins/environment and spirituality programs begin
  • 1981: Sustainably designed Sigurd Olson Environmental Institute dedicated
  • 1982: Memorial service to honor Sigurd F. Olson held following his death
  • 1983: Sigurd F. Olson professorship endowed
  • 1985: First Sigurd T. Olson Loon Research Award given
  • 1985: First Apostle Islands School held
  • 1987: Timber Wolf Alliance created
  • 1989: Infusing Ojibwe World Views curriculum developed
  • 1992: U.S. Secretariat position for the Lake Superior Binational Forum created
  • 1994-95: Sustainable Forestry Guidelines written for three states
  • 1994: First Lake Superior Youth Symposium held
  • 1998: Northern Forest Restoration program begins
  • 1999: Wilderness Horizons Conference held
  • 2001: Land Stewardship outreach services begin
  • 2004: First Pathfinders session held
  • 2005: North American Loon Fund endowment established for the Sigurd T. Olson Loon Research Award
  • 2007: Completion of the Sigurd Olson Legacy Display Case containing personal mementos. The case is available for viewing on the main floor of the Sigurd Olson Environmental Institute.
  • 2009: Memorial sculpture of former Timber Wolf Alliance Coordinator Pam Troxell dedicated
  • 2010-11: SOEI coordinates 13 federal, state and local agencies, tribes, municipalities, nonprofit organizations and educational institutions through the Chequamegon Bay Area Partnership to advance shoreline and habitat restoration projects by acquiring federal Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) funding
  • 2011: New exhibit Wildness in the Soul: Sigurd Olson and the Canoe debuts at the Wisconsin Canoe Heritage Museum in Spooner, Wisconsin
  • 2012:  Establishment of Applied Research and Environmental Lab (ARELab)
  • 2012:  Establishment of new Watershed & Lakes Programs
  • 2013:  Celebration of the 35th Anniversary of LoonWatch
  • 2014:  Receives nearly $200,000 from Wisconsin Sea Grant to study climate change in the Chequamegon Bay
  • 2014:  Hosts the North American Loon Symposium on campus.
  • 2014:  Celebrates the 50th Anniversary of the Wilderness Act with a Lake Superior region Wilderness Conference held in Duluth, Minnesota.
  • 2015:  Hosts the Midwest Wolf Stewards Conference on campus.