The Henry and Agnes Nelson Family Endowment

don_nelsonThe Henry and Agnes Nelson Family Endowment for Natural Lands and Environmental Science was created in May 2000 by Donald H. Nelson, to provide resources for active environmental stewardship of college owned land and related academic activities. The Nelson Family Endowment has three specific purposes: to support the restoration and maintenance of natural habitats on St. Olaf College land; to support sustainable agriculture practices on St. Olaf owned land; and to support faculty and student research, curricular initiatives, course offerings and faculty development in biology and environmental science, with emphasis in ecology and conservation biology. The endowment honors the lives of Agnes Suphammer Nelson, a member of St. Olaf Academy Class of 1912, and her husband Henry Nelson, both of whom were active members of Bethel Lutheran Church in Minneapolis, Minn. The endowment is a gift to the college from one of their sons, Donald Nelson, a retired orthodontist, tree farmer and dedicated environmentalist, and a member of St. Olaf College Class of 1950. Don practiced dentistry in Minneapolis for three years and then joined the staff of the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., where he served for 26 years. Don’s sister, Joan Nelson Bell, graduated from St. Olaf in 1950, and his brother, Richard Nelson, was a member of the St. Olaf class of 1952.

Morton and Thelma Egeland Endowment for Environmental Science

A generous gift from Paul Egeland (’65) in honor of his parents, Morton and Thelma Egeland, has helped to support:

  • Restoration and maintenance of our natural lands
  •   Faculty and student research in ecology and conservation biology
  • Sustainable agriculture practices on College-owned lands

Paul has had a strong lifelong interest in wildlife and the importance of natural habitats. He has been an avid bird watcher since childhood and did much birding as a student at St. Olaf in the 1960s. The vertebrate biology course on campus has been documenting vertebrate species that occur on College-owned land since the 1980s.  Paul recently added to this list by reporting several bird species he identified at St. Olaf when he was a student here that have now been added to this historical documentation of species on campus. Paul continues birding as well as being involved in important work and contributions to many conservation organizations including The Nature Conservancy. He has birded in many places in the world, leading bird trips in and out of the U. S.

Governmental Agencies

This U. S. Fish & Wildlife Service  has played a big role in enabling St. Olaf College to develop our natural lands. In 1993 St. Olaf received a $75,000 grant from them to restore 50 acres of land into prairie and wetland through their Wetland Restoration Permanent Easement program. This gave us our first as well as our largest restored wetland on campus, near Skoglund Athletic Center. In 2001 we received $250,000 from the USF&WS to restore 100 acres into prairie and wetlands. This parcel of land extends north to North Avenue and west to Eaves Avenue. It should be mentioned that all the above money for these projects came from Ducks Unlimited. Ducks Unlimited raises the money from private sources for wetland reclamation throughout North America and channels it through the USF&WS for these projects. We also received a $20,000 grant from Pheasants Forever, another private organization, to help pay for prairie seed costs. Thus, the above monies did not come from tax dollars. We have also received support from the U. S. Dept. of Agriculture through their Conservation Reserve Program (CRP). This program supports the conversion of erodible farmland into permanent cover. It provides cost sharing for plantings as well as paying a small subsidy for the farmland retired from agriculture. Our first CRP project was in 1988 for 23 acres planted for our first large scale tree planting. Since then we have enrolled several other parcels of agriculture land into the CRP, mainly for our tree plantings.

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