The Henry and Agnes Nelson Family Endowment

don_nelsonThe Henry and Agnes Nelson Family Endowment for Natural Lands and Environmental Science was created in 2000 by Donald H. Nelson to provide resources for active environmental stewardship of college-owned land and related academic activities.

The endowment supports three specific goals:

  • The restoration and maintenance of natural habitats on St. Olaf College land
  • Ensuring sustainable agriculture practices on St. Olaf-owned land
  • Enabling 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. The endowment is a gift to the college from one of their sons, Donald Nelson ’50, a retired orthodontist, tree farmer, and dedicated environmentalist. Don practiced dentistry in Minneapolis for three years before joining the staff of the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, where he served for 26 years. His siblings are Joan Nelson Bell ’50 and Richard Nelson ’52.

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, and 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. Paul continues birding and contributing to many conservation organizations, including The Nature Conservancy. He has led birding trips around the world.

Governmental Agencies

The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service  has played a big role in enabling St. Olaf College to develop its Natural Lands. In 1993 St. Olaf received a $75,000 USF&WS/Ducks Unlimited grant to restore 50 acres of land to 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/Ducks Unlimited to restore 100 acres into prairie and wetlands. This parcel of land extends north to North Avenue and west to Eaves Avenue (Ducks Unlimited raises money from private sources for wetland reclamation throughout North America and channels it through the USF&WS).

We also received a $20,000 grant from Pheasants Forever, another private organization, to help pay for prairie seed costs.

The college also has has 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 in 1988 was 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.