Student Naturalists

Each year the Curator of Natural Lands chooses several junior or senior students who are familiar with the environment around campus and the Northfield area to be the college student naturalists. Student Naturalists are responsible for the following:

  • Organizing and leading field trips related to the natural environment in the area.
  • Creating and maintaining an information board detailing seasonal happening and natural events on campus such as tree plantings and phenology.
  • Writing letters and articles to the Manitou Messenger and other publications to educate students and staff about the different aspects of the environment and local natural history.
  • Organizing tree plantings and other restoration activities on campus.
  • Creating environment educational opportunities for the community.

The Student Naturalists for the 2014-15 school year are Karly Boll, Nora Flynn, Sonja Helgeson, Katie Myhre, Kate Seybold, and Martha Sudermann.

SONY DSCKarly Boll – I am a junior biology major from Mound, MN. I grew up on Lake Minnetonka, so my passion for nature and wildlife began at an early age. I spent most of my days digging in the dirt and wading in the lake, so I always knew that I would want to study biology in college. I am currently pursuing a career in regenerative medicine and stem cell research, however after a trip to Costa Rica to study tropical ecology and sustainable land use, I discovered a passion for preservation and responsible land use. I hope to be an advocate for sustainability throughout my life and I aim to fulfill this goal here at St. Olaf through my position as a student naturalist by educating students, children, and community members about taking personal initiative in maintaining sustainable practices and learning how to enjoy and appreciate the natural world around us.

flynnnNora Flynn – I am a senior majoring in biology and I am especially interested in biotechnology. While studying abroad in New Zealand in the spring of 2013, I had the opportunity to take a plant biotechnology class that has peaked my interest in the methods used affect plant growth and development. Having grown up in Northfield, Minnesota, the St. Olaf Natural Lands and Carleton Arboretum were my playground, a space for make-believe adventures and exploring from a very early age. Now the Natural Lands have become a place for quiet refuge and environmental learning. I spend my summers leading wilderness trips in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area of Northern Minnesota and Quetico in Canada for Camp Widjiwagan. It is a fantastic way to foster a relationship between young people and their environment. I strongly believe that any motivation to preserve the environment stems from personal experiences and connections to natural places. As a student naturalist, I hope to enable these kinds of relationships between the St. Olaf and Northfield communities and our Natural Lands.

helgesonsonjaSonja Helgeson – I am a senior biology and environmental studies double major from Andover, MN with a nerdy passion for birds. My love of the outdoors began as a child climbing along the rocky shores of Lake Superior and backyard birdwatching with my mom. At St. Olaf I’ve come to deeply know and appreciate the Natural Land’s restored prairies, forests, and wetlands through biology and environmental studies classes, summer research with Professor Shea, by attending student naturalist events, and through my own explorations of the lands as a refuge from the busyness of college life. I enjoy working on and sharing the Natural Lands because I believe they are a critical reminder of Minnesota’s natural heritage and a safe-haven for native species, but also as a source of wonder that people of all ages can enjoy. My favorite project is monitoring our 64-box bluebird trail each spring, and knowing we are making a difference for a species that once faced rapid population decline. I’m excited to continue growing and sharing my knowledge of the Natural Lands with the St. Olaf and Northfield communities in my second year as a Student Naturalist.

myhrekateKatie Myhre – I am a junior double-majoring in biology and environmental studies. Growing up in rural northern Minnesota instilled in me an affection for natural spaces and curiosity about the many ecosystems within them. From picking princess pine for making wreaths with my grandma during the winter to canoeing down the river in my backyard, I have appreciated how unique Minnesota is in its incredible range of spaces and activities for those who love the outdoors. Though I grew up in an area characterized by slightly different scenery than the Natural Lands, it didn’t take me long to fall in love with the beautiful landscapes in Northfield. I am excited to serve as a Naturalist this coming year and learn along the way about the ecosystems within the Natural Lands and beyond, as well as sharing my own experiences with others. After spending a summer working for the invasive species program for the Minnesota DNR, I have learned that at the heart of conservation efforts there is a deep affection for our beloved natural spaces in Minnesota. Their protection relies on our connections with these natural spaces, and I’m excited to further my own connection as well as facilitate the opportunity for other students and community members to do the same. We invite you to follow your curiosities with us this year and join us in protecting the land we are so lucky to have been passed down!

seyboldKate Seybold - I am a senior studying biology and environmental studies. Growing up in north central Wisconsin, I was raised with a respect and admiration for Mother Nature. I can remember family camping trips on Lake Superior, long walks with my forester-grandpa, cross-country ski trips, and many summer nights spent under the stars at Camp Wise Spirits. I grew up appreciating the environment around me, thanking the Earth for what it generously provides us.  Looking back, it seems natural that I pursued environmental studies and biology in college, but when I arrived at St. Olaf I simply followed the path that most intrigued me and seemed meaningful for the future. Since arriving at St. Olaf, my love for the outdoors has swelled to an even deeper appreciation and fascination for the natural world around us. Through my diverse courses and my semester abroad in India, I’ve come to realize just how interconnected we are to the land and life around us. The complex and intricate relationships that exist within the natural world around us captivate me. I am particularly interested in pursuing a career in sustainable food production and local food system, but also believe firmly in being a steward for our planet and our home in any and every way possible. With that said, I am thrilled to be a student naturalist! I look forward to sharing my passion for the beautiful environment surrounding our campus, passing on my knowledge of biology and environmental science, learning from my peers, and fostering a strong community around sustainability and environmental awareness.I am a senior studying biology and environmental studies. Growing up in north central Wisconsin, I was raised with a respect and admiration for Mother Nature. I can remember family camping trips on Lake Superior, long walks with my forester-grandpa, cross-country ski trips, and many summer nights spent under the stars at Camp Wise Spirits. I grew up appreciating the environment around me, thanking the Earth for what it generously provides us.  Looking back, it seems natural that I pursued environmental studies and biology in college, but when I arrived at St. Olaf I simply followed the path that most intrigued me and seemed meaningful for the future. Since arriving at St. Olaf, my love for the outdoors has swelled to an even deeper appreciation and fascination for the natural world around us. Through my diverse courses and my semester abroad in India, I’ve come to realize just how interconnected we are to the land and life around us. The complex and intricate relationships that exist within the natural world around us captivate me. I am particularly interested in pursuing a career in sustainable food production and local food system, but also believe firmly in being a steward for our planet and our home in any and every way possible. With that said, I am thrilled to be a student naturalist! I look forward to sharing my passion for the beautiful environment surrounding our campus, passing on my knowledge of biology and environmental science, learning from my peers, and fostering a strong community around sustainability and environmental awareness.

sudermannmarthaMartha Sudermann – I am a senior biology and religion double major. I am interested in plant biology. I would like to explore the ways that plant breeding and the study of plant diseases can help support local and sustainable food systems. My classes at St. Olaf have also prompted me to puzzle over whether studies of science and religion need to be at odds with one another. As a Northfield native, I have spent many hours exploring the natural areas around St. Olaf. There is a comfort in returning to a landscape that is transforming with the changing seasons. As a student naturalist, I am excited to continue my exploration of the natural lands through study and restoration of the natural lands. I especially look forward to teaching others about the beautiful lands around our campus.

 

 

 

For more information on the student naturalist position at St. Olaf College, contact Dr. Kathleen Shea (sheak@stolaf.edu).