Each year the Curator and Manager of Natural Lands chooses several students to be the Natural Lands Technicians. Natural Lands Technicians are responsible for the following:
Seed collecting from native plants
Removing invasive plant species
Participating in Prescribed Burns
Learning about land management
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The Natural Lands Technicians for the 2023-2024 year are: Emma Coen-Pesch (’26), Lexi Daniels (’25), Olivia Edstrom (’24), Fiona Kelley (’26), Jack Maurer (’26), Autumn Pozniak (’24), Lucas Pierce-Ralph (’25), Osvaldo Rodriguez (’27), Kieran Sheridan (’25), Hannah Swanson (’24), Ismail Taariq (’26), and Lucia Witzke (’27)
Emma Coen-Pesch (she/her): Hello! My name is Emma Coen-Pesch and I’m a Music and Environmental Studies (Natural Science) major. One of my favorite things to be is covered in dirt so I often find myself spending time outside. Many summers spent in and around the Boundary Waters Canoe Area have fostered in me a deep love of Minnesota. I spent much of last summer telling a bunch of Californians they didn’t know what they were missing out on in regard to the Midwest while we stomped about in the woods looking for American Goshawks. I learned a lot and am looking forward to continuing to learn more this year in the Natural Lands!
Lexi Daniels (she/her): I’m a junior environmental studies major from Big Lake, MN. My childhood summers were filled with weekends around various MN lakes and the Mississippi River, which is where my relationship with nature started. I love to get out and camp, hike, and canoe whenever I get the chance. Over the summer, I had the opportunity to do research with the University of Wisconsin Madison’s freshwater program. Continuing to learn more about nature’s beauty and complexities is something I am greatly looking forward to as a Natural Lands technician.
Olivia Edstrom (she/her): Hi everyone, my name is Livvie Edstrom! I am from Plano, TX, and am a senior majoring in ES. I love to spend time in the Natural Lands, whether it is during cross-county practice or while working as a land tech. This will be my second year working in the Natural Lands. I am super excited to get back in the prairie after a summer away from her.
Fiona Kelly (she/her): Hi!! My name is Fiona, I am originally from Portland, Oregon. I am a SOAN and Psych double major and this is gonna be my second year as a Natural Lands techie! I love anything and everything about plants, if you ever see me walking around give me a plant fun fact or quiz me on my ID skills. Over the summer I worked teaching wilderness survival skills to kids and moved my friction fire PR to 45 sec 💪. My favorite board game is called Wingspan, my favorite tree is a western red cedar, and I am stoked to be in the Natty Lands all year! Hope to see you out there!
Jack Maurer (he/him): Hey there! I am a sophomore intending to double major in Biology and Environmental Studies. I’m originally from Madison, Wisconsin; if you’re familiar, it is situated on an isthmus connected to a chain of five lakes and has broad access to many cool outdoor spaces. I have a background in woodworking and have done past research into topics such as chronic wasting disease in white-tailed deer, per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances in Wisconsin waterways, and deforestation in the Amazon rainforest. This past summer I was part of the Grossman lab here at St. Olaf observing how different conditions shape drought tolerance in several local tree species. I’m looking forward to doing what I can to help improve the Natural Lands and the campus in whatever way I can and hope to see you all in the Natural Lands!
Autumn Pozniak (she/her): I’m a senior biology and creative writing major from northern MN. This is my fourth (and sadly, final) year as a Natural Lands Technician on campus, and I can’t express enough how fun and meaningful being a natty lands tech has been to me! Growing up on the outskirts of the Boundary Waters, nature has always been my home. The Natural Lands are where I’m happiest on campus, and I’m so excited for another year of maintaining such a special place for everyone to continue to enjoy!
Shay Pierce-Ralph (they/them): My name is Shay. I’m a Junior biology and environmental studies double major. I’m super passionate about plants and ecosystems and you can find me working at STOGROW this fall. Super excited to be joining the team for 2023.
Osvaldo Rodriguez (he/him): Hei!! I’m Osva! I’m a freshman doing an Environmental Studies and Norwegian major with concentrations in French and International Relations. I’m originally from Panama but went to school in Colombia and Costa Rica. I enjoy spending time among the trees and writing poetry about nature. I also love the sea and hope to be a marine ecologist someday so I can help save our oceans and learn about all the funky critters in it. This past summer I was a field intern for a herpetologist working for the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute. I spent my time helping him research frogs in the rainforest. During our fieldwork, we saw many animals, including one of the most venomous snakes in South America, the Bothrops asper!!! In my free time, I enjoy hiking, hanging out with friends, swimming, and reading. My favorite animals are the sea turtle and the tiger. I am super excited to learn all about the Natural Lands this year!!!
Kieran Sheridan (he/him): Hey! I’m Kieran, a junior environmental studies major and second-year lands tech. I love everything and anything to do with being outdoors and I fully intend to help others appreciate the natural world and want to be in it. I love skiing (both Nordic and Alpine) and I can’t wait for the snow to fall. Over the summer I worked in Colorado with the Forest Service and I can’t wait to bring new skills to campus.
Hannah Swanson (she/her): Hello! I’m Hannah, a senior biology and environmental studies major. I’m originally from Minnesota but grew up in Tanzania, East Africa. Camping among herds of elephant and zebra is my absolute favourite thing in the world, and I hope to build a career working in conservation medicine someday. This past summer was an intern at the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center of MN and spent time caring for opossums, raccoons, and many more small wild friends. In my free time, I love to run, write, tell terrible dad jokes, and take my camera on adventures with me outside.
Lucia Witzke (she/her): My name is Lucia! I’m an incoming St. Olaf freshman from St. Paul, Minnesota. I love going on hikes and being outdoors. I’m continually fascinated by the wide variety of things nature has to offer. In fact, my dream is to travel to all of the U.S. National Parks! Over the past few summers, I have volunteered with a professional gardener who shared her knowledge of native Minnesota plants and expanded what I knew about gardening as a whole. I’m excited to discover more about the St. Olaf Natural Lands this year!
For more information on the Natural Lands Technician position at St. Olaf College, contact Director of Natural Lands Charles Umbanhowar (firstname.lastname@example.org).