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.
  • Maintaining a social media presence to interest and engage the larger student body
  • Organizing tree plantings and other restoration activities on campus.
  • Creating environment educational opportunities for the community.

The Student Naturalists for the 2021-2022 year are Ivy Arden (’22), Gunnar Bodvarsson (’22), Laura Mongui (’24), Sam Ronnenberg (’22), Kirk Stewart (’22), and Anna Von Duyke (’22).

 

Ivy Arden- I am a Senior Environmental Studies major from Seattle, Washington. Until high school, I homeschooled and learned outdoor survival skills at a nature school. This unique childhood allowed me to spend most of my time romping around in the woods and playing with crabs at the beach. In this way, I became a passionate environmentalist, which has led to my search for a meaningful career protecting the environment. A few summers ago I was a camp nature instructor and had the opportunity to connect children of all ages with the magic of the outdoors. Environmental education truly is at the core of cultivating respect for the environment, which made this work very rewarding. I look forward to inspiring the St. Olaf community to get outside and appreciate the Natural Lands. I am particularly excited to foster nature connection at St. Olaf as a tool for reducing stress during this chaotic time.

Gunnar Bodvarsson- I’m a Senior Biology and Environmental Studies double major from St. Cloud, Minnesota. Growing up in central Minnesota, I have always had plenty to do in the great outdoors year-round, and as such my main hobbies are fishing, birding, Nordic skiing, and learning as much about Minnesotan ecology as possible. I work for the USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service designing restoration projects to convert cropland into native habitat, most commonly tallgrass prairies, wetlands, and forests. I have learned a tremendous amount about the practicality of habitat restoration on a nationwide scale and how critical it is that we actively engage with farmers to promote sustainable practices. I appreciate the work the NRCS does because their programs are voluntary and happen on a local scale, thus making the work incredibly engaging and enjoyable as all parties involved have a common goal. In the future I plan to continue working on habitat restoration projects through the NRCS or another similar agency as it is a key part in developing a sustainable agricultural system that is geared for our changing world. I was a STOGROW farmer in the summer of 2021. Feel free to talk to me about anything above (especially fishing), and I hope to see you out in the Natural Lands!

Laura Mongui – I am from Colombia. The love for nature is always been in myself, growing in a megadiverse country helped me to admirate the power of biodiversity giving me a reason to protect it and study conservation. Now I am a biology and studio art major seeking to spread my passion with others. I love hiking and walking in the natural lands!

 

 

 

Sam Ronneberg- I am a Senior studying environmental studies and biology from Shoreview, Minnesota. Growing up, I spent a lot of time running around at my cabin in Western Wisconsin, as well as exploring Tarpon Bay on family vacations each spring to Sanibel Island. In high school, I volunteered at the local nature center helping to teach children about the outdoors, and this summer I worked in the University of Minnesota’s Agronomy department as part of a sustainable agriculture research project. I also studied abroad in Australia and New Zealand in Spring 2020, which allowed me to explore different ecosystems on the other side of the world! The Saint Olaf Natural Lands are a favorite place of mine on campus, a way for me to relax and escape any stress I may have from classes, and I look forward to working with the other naturalists to help share the Natural Lands with the Saint Olaf and Northfield community!

Kirk Stewart- I am a Senior from Wilmette, Illinois studying Biology and pre-health. My parents raised my sister and I to love the natural world by taking us to local forest preserves, State Parks, and road trips to National Parks. I am incredibly grateful to have experienced and hiked through so many wonderful trails. In high school, my love for the outdoors spurred me to get a job at The Grove, a national historic landmark and nature preserve. There, my passion for biology flourished. I led History and Ecology tours, participated in a prairie restoration project, monitored butterfly and dragonfly populations, and extended the population monitoring to salamanders, frogs, crayfish, and aquatic insects in the wetlands. St. Olaf’s Equatorial Biology program furthered my interest in ecology and pursuing work outdoors. The Natural Lands are a beautiful place to visit, bird, and enjoy. I am very excited to be a Student Naturalist, and love to walk through nature!

 

Anna Von Duyke- I am a Senior Environmental Studies major from Hopkins, MN. I grew up traveling throughout northern Minnesota and Michigan, hiking, canoeing, fishing, and cultivating an intense love for the environment. I spend my summers camping and observing wildlife in the Alaskan tundra, working as a biological field technician for the Wildlife Conservation Society. My hope is to have a career in habitat & wildlife conservation and environmental social justice work. At St. Olaf I am a part of the Climate Justice Collective and recently traveled to New Zealand and Australia to study environmental science and cultural anthropology. My time in the Boundary Waters and around the Great Lakes has really allowed me to truly appreciate Minnesota’s habitat and wildlife and I am so happy that this campus offers a place so unique as the Natural Lands for students to immerse themselves in. It is a very special resource for education, rest, community, and conservation!

 

For more information on the student naturalist position at St. Olaf College, contact Charles Umbanhowar (ceumb@stolaf.edu).