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 2019-20 year are Ivy Arden (’22), Gunnar Bodvarsson (’22), Katie Hoffman (’21), Denver Link (’21), Allie Raduege (’21), Sam Ronnenberg (’22), Kirk Stewart (’22), and Anna Von Duyke (’22).

Denver Link- I am a senior Biology and Environmental Studies major with a fond relationship to the natural world. Coming from Dubuque, Iowa, I grew up on the southwestern edge of the driftless region, and I have spent much time enjoying all that the region has to offer. The past six years I have fostered a hobby of fly fishing, and it has taken me to many places in which words can’t even describe. I spend my winters on snow while I compete on the alpine ski team at St. Olaf. Over the past couple of summers I have worked for a local soil and water conservation district and for the Iowa Department of Natural Resources Fisheries Bureau. I have gained key perspectives working with farmers and talking to the public about issues our environment faces. I thoroughly enjoy discussing environmental impacts and regulations with others to gain a more holistic understanding of problems we see today. I see the natural lands at St. Olaf as a tool to tackle the environmental issues in our world. I look forward to engaging a wide range of people within the natural environment and to discuss perspectives on the natural world.

Allie Raduege- I am a senior majoring in Biology and Music with a concentration in Environmental Studies. I grew up in Bellingham, Washington, which is between the Cascade mountain range and the Pacific Ocean. Growing up in such a rich natural environment fostered my love of nature and the outdoors, particularly anything that lives below the waves, and an appreciation for the massive trees that dominate my home region. At a young age, I set my sights on studying marine biology long term, and have been actively researching limb regeneration in sea star populations and studying the west coast’s unique wasting syndrome. The past two summers I have researched with Dr. Shea in St. Olaf’s Natural Lands in various forest restoration projects, and I am proud to be a part of St. Olaf’s strong ecology community, and I look forward to introducing many other people to the joys of the natural world.

 

Katie Hoffman- I am a senior majoring in Biology and Environmental Studies, with a concentration in German studies. I grew up in Hopkins, MN, and spent a lot of my summers in Montana, hiking and backpacking in the Beartooths. I have always loved the outdoors, and spent hours outside chasing after butterflies and dragonflies, as well as tormenting my babysitter with whatever creepy-crawlies I could pull out of the garden. The past two summers I have researched pond ecology with Dr. Meredith Holgerson. Our research took us to the natural lands, Eagan and Rosemount, MN and even to data from Washington state last summer, when we looked into community composition and stable isotopes in a number of ponds in the Chehalis River Basin. I am excited to be a student naturalist this year and hope to share the Natural Lands with all of the St. Olaf community.

Ivy Arden- I am a junior 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. Last summer 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 junior 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. Feel free to talk to me about anything above (especially fishing), and I hope to see you out in the Natural Lands!

Sam Ronneberg- I am a junior 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 junior 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 junior 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!

Kathleen Shea with student naturalists Emma Cornwell, Roz Anderson, Kirsten Maier, and Andrew Kaul.

Kathleen Shea with student naturalists Emma Cornwell, Roz Anderson, Kirsten Maier, and Andrew Kaul, Fall 2012.

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