St. Olaf Magazine | Summer 2020

Natural Lands Benefactors

The Morton and Thelma Egeland Endowment for Environmental Science

A generous gift from Paul Egeland ’65 established The Morton and Thelma Egeland Endowment for Environmental Science in honor of his parents. The endowment supports:

  • Restoration and maintenance of our natural lands
  • Faculty and student research in ecology and conservation biology
  • Sustainable agriculture practices on college-owned lands

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

The Henry and Agnes Nelson Family Endowment

Don Nelson ’50 with a prairie burn crew in 2014

The Henry and Agnes Nelson Family Endowment for Natural Lands and Environmental Science was created by Donald H. Nelson ’50, in honor of his parents, Agnes Suphammer Nelson, a member of St. Olaf Academy Class of 1912, and her husband Henry Nelson, to provide resources for active environmental stewardship of college-owned land and related academic activities. The endowment supports:

  • 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 an emphasis on ecology and conservation biology

Nelson’s gift also supports student naturalists and natural lands technicians, research students, and students studying agricultural methods and running the business of STOGROW. Nelson, a retired orthodontist, tree farmer, and dedicated environmentalist, served on the staff of Mayo Clinic in Rochester for 26 years. His siblings are Joan Nelson Bell ’50 and Richard Nelson ’52.

Governmental Agencies

The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service has played a big role in enabling St. Olaf to develop its Natural Lands. In 1993, the college received a $75,000 USF&WS/Ducks Unlimited grant to restore 50 acres of land to prairie and wetland through its Wetland Restoration Permanent Easement program. This gave the college its first and largest restored wetland on campus near Skoglund Athletic Center. (Ducks Unlimited raises money from private resources for wetland reclamation throughout North America and channels it through USF&WS.)

In 2001, the college received $250,000 from USF&WS/Ducks Unlimited to restore 100 acres into prairie and wetlands. A $20,000 grant from the private organization Pheasants Forever helped pay for prairie seed costs. The college also has received support from the U.S. Department of Agriculture through its 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.