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It was a wolf, I tell you!

January 15, 2009

Several events over the past few weeks have turned my thoughts to the Wolf Ridge Environmental Learning Center.  Wolf Ridge is an environmental school located on 2000 acres above Lake Superior.  The outdoor education classes focus on ecology, science, human culture, team building recreation and personal growth. Each February, for the past six years I’ve taken a group of fourth and fifth graders up North to this marvelous place.  I have countless wonderful memories (indeed, the photo at the top of my blog page was taken  after my team successfully made hot chocolate during a Basic Survival class!).  As it happens, the fifth graders from PCCS will be up north the same week as the ARTech students are there in February.

A few weeks ago, I was up in Duluth chaperoning the nordic ski team and spotted a Snowshoe Hare next snowshoe-hareto a ski trail.   I have learned about these elusive creatures in Wolf Ridge classes, but never spotted one in the wild before.  

Then, just last weekend, I was out skiing on the farm with my son when we saw this large German Shepherd dog-like beast bounded out in front of us.  It wasn’t a dog though – Miles and I reckon we saw a wolf.  Unlikely perhaps, everyone I’ve talked to wolf_forumscoffingly dismisses our sighting as a coyote!  I’ve been in many classes about wolves up at the center – enough to know it would be unusual, but not impossible, to see one this far south.  

And finally, this extreme cold!  I love how the Wolf Ridge staff would have u tackle all activities, no matter how cold the temps up there.  I even spent one insanely cold night sleeping out in an ice hut!   You just gear up and go.   I’ve stood on a platform on the ropes course for two hours hooking kids into a harness on a day as bitter as the one which closed our school today.

Sarah, veteran of Wolf Ridge and Manito-Wish trips, is making preparations to take ARTech students on the school’s annual excursion to Finland, Minnesota.   The trip is open to any ARTech student in the high school and middle school.   I’m so glad she does this for our school, and that ARTech continues to place a high value on environmental education.  Parents, I would strongly encourage you to give your child at least one opportunity to visit this place.   The memories they will make and the experiences they will have are priceless.   Sarah is still accepting applications for the trip – forms can be picked up at the front desk or you can email Sarah with questions at     The trip takes place February 4 – 6.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. January 16, 2009 11:00 pm

    Everything I know as an environmental educator says that the range of wolves only extends to the northeastern part of the state. BUT…. I found an news article that states otherwise!
    Whaddya know?!

  2. Dori permalink
    January 22, 2009 4:04 am

    I grew up in NW MN on the plains. It makes me sad when people say the range for Timber Wolves is NE MN. I grew up with both coyotes and wolves in TRF. Black bears range through my hometown (I have cell phone video of one stalking through a wheat field from a few years ago). “Other than on the elk farms, elk don’t roam in MN anymore”–tell that to the people in Grygla, MN where an ever-growing herd hangs out. There was a large hullabaloo when I was in High School because the farmers wanted to shoot them because they eat so much corn and grain. The Mountain Lions and Lynx have made a comeback as well. Don’t get me started about the wolverines. You try telling them that they are outside their range. Experts at the MN Zoo insist they aren’t found where I grew up, but I’ve seen them, grew up with them, and learned to respect them.

  3. Lori Coleman permalink
    March 14, 2009 9:32 pm

    I said I would leave a comment and though it’s been a long time, here it is. I live a few miles away from Simon and several years ago, my husband and I both saw a grey wolf outside our living room window around 2 am when our dogs were all inside the house. It was most definitely a wolf. We have also hosted litters of bobcats some years, and our farrier once saw a mountain lion a few miles away!

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