Wolf Ridge Graduate Naturalist (Certificate in Environmental Education and Sustainability)


Wolf Ridge Graduate Naturalist (Certificate in Environmental Education and Sustainability)

Program Overview

Wolf Ridge offers work experience combined with regular evaluation and graduate level coursework in collaboration with Antioch University New England - designed to help you grow as an experiential educator and naturalist. Wolf Ridge alumni continue to teach and lead the field of environmental education all over the world in formal classrooms, at state and national parks, in nature centers, zoos, museums, organic farms, and as artists and adventurers.

This is a 10-month program from late August to Mid June that culminates in a graduate-level Certificate in Environmental Education and Sustainability, with 12 transferable graduate credits. The total cost for the program is $250 per credit and includes a private room in our sustainable staff housing and meals in our dining hall. Work study opportunities are available to offset the out of pocket price. 

Graduate naturalists teach an average of 6 half-day classes a week, attend graduate seminars, live and learn in our sustainable staff housing, and explore our 2,000 acre campus while learning how to be better educators, live in community, and co-teach with the natural world.

Teach at Wolf Ridge

You will teach from a diverse array of content and participate in training for key competencies. Teaching includes exploring our 2,000 acre campus with students during 3-hour long classes, giving evening program presentations to 200+ students, doing virtual field trips, and acting as a liaison to visiting schools to make sure they feel welcome on campus. You will work daily with participants of all ages, social backgrounds, physical and mental abilities, and personal interests. You will learn how to foster nature connection through outdoor, hands-on, experiential learning in all weather conditions.

An average week consists of six half-day classes from Monday through Friday, plus an average of one weekend a month. The classes cover topics in natural history, cultural history, and adventure education. Your students from visiting schools will typically range from fourth grade to 12th grade. This is a residential (total immersion) learning program designed so that you will learn from practice - teaching, exploring, and living in community.

Earn Graduate Credits

The graduate-level Certificate of Environmental Education and Sustainability, managed by both Wolf Ridge and Antioch University New England, serves as the core of our program. At the end of your time at Wolf Ridge, you’ll leave with 12 graduate credits that can be applied toward a Master's program at Antioch University New England or any other program in the nation that accepts transfer credits. The graduate courses include:

  • ESC 5501- Community Ecology of Lake Superior 
  • ESE 5470- Environmental Education Methods
  • ES 6960- Environmental Education and Sustainability Internship 
  • ESE 5020- Foundations of Environmental Education

Everything you do here is connected to a credit. Whether you’re teaching, attending a seminar, or walking through the woods looking at plants, you’re receiving credit. Seminars and course work may include bird banding, plant identification hikes, reading about current education research, discussing equitable learning environments, tapping maple trees, practicing place-based education, lynx tracking in the national forest, and exploring local food systems. You will explore both theory and practice combining a rich understanding of the psychological needs of students and theoretical aspects of pedagogy with real-life experience. The entire program is interdisciplinary and will put you in direct contact with professionals in education, wildlife management, storytelling, business administration, organic farming, live animal care, and more.

Live in Community

Our community consists of 11 professional naturalists with an average of nearly 20 years experience, 5 graduates remaining for a second year learning how to run the business of Wolf Ridge and acting as mentors for incoming graduates, and 16 new graduate naturalists (like yourself) with experiences from all over the map.

Housing is provided in the Lakeview Staff House. The house was designed to Living Building Challenge standards - a building certification program, advocacy tool and philosophy that defines the most advanced measure of sustainability in the built environment possible today. The building was also designed to facilitate community building and create spaces for intentional interactions.  

Housing amenities:

  • Private room with a XL twin bed, desk, and dresser with hanging storage.
  • Large shared kitchen with 3 stoves and a commercial fridge.
  • Multiple common areas with a pellet stove and projector for movie nights.
  • Full laundry facility in the building.
  • Large basement with extra furniture and ample storage space. 
  • A back deck with an amazing view of Lake Superior!

Meals are provided in our dining hall when schools are on campus, and some food staples are supplied for the house for community meals on weekends. In the fall this includes fresh veggies from our organic farm, and in the spring we start to grow microgreens as we wait for the snow to melt. Compost from the house and from prep in the dining hall is sent down to the farm to complete the cycle.

Other Details

The program runs from late August 2024 to early June 2025. Scholarships through Wolf Ridge and Antioch University New England bring the cost per graduate credit down to $250, for a total out of pocket cost for the graduate naturalist tuition is $3,000. Naturalists receive a private dormitory room, meals when schools are in residence, all necessary materials for teaching and learning, and scholarships from Wolf Ridge and Antioch University New England. Applications are reviewed on a rolling basis February-April for the fall cohort.

Work study is available to help offset costs at a rate of $13.50 per hour. 

Housing in our on-site sustainable staff housing is provided at no extra cost. Graduate students each get their own bedroom. Meals are provided in the dining hall when schools are in residence, and some food staples are provided for the house. Graduate students have access to trails and lakes on campus, as well as outdoor recreation equipment like canoes, snowshoes, and cross country skis. 

For more information visit: wolf-ridge.org/programs/educators/naturalist/

To apply fill out an application here: https://wolfridge.campbrainstaff.com/

Contact Shelby Roback shelby.roback@wolf-ridge.org for more information or any questions you might have. We look forward to meeting you!