Founded in 1971, Wolf Ridge Environmental Learning Center is a private 501(c)(3) non-profit organization and was the first environmental learning center in the nation to be accredited as a K-12 school. It is recognized nationally and internationally as a leader in environmental education.
Wolf Ridge's mission is 'to develop a citizenry that has the knowledge, skills, motivation and commitment to act together for a quality environment'. The Wolf Ridge campus overlooks Lake Superior and includes 2,000 acres of forests, inland lakes, and streams.
Learning experiences at the center include interaction with live animals, two Ojibwe cultural sites, a recreated Voyageur encampment and canoe, two 30-foot rock climbing walls, two high ropes courses, telescopes, an acid rain and weather monitoring station, and 18 miles of trails.
Since 1988, Wolf Ridge ELC has implemented a variety of renewable energy sources including bio-fuel heat generation, solar arrays and a wind generator. Eighty–three percent of the facility is heated by hot water from wood fired low-pressure stoves. Future replacement of wood boilers with high efficiency wood gasification units is planned.
A wind and solar energy system which is grid-tied to improve the maintenance, efficiency and monitoring capabilities of the system. The wind generator is estimated to generate 7,635 KWh/yr (the equivalent used by an average Minnesota home). The photovoltaic array is estimated to generate 930 KWh/yr of energy. Both of these renewable energy sources mainly serve as educational tools but do provide 1/3 of the power needed for lighting and general utility needs in our 16,210 sq. ft. Science Center classroom building. Conversion of 270 florescent tube fixtures from T-12 to T-8.
Use of water efficient toilets, washable roll towels in all restrooms, low-flow shower heads and sink aerators. Buildings constructed using passive solar design to reduce the need for daytime lighting.
education and outreach
Modeling and teaching values, behaviors, and technologies that lead to a sustainable lifestyle, and promoting the concepts of conservation and stewardship.
Co-design of a software package called "Tracker", an interactive database that schools/teachers can use to track phenology changes and CO2 production at their schools or in their communities.