Alumni Testimonials

Piper GrubbFrom exploring the wilderness to building unexpected friendships, there is never a dull moment during a sojourn to Coe's Wilderness Field Station. Before taking a class at the Wilderness Field Station, I did not know a lot of information about the location or the people who make the classes possible. I made the decision to go only having read the course description and a desire for an outdoors adventure.

Traveling in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area wilderness, swimming through waterfalls, roasting s'mores, and watching the Northern Lights are just a few of the best experiences in a special location like the Wilderness Field Station. It is difficult to put into words what a wonderfully independent and life-changing experience a month up North entails. I learned more in one month than I could have ever dreamed. Wilderness provides the world's grandest breath of fresh air, and these are memories which I will cherish for a lifetime.

"Our ability to perceive quality in nature begins, as in art, with the pretty. It expands through successive stages of the beautiful to values as yet uncaptured by language" - Aldo Leopold

- Madeline "Piper" Grubb '17, Music and Psychology Major


Kristen Granata on portage

"I would recommend taking a class at the Field Station for those who love camping. With that being said, I would also recommend taking a class at the Field Station to those who have never camped before. The Field Station does an excellent job of preparing students for all the canoeing and camping that they will do. Having such a small class size not only allows students to receive one-on-one attention from professors but bonds students in a way I've never experienced. I still talk to the students from my class on a normal basis and I know we will still stay in touch years from now. The experiences I had with them are ones I will never forget. From the good (reaching the end of a long portage) to the bad (falling down in the mud with two Duluth packs on), they will always be memories that make me smile.

Ornithology itself was a phenomenal class. I'm a huge bird nerd now and listen to my surroundings all the time to identify bird songs! The class taught me not only about birds but also that I should always be conscience of my surroundings and appreciate the beauty of nature. Taking a class at the Field Station gave me the opportunity to learn in an unconventional way and taught me more than sitting in a classroom ever could."

- Kristen Granata '18, Ornithology '15


"The Field Station is addictive. From my first week there participating in Coe’s Freshman Orientation in the Wilderness, to returning as a guide for the Freshman Orientation program, to returning yet again to take Environmental Law, I’ve never been able to resist a week or more in this gem of Coe’s off-campus opportunities. It’s impossible to take everything in that you can in this little northern outpost of Coe campus. Whether it is a loon call while you’re lying in your sleeping bag, an hour listening to Harlow talk about the local tree species, a dip in the swimming hole, or a late-afternoon paddle on a lake with waters so still you think you’re gliding across a dream, the Field Station should be a necessary part of any student’s curriculum. It is not only a few weeks spent “roughing it,” it is a lesson on an alternative way to live, one that doesn’t depend on text messages, bottled water, and microwaveable dinners. In a materialistic society such as ours, we need to take time to step back. It may be uncomfortable (especially when you’re low on bug spray), and for some this can be overwhelming. Whether a person wants to return or not, doesn’t matter. What’s important is making this inquiry in the first place. A liberal arts education is all about asking questions, exploring different view points. The Field Station is a view point unto itself, and every student should take it upon themselves to explore it to the best of their ability. It’s unforgettable."

- Johanna Schnell '09, Political Science Major


"What a delight to discover that the station is not dead as I had feared! Thank you for taking it on as a Coe College Station when ACM decided to drop it. I'm an alum of its first two years of existence, back when it was on Basswood Lake and 'Coach' Drexler was director. It was the seminal educational experience of my life. It permanently changed my course from medicine to field biology and it forever colored my concepts of the best pedagogy."

What did I learn at that station?
From the land: Humility
From Coach: How to key a plant. 
From my fellow students: Introduction to existentialism!

I also had the privilege of meeting Sig Olson, Grace Lee Nute, and F. B. Hubachek--paddling with Coach, learning to sketch with Jo Drexler, and identifying fungi with Isabel Ahlgren. 

If ever there's anything I can do for the station, let me know. I work as a conservation biologist, but teach natural history to non majors at Metropolitan State University and environmental humanities to Graduate Liberal Studies students on the side.

It is so good to know that generations of students still have the privilege of living and studying at the station."

- Nancy Sather (it must be 1962 and 1963!)


"I learned how to pack, paddle, and portage, not to mention stay smiling through three days of rain."


"The canoe trips gave us a sense of the place we are in. Without them we might as well be at our home universities. It was the best part of the course as far as education and group development."


"There is a certain learning experience unspoken when lugging an 80 lb. canoe on your head."


"The trip was a great way to become completely engulfed in the true aspects of the course. The trip was one of the most rewarding experiences of my life."


"Because of this program, I've learned to appreciate nature to a higher degree. I've realized the importance of maintaining the remaining wilderness areas. Civilization is nice, but our mocha lattes and Volkswagen Beetles can't really compare to the awe-inspiring yet simplistic virtues of nature."


"I really gained a sense of how removed from natural environments we are in our society. As with every experience in nature, I appreciate it more and see it as an important thing to preserve."


Maybe the next quote will be from YOU!