When Wilderness Center board member Jerry Stenger first met Will Steger face to face, Steger was a little preoccupied. He was at the Minneapolis airport loading the cargo plane that was transporting him and his expedition team to the International Trans-Antarctic Expedition in 1989.
At the time, Stenger was supervisor for the University of St. Thomas television studio and had taken an interest in Steger’s expedition. Knowing that Steger was a St. Thomas alum, he contacted Steger out of the blue just prior to the expedition and asked for an interview. Steger politely declined, but encouraged Stenger to contact him when he returned.
Seven months later, Stenger got his half hour video interview. Steger later invited him to the Wilderness Center where Stenger shot video profiles for a week. Eventually, he photographed several training expeditions in the early 1990s.
“Then I just sort of became [Will’s] expedition videographer for every expedition from 1990 on,” Stenger said.
Not only was he on the front lines of expedition adventures, Stenger became a founding member of the Will Steger Foundation, now called Climate Generation, in 2005. He served on its board for six years. As the Wilderness Center developed, Stenger became a founder, too.
From a board member perspective, Stenger said he wants to see the Center fully operational. He hopes it will attract small groups of leadership-level organizations, which afford the decision-makers a transformative experience, something that allows them to stop work sessions and spend time in the wilderness.
Having observed Steger’s leadership style and vision on several expeditions, Stenger also emphasized the importance of indefinitely sustaining the Center’s focus.
“One of my biggest concerns is that the place and the environment stays [aligned] with Will’s vision, so it doesn’t become a corporate facility… Really keep the close-to-nature wilderness perspective,” he said.
Stenger, 55, lives in St. Paul, Minnesota. He owns In Tandem Inc., a media production firm where he is a television producer, photographer and editor.