This article has been reposted from Dunwoody College News.

New class of Architecture students help bring previous design proposals to life

A new group of Architecture students visited the Steger Wilderness Center in August 2017 to prepare for their semester project

A new group of Architecture students visited the Steger Wilderness Center in August 2017 to prepare for their semester project

In August of 2016, third-year Architecture students were challenged with one of the program’s largest and most innovative projects yet: to design a brand new dining hall for the Steger Wilderness Center.

The venture inspired the program’s first studio course, Dining Wild, led by Architecture Senior Instructor Molly Reichert and wilderness adventurer and Center founder Will Steger.

Dining Wild

Throughout the studio, students spent their semester touring the site, working with local businesses in the culinary industry, and creating design proposals. And in December of 2016, students pitched three different design ideas to Steger.

But, the project didn’t end there. Instead, those three designs were saved for the next class of Architecture students, who were charged with turning their predecessors’ proposals into one final building design.

Same project, new students

“The second semester of Dining Wild was very interesting in that we were not starting from scratch,” Reichert said. “Typically architecture studios start with a clean slate and students can let their ideas run wild over the course of the semester. This semester required a much more rigorous and focused approach to move the design forward and respond to the client’s needs.”

With help from Steger, the new group of students spent their fall semester combining and refining last year’s schematic designs.

Students meet with Will Steger to flesh out building plans

Students meet with Will Steger to flesh out building plans

“It was good to have a starting point,” Architecture Student Jacob Larson said. “And working with Will is really interesting.

“You know what he likes and you can incorporate that into the design,” he said. “Working with your client is really helpful because you get that clear feedback.”

The process

To ensure their final design would remain environmentally friendly as well as respond to the chilly site conditions of northern Minnesota, students spent several days visiting and exploring the build site. They also received helpful information and building tips from industry professionals.

Last semester, Marvin Windows and the Structural Insulated Panel Association (SIPA) presented on sustainable methods of building and how windows and Structural Insulated Panels (SIPS) can contribute to a more efficient construction schedule.

Architecture students learn from a SIPA representative in class lecture

Architecture students learn from a SIPA representative in class lecture

Mechanical Engineer Craig Tarr—who specializes in alternative energy—also shared what mechanical systems and appliances were most efficient and ecologically sound.

Students even enlisted help from Dunwoody’s Surveying & Civil Engineering Technology program. Last spring, Surveying students surveyed the Center grounds to provide the Architecture students with necessary site information to help move the project forward.

The result

Using this information, students worked in separate groups, each tackling different pieces of the final building documents. Groups included a Drawing and Renderings team, a Material and Product Specifications team, and a Physical Model team.

Students then combined their findings and suggestions into one ideal construction plan. This plan was then proposed to—and immediately approved by—Steger and his team late last month.

Students present final proposal to Steger and his team

Students present final proposal to Steger and his team

The Center is expected to break ground later this year.

“It was fun working on a project that is actually going to be built,” Larson said. “It’s an experience I won’t forget!”

Read more about the students’ semester experience by visiting their class news blog.

See the final design proposal.

Youth Undergrowth

When the gales of this summer’s big storm blew beyond the Steger Wilderness Center, it
seemed to have trailered in its own recovery crew. A team from Summer Youth Corps (SYC)
rode in just days later to help wrangle the aftermath.

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The Summer Youth Corps with Will Steger: (back row, L to R) Laura Pratt, Will Steger, Sam Lancaster, Kristi Yang, Hannah Weiss, Charlie Reber; (front row, L to R) June Roettger and Yang (James) Deng.

SYC is a youth development program of Conservation Corps Minnesota (CCM) geared toward high school age students. It provides hands-on work and personal growth experiences in natural resource fields, among others. For many of those youth, the opportunity is their first paying job.

Crew leader Hannah Weiss is a senior at the University of Vermont where she’s studying environmental science. She described the SYC work as physically demanding. It started with basic training at base camp in St. Croix State Park along the St. Croix River. Afterward, the crew departed on what CCM calls “spikes,” a variety of environmental projects often involving manual labor. The crew was on the move, traveling to projects that typically lasted from one to three weeks.

Weiss said the crew at the Wilderness Center focused primarily on cleanup from the July 21 blowdown. They hauled trees, brush and lumber, stacked wood and lopped branches. They also cut saplings from the hillside adjacent to the lake to encourage pine growth and expose the underlying greenstone.

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SYC member Kristi Yang clears branches and brush as part of the cleanup at the Wilderness Center.

Kristi Yang, 17, lives in Brooklyn Park, Minn. She said she’s lived in a city environment all her life. But she heard stories from two friends who had participated in SYC and she decided to sign up. Other than helping her grandparents cart vegetables to a farmers’ market, she hadn’t had much exposure to manual labor. Previously, she was a cashier at a supermarket. Though the work for SYC was far different, she discovered something about herself.

“I really like it. I feel I was born to do this,” she said.

Charlie Reber, 16, is from St. Joseph, Minn. Four of his brothers have worked for SYC and one of them is currently on the staff at CCM. He said his brothers always told good stories of their experiences and he wanted to be part of it. Now that he’s had an intensive chance, he appreciates the work ethic he learned.

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SYC members Charlie Reber (left) and Yang (James) Deng haul lumber at the center.

“The hardest part for me, was the [physical] work…[But] being here is not about the work. You don’t have to be physically able to perform on the job site…Just keep a steady pace. Keep quality over quantity,” he said.

According to Weiss, the crew normally resided at campgrounds, lived in tents and used camp stoves for cooking. But she said they were living in the lap of luxury at the Wilderness Center with kitchen facilities and sleeping accommodations—with beds—in the guest house.

“They love this place. They really enjoy having access to a full kitchen because that is an incredibly unique privilege,” she said.

Weiss also explained that the SYC hiring process mindfully selects a broad range of students with diverse personalities and backgrounds. She said this particular crew really stepped up and had few complaints. “I’m very proud of them. It’s not always the case with crews.”

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The entire Summer Youth Corps crew spent hours lopping branches and cutting away saplings on the ledge wall beside the lake to encourage pine growth and expose the greenstone.

Samantha “Sam” Lancaster, 17, is from Somerset, Wis. She said she’s not a particularly social person, but intentionally joined SYC to leave her comfort zone. She didn’t know any of the other students and was nervous at base camp. She didn’t talk much at the time, but opened up afterward and she loved the work. She said the lopping sessions and time in the field allowed them to talk, get to know each other and become closer.

The Wilderness Center complex and the philosophy behind it also made an impression on the crew. Lancaster indicated an historical and physical appreciation for the setting.

 

“I like to think that I’m a little bit a part of that now, the hillside and clearing the brush,” she
said. Then she added, “I actually really like that it’s far away. You can see the stars at night.”

For Reber, the wilderness location and opportunity to work in it were second to none. “I’ve heard some spikes are weeding parking lots. Can you imagine that? So I think we’re really lucky,” he stated.

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Evening offers a chance to rest and sing around the campfire.

Each crew member noted they had stand-out moments. Reber said he was amazed at how he learned to interact well with people who were from such different places. “Everyone’s got a different story. That’s what I think I can use the most. It’s being able to work with all different types of kids and everyone’s got a different personality.”

Likewise, Yang said the teamwork will stick in her memory. But she also won’t forget the
surroundings. “I’ll take time to appreciate the little nature we have in the Cities. People [there] don’t really pay attention to it.”

Lancaster said SYC was instrumental in helping her learn about working in environmental fields. She’d like to return to the Wilderness Center for one of the summer apprenticeships. “I really like how [Will] is so forward about the environment.”

For more information on Conservation Corps Minnesota, visit online at conservationcorps.org
or call 651-209- 9900.

Story by Scott Stowell

Photos by John Ratzloff

Will, Jim, resident interns and stonemasonry apprentices pose in front of the new stone arch wall.

Will, Jim, resident interns and stonemasonry apprentices pose in front of the new stone arch wall.

Smoke billowed from old coffee cans, smudging the work site at the Steger Wilderness Center where seven apprentice stonemasons were deep into their training program. From a functional perspective, the smoke thwarted black flies and mosquitoes. Aesthetically, it offered a sensory complement to the projects at hand.

Smoke helps reduce black flies and other insects as work progressed on the stone wall that now supports the deck around the convention center. Photo by Scott Stowell

Smoke helps reduce black flies and other insects as work progressed on the stone wall that now supports the deck around the convention center. Photo by Scott Stowell

Instructor and master stonemason Ian McKiel explained that the stonemason apprentice program at the Center is specifically for job training. It’s an intensive, month-long seminar focused on stone, masonry and dry stone laying. Apprentices receive hands-on experience working with concrete and mortar to shape various types of structural and ornamental walls.

Master sone mason Ian McKiel working with Kayden Nordquist on the new stone wall under the deck of the center.

Master sone mason Ian McKiel working with Kayden Nordquist on the new stone wall under the deck of the center.

As a warm-up project, the apprentices constructed a random-rubble style sitting wall. They mixed and poured concrete, reinforced steel footing, then switched to mortar to build up the wall, capping the top with decorative bluestone. It’s a lot to learn in the first week.

The sitting wall at the end of the roman road.

The sitting wall at the end of the roman road.

“This type of work and this type of learning doesn’t really lend itself well to sitting in the lodge and going over things. So basically I get their hands moving and then talk as everybody’s moving,” McKiel said.

Assistant stonemason Mick Wirtz (right) offers a structural suggestion to apprentice Nick Sallen. Photo by Scott Stowell.

Assistant stonemason Mick Wirtz (right) offers a structural suggestion to apprentice Nick Sallen. Photo by Scott Stowell.

Their second project involved structural work under the deck that surrounds the Wilderness Center’s convention center. McKiel said apprentices constructed a stone wall beneath the outer edges of the deck that bear the deck’s weight. The wooden supports which previously held up the deck along that edge were removed. For an add-on project, the apprentices created an arch doorway at one of the storage locations within the stone wall.

Jake Potts, Morgan Durbin and Matt Wentz working together to build up the stone arch wall.

Jake Potts, Morgan Durbin and Matt Wentz working together to build up the stone arch wall.

According to McKiel, the early stages of learning how to look at stone is a matter of imagining it going into place. “When you’re setting a stone, think about the space above it… Think about the stone that’s going to go on top of the one you’re actually setting, because that stops you from creating problem spots that only a very specific stone can get you out of.”

That type of anticipation and thoughtfulness would appear to serve anyone well whether they’re stonemason apprentices or global leaders. Jess Nimmo, 23, said she participated in the program because masonry seemed like a good fit with the type of career she’s seeking. She’s worked in residential construction, done some welding and blacksmithing, and is currently employed in a custom finishing shop for products like furniture. The program increased her interest in stone masonry.

Masonry apprentices Morgan Durban (left) and Jess Nimmo enjoy some laughter while they work. Photo by Scott Stowell.

Masonry apprentices Morgan Durban (left) and Jess Nimmo enjoy some laughter while they work. Photo by Scott Stowell.

“I fully intend on going home and doing a little bit of it myself over at my mom’s place. I’m sure she would love it,” she said.

She also explained how the functional and aesthetic elements of masonry are similar to her number one passion.

“I’ll be a welder, for damn sure. That’s my dream job and I’m going to make it happen,” she stated. “I don’t just want it as a job. I would love to be able to use it as a hobby. I’ve got that blacksmithing experience…[the] more artsy form of welding, being able to form the metal any way you want.”

Milo Payne, 21, said he loved the masonry work and could do it for a lifetime. He has an interest in art and views stone masonry as art in another form.

Apprentice Milo Payne finesses mortar between stones. Photo by Scott Stowell.

Apprentice Milo Payne finesses mortar between stones. Photo by Scott Stowell.

“There are so many different stones you can choose from, so many designs and shapes,” he said.

He added that the convention center building inspires his dreams. “[It’s] phenomenal. I want to hopefully, down the road, with this experience that I have right now, build something from the ground up like this.”

Steger said the Wilderness Center is about hands-on learning and self-reliance. While apprentice programs are offered at a variety of locations in numerous fields around the world, he addressed how the Wilderness Center stands out.

“Learning to work with mortar, concrete and stone is a skill as important as learning the alphabet; it will be with them all of their lives. But the transformational power of the wilderness gives these young people opportunities to see possibilities they haven’t before,” he said.
end of june group

Payne called his time at the Wilderness Center a “fresh, exciting experience” and contrasted it to his life in Elk River, Minnesota. “Many people have to know this experience to know the difference from city life and a life of working to provide for somebody else, or provide for yourself, or just providing in general.”

Along with spending weeks in the wilderness, Nimmo said the best part of the program was being within a community of like-minded people who also accomplished basic chores such as gathering water and taking turns doing dishes. “It’s really great how everybody here works so well together. I feel like this setting definitely brings that out in people.”

The Steger Wilderness Center, Anoka-Ramsey Community College and Central Minnesota Jobs and Training Services, Inc. (CMJTS) have formed a three-fold partnership to offer the stonemason apprentice program. CMJTS is dedicated to serving young and emerging adults, up to age 24, and preparing them for the workforce. They provide employment and training services that connect young people with careers and assist them in achieving success. For further information, visit online at cmjts.org or call or 800-284-7425.

Story by Scott Stowell

Photos by John Ratzloff

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Mike DeBoer lives in Stark, Minnesota, when his summer residency as a master carpenter at the Steger Wilderness Center is over. When in Stark, Mike makes a living bartending. He doesn’t consider bartending or carpentry his career, however, because he holds a degree in Nursing from Anoka Ramsey Community College. Having graduated in 2014, Mike needs to pass his final exam and then he will be fully certified.
During his first semester back to school in 2009, Mike took Peter Wahlstrom’s ethics course to meet his general education quota. During class, Peter required all students to complete a service-learning project. There were many opportunities in the Twin Cities metro that were not of interest to him.
Then, he heard about an opportunity in Ely with Will Steger at the Steger Wilderness Center. His eyes lit up at the chance to help build the center. “I know that guy. I watched him when I was in school on the TV screens when they would broadcast his adventures and he would be on talk-shows,” Mike said.
After coming up the center a few times, Peter created the Environmental Club, and Mike was one of the first members. Since 2009, Mike has been a regular visitor and resident.
Mike thought Will would be bigger when he first met him. “You meet Will and he’s 5’8”, 140 pounds,” he said. Mike had the idea that Will would be more of a burly, lumberjack-type build. “Big guys need a lot of energy to move around, so it makes a lot of sense when you think about the harsh conditions he’s had to overcome during his expeditions with limited supplies,” Mike said.
Mike brings strong leadership, carpentry knowledge and an ability to teach well. “Being able to teach goes along with a nursing degree, because as a nurse, you’re the bridge between the doctor and the patient,” he said. “I like to take my time to teach and do,” preferring to teach a few people rather than larger groups.
One of the things that Mike is looking forward to gaining lasting friendships and building a fire escape from the third floor of the center. “There’s so much carpentry work to be done here that a carpenter could live and work up here doing maintenance and building new projects year round,” he said.
There is no one particular moment that stands out for Mike. “I just don’t see one particular thing that stands out. The little things add up to the one big collective, and that makes the whole summer experience,” he said.
Mike wishes everyone knew the center is not a resort. “It might seem like a resort at first glance because there’s a bunch of buildings here, a big center and people will come here,” he said. “But it’s our job to communicate to the public what the purpose of this place is.”
When he’s not working on carpentry projects around the center, Mike can be found in town on Tuesdays at the Ely Steakhouse playing nine-ball.

Independence Day at the Steger Wilderness Center
Story and photos by Nick Sallen
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As the morning sun rose into the clear skies, my father, brother, his girlfriend and I broke camp in preparation for our final day of paddling in the Boundary Waters. Our plan was to canoe through Pipestone Bay, Newton Lake and leave Fall Lake before noon in order to drop off our rental equipment, and head back home before the Independence Day parade in Ely.
I was dropped off at the Steger Wilderness Center and said farewell to my family. The entire weekend had marvelous weather, and today was no different. As I went up the trail to set-up my tent, I noticed specks of green, red, blue and even violet hanging from a few low brush plants alongside the path.
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I couldn’t believe my eyes, even after closer inspection! Blueberries are typically harvested towards the end of July, not the beginning. As I made it back to my tent site on the cliff overlooking the marsh in Bumtown, the density of blue and violet berries hanging from the low brushes increased greatly.
After setting up my tent, I started to collect ripe berries by the handful. Everywhere along the lichen and mossy rich rocks was thousands of antioxidant filled small berries ready to be consumed.
My mind started racing with all the new edible possibilities- blueberry jam, pie, pancake and fruit salad! Then I remembered what Will said earlier this year as we walked to collect rocks at the quarry, “In late July, this area will have many blueberries,” he said, pointing at large rocks to the east of the path.
After collecting a couple of cups of blueberries, I thought the other residents here would enjoy berries from the first harvest. So I went back to the lodge, grabbed an empty 800mL mason jar, and went up the path to the quarry.
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By this time, I had been collecting berries for over an hour and the mosquitoes had already lapped up enough blood to start a new generation of blood-sucking pests. If I collected five cups of lowbrush wild blueberries, I could give some to the community and keep some for myself. After two hours, I met my goal. It was time to escape the swarm, enjoy the fruits of my labor and relax for the rest of the day.
The sunset led to explosions of light and sound in the night sky. Shortly after 10pm, I sat up in my tent as a symphony of bangs illuminated the southern part of the sky. I unzipped my rain fly to catch a glimpse of the firework show that was coming from Ely. As I stood there soaking up the moment, I noticed fireflies glittering around the marsh. The moment was perfect.
With a handful of sweet berries, I crawled back into my tent after the show was over. This was my first Independence Day celebration away from Minneapolis, and I think it’ll be memorable for how beautiful and blue it was.
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Mitchell Bentley already has a memorable story to tell. One evening in Hobo Village, he watched as Jasper the retired sled dog was barking at a turtle as it ambled back to the lake after laying eggs in the sand. As the turtle submerged in the water, Jasper went in after it and chomped down with his jaws. But what he came up with in his mouth was a rock, which Jasper carried off shore and dropped in the sand. Then he sat down next to it watching and waiting for it to move. For Mitchell, this is just one of many interesting and enjoyable episodes that comprise his experience of the Steger Wilderness Center. He is here primarily to learn the skill of building with stone, but he loves being in nature, even if it means jumping in cold water to get clean (but only after a hot sauna). Mitchell hails from Becker, where he grew up with fellow Apprentice, Jake. On or off the job, they are inseparable and do good work. Mitchell already sees himself getting stronger both physically and mentally.

Hometown? Occupation? Other background info?
Becker, MN. Jimmy’s Pizza pizza delivery. Enjoys hanging out with friends and playing lay Lacrosse

What are some strengths you bring to the group?

Work hard and well with others. Complete the job.

What do you hope to gain or what are you looking forward to this summer at the Center?

Learning in building stone walls. Being in nature. Getting stronger both physically and mentally

Tell me about some of the interns, residents workers and apprentices
Genuinely nice people, friendly and easy to get along with

Tell me about a memorable moment you’ve experienced so far at the center
Jasper barking at a turtle then when the turtle went into the water, Jasper went after it and pulled out a rock, carried off shore 20 yards and sat down and watched it

What has been the most challenging thing for you so far?
Jumping in the cold lake to get clean – only on sauna days

What are some things you miss?
Miss family and cats. Girlfriend

What do you wish everyone knew about the center?
The Castle

Favorite dishes to eat or cook so far?
French Toast

What do you enjoy doing during your free time?
Walk around enjoy Nature; fishing

3 words to describe yourself
Fun loving, Caring, Curious

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Michael Payne goes by the nickname “Milo.” He lives in Elk River where he likes to D.J., play music, run track, fish and draw. As an Apprentice at the Steger Wilderness Center, Milo is intent on learning the craft of stone masonry, and acquiring as much knowledge as he can to one day build something like this for his own family. He greatly values the self-reliance that characterizes the Center and the way everyone takes care of each other. “There is always someone there to help. Everyone helps everyone else constantly.” Milo is a thoughtful listener who soaks up the words of Will and Johnny Ray because he values their intelligence, experience and wisdom. He has taken to Johnny Ray’s retired sled-dog, Jasper, whom he gladly watched after while the Mayor was away on a photo assignment. He got Jasper howling in response to his nearly perfect wolf howl. Milo also likes to hang with fellow Apprentice, Karl. As Milo puts it, they make a ‘power-packed team’, whether it’s on the job site, canoeing, or on the epic hike to Ely and back.

Do you have a nickname? What’s the story behind your nickname?

‘Milo’ derived from Michael

What was your first impression of Will?
Very smart man. Has a lot of wise things to say and to learn from.

What are some strengths you bring to the group?

Friendly, cool person to get along with. Very positive. Don’t jump to conclusions; search for reasons behind situations

What do you hope to gain or what are you looking forward to this summer at the Center?

As much knowledge as I can to hopefully build something like this for your family. Recreate self-sufficiency as a way of taking care of your family or anyone in need. Learn the craft of stonemasonry.

Tell me about some of the interns, residents workers and apprentices

All pretty cool. Get along well with each other. Work well with Karl making a “power packed team”. Fun to hang out with after work day. Everyone here is really positive.

Tell me about a memorable moment you’ve experienced so far at the center

Sitting down in Hobo Village around the campfire talking with ‘The Mayor’, aka Johnny Ray. Much to learn his intelligence and experience; same goes for Will.

What has been the most challenging thing for you so far?
Working the cement mixer. Fear of messing up. But I’m facing it and getting better at it.

What are some things you miss?

Nothing except hanging out in downtown Mpls. Showering daily.

What do you wish everyone knew about the center?

How positive the place is, not just a place of hard work. The hard work is very rewarding. There is always someone there to help. Everyone helps everyone constantly

Favorite dishes to eat or cook so far?

Hot ham sammies

What do you enjoy doing during your free time?

Canoeing, hiking, hanging out with Jasper

Fun fact about yourself?
An awesome wolf howl.

3 words to describe you.

Chill, Calm, Collective, Friendly, Thinker

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For Matt Wente, this is the first time he’s been away from his home in Glencoe for this long. Although he misses his parents and his cats, he is adjusting well to life at the Steger Wilderness Center. “M.C,” as he is called by the others, recounts how the first day on the job was very demanding, as Master Stonemason Ian McKiel had the Apprentices hauling tons of rock by hand. But his great physical strength allowed him to rise to the challenge. Matt appreciates knowing that he can do a trade and he also likes getting acquainted with others. He is already known for being loquacious. In his free time Matt likes to read, take naps, and talk with Johnny Ray, the Mayor of Hobo Village, whose dog Jasper is a “real live sled dog”.

Hometown? Occupation? Other background info?

Glencoe, MN. Enjoys relaxing, playing video games.

Do you have a nickname? What’s the story behind your nickname?
“Up here they call me “M.C” because some of my friends call me that, and it stuck.

What was your first impression of Will?

“A really nice guy. He knows his stuff and has an amazing outlook.”

What are some strengths you bring to the group?
Not exactly sure; came in with an open mind. Physical strength. A good talker.

What do you hope to gain or what are you looking forward to this summer at the Center?

Some physical strength. Knowing that I can do a trade. Getting acquainted with people

Tell me about some of the interns, residents workers and apprentices

A lot of joking around with each other, helps keep everyone amused and even motivated.

Tell me about a memorable moment you’ve experienced so far at the center

The first day: putting down the footing for the first wall. Listening to Johnny Ray’s stories and meeting Jasper, a real live sled dog.

What has been the most challenging thing for you so far?

Getting along well with others, not knowing how far to go with others.

What are some things you miss?
My parents and my cats

What do you wish everyone knew about the center?

How nice it is visually. Not very many have heard or seen it.

Favorite dishes to eat or cook so far?

Beans

What do you enjoy doing during your free time?

Just hanging out; going to Hobo Village, taking naps, reading

Fun fact about yourself?

Only know two people in Canada so far

3 words to describe you
Open minded, friendly, loquacious

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Karl Beachem takes a lot of pride in his work. Back home in Mora, he worked at Plastech in Rush City, and in his free time worked on cars and liked to hang out with his Dad. At the Steger Wilderness Center he is “having fun while bustin’ ass”, building walls around The Castle. Although he can do without the bug bites, he says that he is going to keep coming back until The Castle is complete. That kind of determination underscores everything Karl does, even in his off time. Because of his love of hiking and exploring, Karl made a hike to Ely and back on his day off, about 20 miles round trip, to see the wolf pups at the International Wolf Center. Because he didn’t realize that admission was not free and he didn’t bring any money, he did not get to see the wolves, but Karl didn’t complain. He was happy with the journey itself.

Hometown? Occupation? Other background info?

Mora is my homewotwn, I work at Plastech in Rush City. I enjoy working on cars, walking in the woods and hanging out with Dad

Do you have a nickname? What’s the story behind your nickname?

CK, which stands for “Crazy Karl” or “Snow Cheetah” because of my speed

What was your first impression of Will?

Interesting for all the things he’s done and the places he’s gone

What are some strengths you bring to the group?

Hard worker, have fun at work while busting ass, set example and spur others to the task

What do you hope to gain or what are you looking forward to this summer at the Center?

Coming back after the Apprenticeship. Refreshing stone masonry skills

Tell me about some of the interns, residents workers and apprentices

Get along with others, enjoy activities with other. Everyone’s nice and fun to hang out with

Tell me about a memorable moment you’ve experienced so far at the center

Seeing and then working on the Castle. A lot of Nature to explore

What has been the most challenging thing for you so far?

Bug bites

What are some things you miss?

Close friends

What do you wish everyone knew about the center?

That it’s a good place to be if you want to get away

Favorite dishes to eat or cook so far?
Hot hammies

What do you enjoy doing during your free time?
Canoeing, Walking (took a 20 mile walk on your day off), Exploring

Fun fact about yourself?

Like to work hard and easy to get along with

3 words to describe you.

Hard working, laid back, friendly

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Kayden Nordquist, who also answers to ‘Lilo’, brings a lot of good energy and a contagious smile to the Stone Masonry Apprenticeship program at the Steger Wilderness Center. Kayden calls Polk County home, where he worked in printing and fabrication before coming up to the Center. As a young adult who identifies as transgender, he revels in the wilderness community which he is now an integral and welcome member of. He reports that everyone here has left a good and lasting impression on him: “It truly is a Homestead that really brings people together into a tightly knit group.” Kayden will continue as a Resident for the rest of the summer. He aims to come back next summer as a full-fledged Resident. Kayden considers his most memorable moment so far to be looking down from the third tier of the Roman Road at the stone wall he helped build. In his free time, Kayden likes to hike, fish, write and draw. He is making the most of his experience as an Apprentice and will be Johnny Ray’s assistant photographer.

Hometown? Occupation? Other background info?
Hometown= Polk County. Printing and fabrication (quit before coming up here)
Hiking, fishing, camping, writing and drawing (likes art)

What was your first impression of Will?
Busy trying to keep the community going, down to earth and level headed. He’s calm and collected

What are some strengths you bring to the group?
Work well with others, especially in a small group dynamic. Good energy and contagious smile

What do you hope to gain or what are you looking forward to this summer at the Center?

Hopes to become a full Resident for the remainder of the summer. Currently seeking skills that will lead to future employment in trade and then come back next summer to the center.


Tell me about some of the interns, residents workers and apprentices

“They all have really good energy”, everyone here is someone I would like to have as friends, all making good and lasting impressions

Tell me about a memorable moment you’ve experienced so far at the center

Standing on third tier of the Roman road looking down at the completed wall

What has been the most challenging thing for you so far?
Handling the bitter cold of the lake and keeping the bugs out of the tent, spiders in particular


What are some things you miss?

Clean clothes and a hot shower


What do you wish everyone knew about the center?

How much of a community it is; it truly is a Homestead that really brings people together into a tightly knit group

Favorite dishes to eat or cook so far?
Jenna’s bread


What do you enjoy doing during your free time?

Hiking and fishing, exploring the castle, photography


3 words to describe you

Energetic, caring, free spirited