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?
Favorite dishes to eat or cook so far?
What do you enjoy doing during your free time?
Walk around enjoy Nature; fishing
3 words to describe yourself
Fun loving, Caring, Curious
Nick Sallen is a 21 year-old resident intern from New Hope, Minnesota. He is a senior fish and wildlife biology major at the University of North Dakota and the Editor-in-Chief of The Dakota Student, UND’s bi-weekly student newspaper. This summer, Nick will be responsible for managing the website and social media accounts with help from other residents.
Nick first heard about the center through his roommate, who met Will Steger at UND during the Culture and Climate Festival. After connecting with with Will via email, Nick and Will met in Minneapolis to discuss the possibility of coming to Ely to work on the center’s website and social media.
“Will is a hard-working visionary who knows when to take the lead, and when to empower others to take the initiative. He is a reserved educator, and the world would be better off if there were more people with his personality and mindset,” Nick said.
Nick enjoys the sustainable living that is done here through the use of solar panels, well water and no motorized boats. He is excited to see the center become a place where people from all walks of life can meet to enjoy the flourishing landscapes and life around the center while discussing what can be done on a societal and personal level to limit and possibly reverse climate change damage that’s already being done.
Nick thinks the center is a breath of fresh air from the daily school grind. He enjoys the physical labor that’s done everyday during nice weather. When the weather is bad, Nick also enjoys being able to work from a computer under a roof, compared to being out in the rain.
One of the biggest challenges Nick has had to face at the center is a poor Wi-Fi connection, noting that it’s tough to get any work done when two or more people are connected and surfing the web. Nick hopes to learn more about everyone at the center, because he believes you can learn more from other people than you can from a textbook. One thing that Nick misses is his family, who will be coming up to visit over the Fourth of July.
An avid camper who enjoys spending a portion of his summer in the Boundary Waters, Nick was 13 years-old when he first visited the BWCA, where he fell in love with the land and it’s many lakes shortly thereafter. “I’m more familiar with the Gunflint Trail lakes outside of Grand Marais, but the lakes I’ve paddled through here so far are just as magnificent,” he said.
The other interns can rely on Nick for his curious mind, enthusiasm and honesty. Nick is not a morning person, therefore he was nicknamed “Mogo” which stands for morning gorrilla. During his free time, Nick enjoys running, canoeing, camping, reading and practicing card tricks. The best book he’s read is the Lord of the Rings trilogy.
Minda Nelson is a 24 year-old entrepreneurial businesswoman from Hugo, Minnesota. She finished her AS in Business at Anoka-Ramsey Community College. She will be going to Century college and is hopeful to be a U of M student someday soon.
Minda plans on building her own non-profit that works with breeding endangered species and promoting green businesses. After this summer, Minda will be starting her new role as Vice President of the Minnesota State College Student Association.
Minda is the only intern this summer with previous experience at the center. She first heard about the center through Peter Wahlstrom, her ethics professor at Anoka-Ramsey. “Peter is strict and straightforward. He’s 10 minutes late to every class, but he’s very relaxed when he comes up here,” she said.
She decided to come back this summer because of the unique community that welcomes all visitors. “Anyone is welcome here, there’s no judgement,” she said.
She remembers one of her first interactions with Will vividly. “He was telling a story and then in the middle of the story, he got up and walked away. I guess he had another thought and his train of thought on the story disappeared, so he disappeared, because he started thinking about another thing. I looked at him as scramble-minded, but he’s just got so many thoughts going through his mind,” she said.
Minda wants to work on herself this summer. “When I’m down in the cities I don’t have time to relax. When you’re up here you work hard and relax after the work day, getting into a good life balance, she said.”
She is also looking forward to putting her mark on the center through the stonemasonry and other work projects that the interns will be doing.
Minda recalls the First week here being the toughest. Getting used to the hard work everyday has been her greatest challenge. “The soreness goes away, but you also get used to the soreness,” she said.
She misses running water for dishes and family, and her toothbrush. One of her favorite dishes was the lasagna that she prepared with Nick for the rest of the interns in her second week. The rhubarb cake for Jake’s birthday was also really good,” she said.
During her free time, Minda enjoys reading and writing, hanging out with the residents and sorting through Will’s memorabilia. Interns can rely on Minda for her ambitious nature, experience, and knowledge of the center. One fun fact about Minda is that she can stick frame a house.