Frequently Asked Questions

When are the NOL @ Itasca sessions held?

How do I sign up?

How many days does it last?

Medical Insurance requirement

How do I get to Itasca?

What time does the bus leave for Itasca? What time does the bus return to St. Paul?

I live near Itasca. Can I meet the Nature of Life group there?

Can I leave my car on the St. Paul campus while I’m in Itasca?

How can I get to campus from the Minneapolis - St. Paul International Airport?

How do I find the U of M St. Paul campus?

How big is the group?

Where will I stay at Lake Itasca? What are the accommodations like?

What should I bring?

How much does it cost?

What will the learning modules be like?

Are there accommodations for disabilities or other specific needs?

What if I’m unable to attend?

Who can I contact for more information?

When are the NOL @ Itasca sessions held?

The 2016 NOL @ Itasca program dates are:

  • Wednesday, July 6 – Saturday, July 9
  • Sunday, July 10 – Wednesday, July 13
  • Thursday, July 14 – Sunday, July 17
  • Monday, July 18 – Thursday, July 21
  • Friday, July 22 – Monday, July 25

How do I sign up?

You will register for NOL @ Itasca at the same time you register for orientation by completing the New Student Checklist. The New Student Checklist is available from April 6-May 27, 2016. (Please note: you must confirm your attendance at the University of Minnesota before you will be able to access the New Student Checklist.)

How many days does it last?

NOL @ Itasca is a four-day, three-night program. On the first day of your session, you will check-in at St. Paul campus at noon and travel by bus to the University of Minnesota's Itasca Biological Field Station and Laboratories. You'll stay the following full two days at Itasca, and depart for campus bright and early in the morning on the fourth day, arriving back on the St. Paul campus around 12:30pm.

Medical Insurance requirement

You must have active health insurance to attend NOL @ Itasca. During registration, you will be asked to submit your insurance information. Please contact the NOL program at nol@umn.edu or  612-625-7799 if you have any questions.

How do I get to Itasca?

You and all other program participants will travel to Itasca from the St. Paul campus on a coach bus equipped with air conditioning and a restroom. Program check-in begins at noon in the Snyder Hall/Gortner Laboratory lobby, so you should arrange to be dropped off at Snyder Hall on the St. Paul campus by noon on the date of your departure.

What time does the bus leave for Itasca? What time does the bus return to campus from Itasca?

The buses will leave for Itasca promptly at 1:00 p.m. on the first day of your NOL @ Itasca session. (Remember, check-in begins at noon that day.)

The buses will depart Itasca at 8:30 a.m. on the last day of your NOL @ Itasca session, arriving back in the Twin Cities around 12:30 p.m. that day. The bus will make two stops: first in St. Paul where you checked in for the program, and then in Minneapolis at the corner of 23rd Avenue and University Avenue near TCF Bank Stadium and the Stadium Village station on the Green Line lightrail.

I live near Itasca. Can I meet the Nature of Life group there?

All students are expected to ride the bus to Itasca from the St. Paul campus, but if you live in the Itasca area, you can make special arrangements to meet the group directly at the Itasca Biological Station and Laboratories.

Please contact the Nature of Life program at nol@umn.edu or 612-625-7799 if you need to be dropped off at the Field Station. Please note: parking is not available for Nature of Life students at the Field Station.

Can I leave my car on the St. Paul campus while I’m in Itasca?

To save you time, money, and energy carrying your bags, we strongly encourage you to be dropped off at the St. Paul campus. If that is not a possibility and you must park a car on campus, you may park in lot SC-101 on the corner of Cleveland Avenue and Commonwealth Avenue on the St. Paul campus. The cost of parking is $4/day, payable with cash or credit card upon exit.

How can I get to campus from the Minneapolis - St. Paul International Airport?

To account for travel time to and from the airport, we recommend booking a flight that arrives to MSP by 10:00 a.m. on day one of your program, and departs no earlier than 4:00 p.m. on the last day of your program.

There are a variety of ground transportation options available from MSP, including van/shuttle services, cab companies and Metro Transit light rail and bus.

SuperShuttle is one of the most frequently used options for getting to and from the airport. You must make a reservation at least 24 hours in advance. To book a reservation, call 612-827-7777 or check the SuperShuttle website.

How do I find the U of M St. Paul campus?

Check out the Map and Driving Directions page here.

How big is the group?

Each session will include about 106 first-year students, 12 faculty and 10 current CBS students who will serve as Nature of Life peer mentors. You will spend the majority of your time with a smaller group of 10-12 of your fellow first-year students, guided by one of the Nature of Life peer mentors.

Where will I stay at Lake Itasca? What are the accommodations like?

You will stay in single-gender cabins with approximately 6 - 8 other first-year students. The Itasca Biological Station and Laboratories is a research field station with modern cabin and restroom facilities similar to a state park. The cabins, restrooms, and and shower facilities are cleaned regularly, and all meals are prepared on-site by our professional kitchen staff.

What should I bring?

To ensure that you are prepared for the program, we recommend that you pack the following items. Space is limited on the buses, so we appreciate you packing only what you'll need for the program.

Linens
  • Sleeping bag or sheets and blankets
  • Pillow
  • Towel and washcloth
Clothing
  • Two pairs of practical shoes (you will be outdoors and your shoes may get muddy and wet)
  • Warm clothes, as well as seasonal wear (it can get chilly in the mornings and nights, so layers are recommended)
  • Shower shoes
  • Rain gear
  • Small backpack
  • Sunglasses/hat
  • Swimsuit (optional, but recommended)
Toiletries
  • Overnight toiletries (shampoo, toothbrush, soap, etc.)
  • Bug spray
  • Sunscreen (recommended minimum SPF30)
Miscellaneous
  • Any needed medication
  • Alarm clock
  • A couple of plastic bags for wet/dirty clothes
  • Pens/pencils/paper
  • Water bottle
  • Flashlight
  • Camera (inexpensive)

How much does it cost?

The Nature of Life series is a two-credit course sequence that you will complete during your first two years in CBS. The elements of the Nature of Life are NOL @ Itasca series, BIOL 1805/1806 (NOL - Year One), and BIOL 2905/2906 (NOL - Year Two). The U of M offers a flat tuition rate for enrollment above 13 credits. Therefore, if you register for >13 credits each semester, there will be no additional tuition charge for the Nature of Life courses.

Although the majority of the cost of NOL @ Itasca is included in the tuition for BIOL 1805, which you will take in the fall, an additional subsidized course fee of ~$250 will be added to your first semester’s tuition bill. This course fee covers the costs of transportation, lodging, and meals during the NOL @ Itasca program. All students are charged the same course fee regardless of the number of credits in their fall enrollment.

What will the learning modules be like?

With your small group of students, a Nature of Life peer mentor and a faculty professor, you will participate in a variety of lab, field and discussion experiences. Examples of modules include: "Bog Biology" (an exciting chance to study organisms in a bog environment), "Diversity of the Spineless" (a field-based look at diversity of macro-invertebrates), and "Your Genes, Your Choices" (an engaging discussion on the ethical issues surrounding the Human Genome Project). The modules at NOL @ Itasca are a perfect introduction to the way you'll learn biology in CBS - by doing biology!

Are there accommodations for disabilities or other specific needs?

The Itasca Biological Station and Laboratories is an accessible facility, and accommodations can be made for students with disabilities. Please note your accommodation needs in the registration survey and contact the Nature of Life program at nol@umn.edu or 612-625-7799 with any questions.

What if I’m unable to attend?

NOL @ Itasca is a required component of the required Nature of Life courses. If you have an unavoidable conflict with the program dates, please contact the Nature of Life office at 612-625-7799 to make alternative plans.

Who can I contact for more information?

You can reach the Nature of Life program at nol@umn.edu or 612-625-7799