Itasca Director's Report - Spring 2019

April 30, 2019

Spring is springing - the dining bell is ringing. This is a special time of year in the north woods, concluding what many call ‘mud season’ but what I call the ‘spring frolic.’ This is when sandhill cranes headed to greener fields fly over trumpeter swans settling in for summer. Barred owls’ hoots are throaty and yearning. Stray dragonflies buzz overhead, signaling an upcoming emergence and explosion. The turtles prepare for evening invasions onto dry land. The Itasca staff buzzes around the grounds prepping the Station for action. 

We planted many new programmatic ‘perennials’ that will pop up this year. We awarded three new research grants (Seed-to-Root) totaling over $200,000 to spark new research at Itasca. We got our first data from the new research land, including forest stand metrics and downed wood volumes. We have two new microbially-focused course offerings in Field Biology, not to signal some kind of ‘end to essence’ of Field Bio, but a near-term action toward a paced recovery of enrollment. Engagement continues to grow, almost as if it is self-seeding, with early whiffs of an arts program and new plug-in engagement opportunities for student and faculty visitors at the State Park and in the local community. If you come stay in a cabin, you will also notice the fine handiwork of our new carpenter Eric.

All said, things are cranking up here. There is too much action to list everything, so just come north. My energy did not wither with the new job, and instead it is leafing out, preparing for blooms…and another summer in paradise. Here we go.

Jonathan Schilling
Director, Itasca Biological Station and Laboratories