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Itasca headwaters rocks
Our mission and values

At Itasca Biological Station & Laboratories, we are driven by research, teaching, and public excellence as part of the College of Biological Sciences and a larger University of Minnesota system. We strive to enable research in biology, ecology and conservation science, to provide immersive learning experiences in the field, and to facilitate public engagement as a discovery-motivated facility in rural Minnesota.


We have strong connections to nature and to our community, and we are proud to curate a space for creative scientific thinking that naturally relaxes social anxiety. We value our environment, our community, open dialog, and of course, scientific excellence. We value the interactions we have with those that support our freedoms, and we value the unique backgrounds among those visiting. Our goal is to share and foster these values, irrespective of comfort level in wilderness, experience in science, funding success, citations, publications, etc. We also want Itasca to be as accessible as our resources will allow, no matter race, ethnicity, gender identity, gender expression, age, disability, sexual orientation, religion, or socioeconomic status.

We recognize, however, that there are multiple barriers that can limit who arrives at a ‘table we make round,’ particularly at a remote field station like Itasca. We know, from the collective experiences of field stations (and scientific conferences), that a remote station used to foster more relaxed social interactions is also prone to the formation of ‘in crowds’ and to slips in behavior. For those reasons, we value communication as a tactical tool for the following:

  1. Setting (and modeling) ethics, standards, and consequences,
  2. Setting staff expectations as well as demonstrating staff appreciation,
  3. Working with our State Park hosts regarding safety and park accessibility,
  4. Preparing coordinators who are in charge of user groups,
  5. Lowering anxiety for users by gauging need and facilitating accommodation, and
  6. Maintaining visibility with our home unit, the College, to avoid isolation.

In its essence, our goal is a Station that fosters freedom of thought, on-mission programming, collaboration, and scientific excellence. If a visiting student is focusing on their work and on the joy of Itasca, having overcome barriers to access, then pride and purpose will follow- for all involved. We know that from experience.