Minnesota WolfLink

Project Details by Fiscal Year
2011 Fiscal Year Funding Amount
Fund Source
Environment & Natural Resources Trust Fund
International Wolf Center
Recipient Type
Non-Profit Business/Entity
Start Date
July 2010
End Date
June 2013
Counties Affected
Project Overview

Wolves are an important part of Minnesota's ecosystems and natural history. Minnesota is one of the only places in the lower 48 states where wolves were not completely eliminated by the 1970's and the state has been at the center of wolf population recovery and range expansion ever since. Because of people's widespread interest in wolves, they also provide an important vehicle for educating about nature and the environment. The International Wolf Center in Ely will use this appropriation to expand an educational program to an additional 2,500 students that utilizes wolves as an interdisciplinary educational tool for K-12 students, their teachers, and others throughout Minnesota. The program uses live, interactive distance learning through video conferencing in conjunction with on-site kits to bring wolves directly into the classroom.

The project funded:

  • 118 live interactive video broadcasts from the International Wolf Center in Ely, Minnesota to inner-city, suburban and rural schools throughout Minnesota.
  • Two new loan boxes. These boxes are shipped to schools in advance of the broadcast. Each box contains: Wolf pelts, claws, teeth, scat, bones of the wolf prey, wolf related books, ink stamps, projects that they can work on and keep and lesson materials in English, Spanish, Hmong, Somali, and Braille.
  • New video broadcasting equipment. It will provide quality broadcasts for many years.
  • A portion of an educator wages and benefits. The educator has a master's degree and many years of wolf exposure and training.
  • The creation, printing and mailing of promotional materials and some promotional travel expenses.

The original goal was to offer 100 WolfLink programs reaching 2,500 students and teachers along with the wolf loan boxes to educate, engage, and promote future stewardship of the state's environmental resources. To provide translation for three languages and braille to the classroom educational materials. Also, to provide improved broadcasting technology by acquiring new technology.

International Wolf Center was able to reach 118 schools and 3,804 students, exceeding the original goal by 18 schools and 1,304 students. The 2 additional loan boxes were added and much needed due to the frequency of programs. One Minnesota school was able to be included in a broadcast with schools from Canada and Mexico, making their wolf education also a multi-cultural event with the ability to interact with these foreign students. The lesson materials are translated and opened the education to children where English is their second language.

There were several schools that were not aware they possessed the necessary technology to receive the live interactive broadcasts. After the wolf broadcasts those schools were open to Internet broadcast learning opportunities.

Minnesota tourism increased somewhat as many children brought home their souvenirs and other lesson materials from the wolf loan boxes and requested their family make a trip to Ely, where many families visited the International Wolf Center and viewed in person the same live wolves seen in their WolfLink program.

The advanced technology made available by this grant will continue to serve well for many years.

The question may be asked why this education is important and even relevant today. It is best answered by the enthusiasm displayed by the children's faces when the wolves howled or showed other wolf behavior. They learned all about wolves based on scientific based research. They were able to figuratively leave their school, via the internet broadcast, to experience the great outdoors of Minnesota, all the while learning about taking care of Minnesota's natural resources. By involving children in this educational process it is preparing our next generation to be stewards of Minnesota resources. The facts are taught in the hopes that a better informed public can be involved in making better informed public policy relative to wolves and other Minnesota natural resources.

The WolfLink programs reaching out to 118 schools has been spread by word of mouth. The original plan of having 100 interactive broadcasts was an aggressive goal at the time of grant application. Having exceeded it has shown how successful the new technology presents the materials. When a teacher in a school completed a program, they naturally shared their enthusiasm with their fellow teachers. This led to other teachers within the same school to request programs for their classroom.

Part of the marketing plan included printing of postcards which were done for less money than originally planned. The Internet and emails, which were not funded by this grant, were also used effectively to market the WolfLink programs to Minnesota schools. In all the communications credit was given to the Minnesota Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund for making these free programs possible.

The lessons plans were updated before and during the WolfLink presentations. The updating is a continue process. The split screen capability allows the teacher and the wolves to be presented on the same screen to hold the attention of the class to what is being taught. We believe that part of this program that teachers will repeat this process each year, as the cost after the completion of this grant is not cost prohibitive.

Project Details
Legal Citation / Subdivision
M.L. 2010, Chp. 362, Sec. 2, Subd. 08j
Appropriation Language

$193,000 is from the trust fund to the commissioner of natural resources for an agreement with the International Wolf Center to develop interactive on-site and distance learning about wolves and their habitat. This appropriation is available until June 30, 2013, by which time the project must be completed and final products delivered.

2011 Fiscal Year Funding Amount
Proposed Measurable Outcome(s)

Click on "Final Report" under "Project Details".

Measurable Outcome(s)

Click on "Final Report" under "Project Details".

Project Manager
First Name
Last Name
Organization Name
International Wolf Center
Street Address
1496 Highway 169
Zip Code
(218) 365-4695 x23
Administered By
Administered by

500 Lafayette Road
St. Paul, MN 55155

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