The Steger Center has created transformative experiences for students for over 50 years, transmitting skills in an atmosphere of respect for each other, support staff, and the surrounding environment. This summer it is expanding its unique School of Sustainability programming, opening doors for adults to learn viable, job-ready skills while reconnecting with nature.

Courses run one or two weeks, depending on the subject matter and project complexity. Enrollment is limited to accommodate a tight student-instructor ratio for maximized learning and hands-on experience. The courses cover a wide range of construction techniques and foster skills that will empower participants to expand their career options or simply gain confidence in applying their learning to their own projects with cabins, homes, or overall lifestyle. A number of women-only courses are being piloted, with the intention of providing a supportive environment for students to learn and practice skills that may be new and unfamiliar.

The list below covers topics, instructors, and number of available student openings. Tuition for all courses is $900/week, which includes meals and rustic accommodations on the extraordinary grounds of the Steger Center, located just north of Ely, Minnesota.

Important note: Registration information will be provided soon. Check back here or follow us on social media for updates! 

July 10-16 – Women’s Timber Framing

    • Taught by Jenna Pollard
    • Capped at 4 students

July 10-16 – Stone Masonry, Foundations, and Walls

    • Taught by Aurora Walhstrom
    • Capped at 4 students

July 10-16 – Glass and Wood: A Paradigm in Stain Glass Construction

    • Taught by Nolen Sherman
    • Capped at 3 students 

July 17-30 – All Women’s A-Z Log Cabin Building

    • Taught by Nolen Sherman
    • Capped at 4 students

July 17-30 – All Women’s Stone Masonry, Walls, and Walkways

    • Taught by Aurora Walhstrom
    • Capped at 4 students

July 17-30 – All Women’s Fine Woodworking

    • Taught by Hans Mouritzen
    • Capped at 3 students

July 31-August 6 – Glass and Wood: A Paradigm in Stain Glass Construction

    • Taught by Nolen Sherman
    • Capped at 3 students

August 7-20 – Build a Pizza Oven and Learn Stone Masonry

    • Taught by Ian Mckeil and Aurora Walhstrom
    • Capped at 8 students


Paid Positions Available – Apply Today to Be Part of the School of Sustainability

The Steger Center seeks hard-working, dedicated staffers for paid summer work opportunities. Great for college students, teachers, or anyone looking for a rich summer experience. The center is currently seeking:

  • Documentarian: This position is an intern-level opportunity for a person who can help capture video, photos, and stories to help tell the story of the School of Sustainability to the world. This role is needed for July and August 2022. 

Media Release
The courses listed above and participants will be filmed and photographed. All students will be asked to sign a media release prior to the start of the course.

Course #1 for 2022: Women's Timber Framing

Taught by and for women, in an inclusive, creative setting.

• When: July 10-16, 2022
• Where: Steger Center, Ely, MN

The first course in the School of Sustainability series provides hands-on skill development specifically for creating post-and-beam frames, essential for wilderness building projects.

  • One-week tuition: $900
  • Includes meals, rustic Steger Center accommodations, on-site coursework and construction with up to four students total.
Apply Today


Nolen Sherman spent two years living and working at the Steger Center, where she learned framing and finished carpentry, log-cabin building, and wood-and-stained-glass construction. She has five years’ experience building dovetail cabins and is currently employed as a finish carpenter in the Twin Cities. Nearly all the stained-glass windows on the Steger Center campus were built by her.

Jenna Pollard discovered timber framing in 2010 while studying homestead skills at DreamAcres Farm in southeastern Minnesota. Since then, she’s assisted on numerous timber frame projects and raisings, built herself an off-grid cabin in rural South Dakota, and started teaching workshops to share these skills with others. Her preference is for utilizing traditional techniques and primarily using hand tools, but she appreciates modern tools and new technology that have become a staple of the craft. She currently resides in Finland, MN, and offers timber framing workshops throughout the year.

Aurora Wahlstrom has practiced stone masonry for nearly a decade. She was 13 when she first visited the Steger Center, and has learned, worked, or taught there nearly every summer since. She trained under three master stonemasons (with over 100 years’ combined experience), and most recently has been practicing stonework in San Luis Obispo, California. She currently works as an arborist and stonemason and is pursuing a yoga instructor license.

Hans Mouritzen is a furniture maker by trade. He learned his craft in the traditional way—a three-and-a-half-year apprenticeship—in his native Denmark. In 1978 he immigrated to the United States, and within a couple of years opened Danish Woodworks, a custom furniture shop. For 20 years he operated this small business, honing his skills in all phases of furniture making, from design through selection of materials to building and finishing. Using both solid woods and veneers, traditional tools and modern machinery as appropriate for the application, he created furniture of quality, utility and lasting beauty. Since his first visit to the Steger Center in 1994, he has had a big hand in conceiving, creating, and building much of the furniture there.

Ian McKiel has been actively practicing stonework and masonry for over 20 years and is always seeking the balance between beauty and function. After earning a bachelor’s degree in environmental design from the University of Minnesota, he apprenticed under master stonemason Jim Sullivan (who has taught at the Steger Center for the past 16 years) and learned the medium of stone and brick. Since launching McKiel Stoneworks he has been involved with many projects, including bread ovens, fireplaces, outdoor kitchens, and historic restoration. He has helped guide and teach masonry projects at the Steger Center since 2013.