By Sierra Lammi – [email protected]
The St. John’s Outdoor University is hiring a new director to replace long time director Thomas Kroll who will retire May 1. The search for a new director is over as John Geissler has been chosen to take over for Kroll once he retires.
Geissler is an SJU graduate with a masters degree in environmental education. He has previously worked with CSB/SJU Outdoor University when it was first beginning. Geissler was also the acting director for a period of time until the position was taken over by Kroll.
Since his time working for the Outdoor University, Geissler has worked in other outdoor education program, including the Boulder Lake Environmental learning center in Duluth.
Assistant Director of Environmental Education Sarah Gainey currently works for Outdoor University and helped choose Geissler as the new director.
This position’s ideal candidates had experience in both education and land management.
Gainey describes the director as a “dual position,” both a manager of the Abbey land as well as the director for Outdoor University programs, and Geisseler has experience in both areas.
The three final candidates for the position recently came to campus to attend a few open forums. These forums were open to students and faculty alike and were designed to allow the community to get to know the candidates and vise versa.
“We heavily rely on students in our programs, and so we wanted to get their opinions on this matter,” Gainey said.
Students have always had a large part in the Outdoor University. Pearce Jensen, a SJU senior and Outdoor University student worker, attended some of the forums in the search for a director.
“The open forums were wonderful. They allowed anyone from the CSB/SJU community to come in and meet the three different candidates and ask them any questions they had,” Jensen said via email.
Kroll will be moving on after several years spent working with the Outdoor University and as the Abbey Land manager. However, Kroll will still be leading the Fall 2017 study abroad trip to Austria.
“It has been a great privilege to work here,” Kroll said. “I have worked all over, from Alaska to Germany, but working here has been one of the most enjoyable.”
“I think it is safe to say that all the student staff are sad to see Tom retire as he is simply a very genuine, wise and caring person,” Jensen said.
Both Gainey and Kroll are hopeful about the future of environmental education and land management at SJU.
“I really hope that students continue to take advantage of the opportunities that the Arboretum and Outdoor University provide,” Kroll said. “You get busy in college, but don’t get too busy to enjoy this unique and beautiful campus.”
“There are a lot of new ideas about engaging the community with the beautiful land, that brought many of us out here to SJU in the first place,” Gainey said. “Our job now is to make sure that people can continue to enjoy that land and interact with it.”