Paul Schurke '77
After finishing an individualized major in journalism and natural science at St. John's University, Paul Schurke did graduate studies in environmental journalism at the University of Minnesota and worked as a science writer for many years. The year he graduated from SJU he and fellow SJU alum Greg Lais founded Wilderness Inquiry, a nonprofit adventure agency for disabled persons that has achieved international acclaim. His polar expeditions career began in 1986 when he co-led with Will Steger the historic International Polar Expedition. That resulted in a television special, a best-selling book, a cover story in the National Geographic, commendations from Pres. Ronald Reagan, and the Merit Award from the World Center for Exploration. In 1989 Paul built a Soviet-American expedition team that trekked from Siberia to Alaska in a mission of "adventure diplomacy" that led to opening of the U.S.-Soviet border in the Bering Strait. That resulted in personal commendations from Pres. George Bush and Pres. Mikhail Gorbachev, a National Geographic television special and a second award-winning book. In 1995 Paul worked with the Chinese Academy of Sciences to help China establish research programs in the Polar Regions and led the first Chinese team ever to reach the North Pole, a project hailed by Chinese leaders as a "milestone in China's efforts to become a global partner in scientific and environmental issues affecting remote parts of the world. In 1987 he co-founded with his wife Susan Hendrickson, Wintergreen Northwoods Apparel in Ely, MN, and Wintergreen Dogsled Lodge on White Iron Lake near the Boundary Waters. The business has grown to 1.5 million+ in annual revenue with 50 full time and seasonal employees. Wintergreen was selected by Outside Magazine as one of the most innovative and influential outdoor businesses of the past quarter century.
His Arctic treks have continued. In spring 2001 Paul dogsledded with Polar Eskimos through northwestern Greenland to produce a documentary film for National Geographic television. In spring 2003 NBC Dateline and the Discovery Channel premiered "The Ice Master" a docu-drama with commentary by Paul about a 1914 arctic expedition. In spring 2004, his Greenland project was featured in a cover story in Smithsonian Magazine. In 2006 and 2007 he led expeditions across the high Arctic Island of Svalbard and more recently he has led additional expeditions across northern Greenland 2008 with the Explorers' Club. His spring 2011 plans include a film project with National Geographic at "Ice Station Borneo," a floating Russian camp near the North Pole that serves as a base for climate change research.