Fire and melody: SJU junior Carter Scheele follows diverse paths

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October 22, 2019

By Frank Rajkowski

Carter Scheele fighting fire
Carter Scheele

Carter Scheele has never been one to confine himself to a singular set of interests or activities.

Rather, the Saint John’s University junior has always been motivated to follow concurrent, but diverse paths.

And in Collegeville, he has found a place where his respective trails can converge.

“This is a very welcoming place,” the St. Cloud native said. “All the people here are extremely friendly and kind. I’ve felt very supported in everything I’ve done and that means a lot to me.”

Scheele has done a lot – both on and away from campus. He is a double major in environmental studies and music – both areas of focus that have been important parts of his life since he was a child.

He plays viola in the CSB/SJU orchestra, and is also a member of the St. Cloud Symphony and the Amadeus Chamber Symphony which rehearses at Saint John’s under the direction of CSB/SJU music professor Axel Theimer.

But his passion for the outdoors has also led him to a position with the U.S. Forest Service, where for the past three summers he has been on the ground in various states in the western U.S. fighting forest fires.

“I’m part of a 20-person crew,” said Scheele, who spent this past summer in Oregon and Washington. “And we work directly on the fire’s edge. What we do varies depending on where we are and what tools we have to use.

“But we do things like using a chainsaw or other hand-tools to create firebreaks. Essentially, our job is to engage the fire on the ground so that aircraft can fight it from above.”

Amazingly, his resume does not stop there. At Saint John’s, he is also a member of the Nordic ski club team and is involved in the Peer Resource Program.

Previously, he has also served as a member of the campus fire department.

But so much of that would not have been possible if not for scholarships.

Through Saint John’s, he’s been awarded the Bailey Environmental Studies Endowed Scholarship, the Dean’s Scholarship, a Saint John’s Grant and a Music Scholarship. He’s also received an outside scholarship from the Central Minnesota Arts Board.

“Were it not for scholarships and financial aid, I would not have been able to attend Saint John’s,” said Scheele, who was home-schooled through his senior year of high school.

“And I would have missed being part of this sense of community, and belonging to a really unique and high-quality place.”

Faculty members who have worked with him during his time on campus say Saint John’s would be poorer without his presence.

“The mix of experience and maturity he brings is really impressive,” said Derek Larson, the chair of the Environmental Studies Department at CSB/SJU.

“He’s so disciplined. He’s involved in many things that are very demanding. But he’s able to find time for it all, and that’s really a testament to his passion and work-ethic.”

“Carter is a remarkable student and a remarkable human being,” said David Arnott, the chair of the Music Department at Saint John’s and Saint Benedict, who gave lessons to Scheele in high school and helped recruit him to SJU.

“He is socially conscious, dedicated to making the Earth a better place, adept at creating beauty through music and is able to keep mind, body and spirit humming along in total harmony.

“He is able to balance his variety of interests by being extremely organized and aware of what he intends to accomplish. He multitasks well and juggles well enough to bring every project he begins to a logical and successful conclusion.

“Carter is exactly the kind of Johnnie all should strive to be.”

Scheele took a year between high school and enrolling at Saint John’s to serve a term with the Conservation Corps of Minnesota and Iowa. That, in turn, helped lead to his present role with the forest service.

After graduation, he hopes to continue working in environmental/outdoor leadership in some capacity.

Though he said music will always play a key role in his life as well.

“My life would be less fulfilled if I didn’t have both sides of me,” he said.

“At the end of the day, and at the end of the year, I need both in my life to be happy.”