Outdoor U FAQ

What is Saint John’s Outdoor University?

Saint John’s Outdoor University provides environmental and outdoor education through classes, events, and initiatives with the Abbey Arboretum, Saint John’s University, and the College of Saint Benedict.

What is the Abbey Arboretum?

Saint John’s Abbey Arboretum is more than 2,500 acres of lakes, prairie, oak savannah, and forest owned by Saint John’s Abbey and surrounding Saint John’s University.

Is the Abbey Arboretum public land?

No. The land surrounding Saint John’s Abbey and University is privately owned and managed by Saint John’s Abbey. The Abbey welcomes the public to enjoy the trails and natural beauty of the land. For questions about land policies and land use, contact the Abbey Arboretum land manager, John Geissler.

How much does it cost to visit the Abbey Arboretum?

To walk around the trails, nothing! We just ask that you do so during daylight hours and respect the land. To organize a tour for a larger group (for a small fee), please contact [email protected]. If you are a preK-12 educator, please check out our environmental education programs.

Can I walk my dog on the trails?

No. Saint John’s Abbey Arboretum is a game refuge. No pets, bikes, or unauthorized vehicles are to be on the trails at any time. Review our current pet policy for more information.

Where can I ride my bike?

You may ride your bike on any paved roads or trails. You may not ride you bike on any unpaved trails since the Abbey Arboretum is a game refuge. However the Lake Wobegon Trail runs close to campus and welcomes bikes, rollerblades, and pets.

How can I hold a bonfire on campus or purchase firewood for a bonfire?

Learn how to hold a bonfire and request firewood from the Abbey Arboretum.

I have a special request for land use. Who do I contact?

If you are planning to hold a bonfire, you should follow these guidelines. For other land use queries, use the Abbey Arboretum land use request form. Contact John Geissler for questions or advice about your land use activity. Review a summary of current land use policies.

I saw injured wildlife on campus! What should I do?

Report it to SJU Life Safety Services at 320-363-2144.

Who was Father Paul?

Father Paul Schwietz, OSB was the founder of Saint John’s Arboretum in 1997. He worked for many years to formalize the education and land stewardship programming, making it possible for it to grow into what we are today. Fr. Paul passed away in 2000. You may see a memorial dedicated to him in the oak savannah.

What is an Outdoor U membership?

A membership to Outdoor U is a donation that supports our environmental and outdoor education programming for preK-12 students, college students, and the general community. Memberships also support land stewardship activities in the Abbey Arboretum. As a supporter, you also enjoy a variety of benefits, such as special invitations and discounts at most events, Sagatagan Seasons (our newsletter), and more! Your membership donation is a tax-deductible donation to Saint John’s University. Contact Jenny Kutter with additional questions.

Do I have to be a graduate of CSB or SJU to become a member?

Absolutely not. Memberships are open to everyone.

Do I have to be a member to come to events?

No, although some events are specific to current CSB and SJU college students. Members do receive discounted prices to most of our community events!

Can I work at Saint John’s Outdoor University?

We offer on campus job opportunities for students and fellowship opportunities for recent graduates. Students should check the student employment office listings for open positions. We post full-time positions on our employment page.

Can I volunteer?

We always welcome volunteers! We send emails to our volunteer list when we need help, so sign up as a volunteer today! Check out our list of ongoing projects and let us know if anything interests you.

Where are your offices located?

We’re on the second floor of the Peter Engle Science Center at SJU, in offices 203 – 213. We are generally open weekdays from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Why are there buses at the prairie kiosk?

Thousands of local preK-12 students visit the Abbey Arboretum every year as part of the Saint John’s Outdoor University Environmental Education Program. Most of these visits involve a trip around the boardwalk loop, beginning and ending at the kiosk.

What’s the story behind the prairie kiosk?

The prairie kiosk, located on the prairie just off of County Road 159, is a great place to find information about the Abbey Arboretum, or to stop from some shade in the inherently shadeless prairie! It is also the starting point for most of our preK-12 field trips that travers the 1.5 mile Boardwalk Loop.