ERIKA WOLF ‘20
SELF-DESIGN MAJOR/OUTDOOR EDUCATION &
PRIMITIVE SKILLS FOCUS
Nevada City & Truckee, CA | born & raised
Erika came to Sterling knowing she wanted a hands-on college experience with a specific-focus: to develop primitive and ancestral skills and primitive education programming for youth and teens.
The path to Sterling
Erika had never visited Sterling ahead of arriving for the 2017 Fall Semester. Her admission counselor was an “awesome resource through the application process.” Erika said Sterling was “not what I expected and exactly what I expected. The dirt road to campus was confusing but in a good way!”
Following your passion
Erika’s Work Program positions have matched her interests well. She was the Adventure Coordinator last year, helping to plan off-campus excursions like canoeing, backpacking, rock climbing and hiking for fellow students. This past fall she worked as a Coyote Kids mentor for local elementary students, where they connect with nature through songs, stories and activities like fire-building and tracking. Coyote Kids is a program offered through Earthwalk, a non-profit nature education organization.
Erika’s academic pursuits also allow her to follow her passion for primitive skills education. She is doing an independent study with Tom Brown Jr.’s Tracker School in New Jersey. Faculty in Outdoor Education Josh Bossin is Erika’s advisor. Erika said that she is “fairly ambitious, and Josh is supportive of my ambition. He also thinks realistically and advises me in a practical way that still honors my vision.”
Erika is an experienced climber, and was introduced to ice climbing at Sterling as a way to still enjoy this activity outside in the colder months. Her advice to students newly experiencing winter is to “get outside as much as possible. It doesn’t feel as cold when you are out there. Even if you are not active, there are other ways to be outside besides skiing. And wear wool!” Beyond the immediate campus, Erika loves visiting Lake Willoughby, a deep glacial lake about 45 minutes from campus that is surrounded by hiking trails and climbing spots. Erika has also found a lot of value in getting to know the community around and outside of Sterling. “They are diverse, super-sweet and awesome people.”
This spring, though, Erika said she was “so excited” to be part of the Southwest Wilderness Field Semester, a field-based exploration of the flora and vegetation of the American Southwest and the physical factors such as climate and geologic history that shape the region. She will spend eighty days of remote wilderness backpacking and car camping with a small group of fellow Sterling students and faculty. Students participating in this field semester build on foundational principles of natural history and ecology through development and practice of observation, identification and interpretation skills and the keeping of a refined naturalist field journal.
Erika wants to teach after graduation, and shared that she is learning the technical skills, interpersonal skills and curricular design during her formal training at Sterling to be able to do that.