Friday, February 27, 2009

New Faces

Hi everybody,
My name is Sam and I am a freshman at Northland College who is working with Stacy on the LoonWatch program. I’m a pre-vet student majoring in biology and minoring in chemistry. Since Stacy is so busy now, what with the 2010 5-year loon survey coming up fast and the annual lake monitoring starting in mere months, I’ll be taking over for the easier things in LoonWatch, like updating this blog. I hope I can keep you as entertained and informed as you are used to.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Tribute to Sigurd T. Olson

Tribute to Sigurd T. Olson
Sigurd T. Olson, long-time resident of Alaska and renowned wildlife biologist, passed away at the Juneau Pioneers Home on December 21, 2008. He was eighty-five years of age.
Olson was a pioneer loon watcher. His 1952 research paper with co-author William H. Marshall, “The Common Loon in Minnesota,” continues to be cited as one of the premier baseline reports on the species. In the foreword to Tom Klein’s Loon Magic, Olson reflects on his early research: At that time, information concerning loons was scant and fragmentary at best, and almost everything I discovered was new and exciting. In combination with his scholarship, it was his vibrant attitude that made Sigurd T. Olson’s work influential. It’s well documented that those that met Olson never forgot him.
Sigurd was born in Ely, Minnesota September 15, 1923. He was the eldest son of Sigurd F. Olson-- internationally famous conservationist, writer, biologist, and the namesake for the Sigurd Olson Environmental Institute (SOEI) of Northland College where the LoonWatch program is based.
Before studying loons, Sigurd T. Olson was a combat veteran of WW II, and served in the US Army Mountain Ski Division. He was serving in Italy at the time of the liberation of Italy from the dictatorship of Benito Mussolini.
Sigurd and his wife Esther moved to Alaska in 1959. He worked as a biologist for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and later with the U. S. Forest Service (USFS). He served as Director of Wildlife and Sport Fisheries programs with the USFS, and served on the state-wide team evaluating all of Alaska's lands for Alaska National Interest land designations. Olson was an avid downhill skier and was an active leader in the development and operation of the Eaglecrest Ski area.
For his contributions of scholarship to loon research and natural history, in 1986 the LoonWatch program named their new grant program the Sigurd T. Olson Loon Research Award. The award is for original research that leads to better conservation for loons and their habitats. To date, this has provided more than $32,000 that has funded remarkable work such as developing the methods for color-banding loons, which has made it is possible to undertake in-depth studies for behavior, territory, life span, migration patterns, and mercury studies.
Sigurd T. Olson had an impenetrable spirit that resonated in his work and that kept him skiing and hiking long into his retirement. He leaves an enduring legacy from his efforts in research and conservation to all who work with and enjoy loons.
For more information go to: