One of this week’s featured Gusties is Scott Moeller, a naturalist who is currently serving as the Director of the Arboretum.
Ever since his childhood on a dairy farm in Fairmont, Moeller has developed a deep appreciation for the outdoors.
He completed his undergraduate degree at Augustana College where he majored in Biology because he wanted to work with living things.
After that, he attended Iowa State University to obtain his Master’s in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, where he became interested in learning about the Tall Grass Prairie Habitat.
He always had a strong passion for teaching about the outdoors, so he became a naturalist and worked for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.
In 2011, he was hired by Gustavus to be an Interpretive Naturalist and is now serving as the Director of the Arboretum.
His role is to oversee the management that takes place on this part of campus
“I do everything from planting and pruning of trees, to the gardens, to the habitat areas, management of the prairie, and coniferous woods, deciduous woods. In addition to that, the educational events such as programming with Gustavus students,” Moeller said.
The Arb also works with younger, elementary students who come for field trips, leading them on different stations to showcase the beauty it has to offer.
One of the most enjoyable events Moeller likes to host is the Annual Fall Fest, as students and members of the Gustavus community come together for a seasonal mixer.
Because this usually takes place during Family Weekend, it can be a fun opportunity to take parents and siblings to enjoy yard games, hayrides, treasure hunting, and music.
“The Arboretum is a point of interface between campus and community…it is becoming embraced by students a lot more. I’m really happy to see that students understand that it’s their space. Of course it’s home to the trees, plants, and animals, but as long as you’re respectful, you can come out here and take a nap on a blanket, go hammocking, bike or run down the trails, or use it for your studies,” Moeller said.
He wants people to use this beautiful place, especially during this point of growth in their lives; whether it is noticing the monarch butterflies or hawks that fly above, the ultimate goal is to appreciate their surroundings.
In order to fully comprehend the holistic meaning of sustainability, Moeller believes the foundation starts with a society where people are connected to nature.
It is essential to know why we must compost our food waste, so that plants and animals have a safe place to live.
He conceptualizes sustainability as a pyramid, where at the center, humanity has a compassionate love for nature.
When asked about the upcoming Nobel Conference’s theme of tackling global climate change, Moeller mentioned that we must be attentive to our own consumerism.
“Nobody seems to want to talk about consumerism. The reason why corporate America is creating environmental problems is because we are buying their garbage that they’re selling and marketing to us. We’ve all been convinced that we need this stuff because from the time we’re young, we’re conditioned to be consumers. I’m hoping that somebody talks about that at this year’s Nobel Conference,” Moeller said.
Throughout his time at Gustavus, Moeller has created meaningful relationships with many students.
He has served as an intellectual resource for people that want to immerse themselves in this “hidden gem” of the campus.
By having extensive knowledge in his field, and working with students one-on-one, he has established a significant presence on our campus.
“I have had the chance to work with [Moeller] since I was a first year, just starting my position as a student worker in the Arboretum. [Moeller] is a fantastic naturalist and invaluable mentor. He not only cares for the environmental aspects that accompany working there—such as preservation and care of the various habitats, animals, and features—but he is consistently striving to bring people to the Arboretum and to help them create a connection with these inspiring outdoor spaces. He has a great sense of humor, and is truly a joy to work with,” Senior Bri Jol said.