Butterflyweed at Eagle Bluff

Our Mission

Founded in 1978, Eagle Bluff is a private, non-profit residential environmental learning center providing accredited education programs & outdoor adventures in the scenic bluff country near Lanesboro, Minnesota.


Through a variety of programs for children and adults, we provide transformative experiences which empower people to care for the earth and each other   Visit our Programs page »

Our History

Children need to get back to nature.. that was and is the belief of our Founder, and Executive Director, Joe Deden, a forester by education and a visionary by nature.  As Joe was studying the Forestry program in Germany, he worked along side students from schools who stayed in youth hostels.  These students were learning to care for the environment by being educated about the environment in the environment.  And it hit him— he had to make this same opportunity available to students in his home state of Minnesota.  Joe returned to Minnesota in 1978 and began working on his vision.

Finally in 1980 the vision started to become reality and we were incorporated as the “Southeastern MN Forest Resource Center” with a mission at that time to help landowners manage their forest land in a responsible, but profitable manner.  During this time, we offered adult education programs co-sponsored with the University of Minnesota’s College of Natural Resources and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. We also began research and education focused on the cultivation of the shiitake mushroom as a cash crop. It remains the most extensive research to date on growing this Japanese specialty using U.S. hardwood logs.  Read more about the Shiitake Mushroon Project »

Also during this time the Board of Directors had been wrestling with how to expand our mission to the students that Joe had originally envisioned working with.  The board decided on a “Grow or Sunset Campaign” to try take the first step by becoming a day-use nature center for students.  We received funding from Betty King in 1990 to achieve this goal and the  John Schroeder, building, named for Betty’s grandfather, was built so in 1988, we became a regional day-use facility for the environmental education of K-12 students.

The next step in the dream was to make it possible for students to stay several days, just like the youth in Germany did.  Funding was secured through the GreenPrint Plan for MN and the Blandin Foundation's Project EarthSense and we expanded into a year-round residential center re-named Eagle Bluff. Today, it is one of several members of the residential environmental learning center (RELC) network and is an element in Minnesota’s approach to outdoor education. Eagle Bluff, as an established residential school, offers a variety of programs and outdoor opportunities to over 16,000 participants of all ages per year. Visit our Programs Page »

Please consider a gift of support.  As a non-profit organization, we rely on supporters like you to help us continue to offer programs that connect individuals to nature and each other.  Visit our Support page »