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Ryan Pennesi grew up in Central Massachusetts and the greater New England area. A childhood and adolescence full of investigation and discovery in the outdoors led to the pursuit of a career in natural resource education and management. He has a B.S degree in Wildlife and Fisheries Conservation and is currently working towards an M.A in Biology.

In 2013 he joined the Wolf Ridge Environmental Learning Center (ELC) staff in Northeastern Minnesota as part of the Naturalist team. For two years he became deeply rooted and enamored with the ELC campus and with the surrounding north shore of Lake Superior. Today he resides in Finland, MN and works as a forestry and wildlife technician for Carlton County. Much of his work is devoted to sustainably managing natural resources, educating others, and helping to create a more ecologically diverse and resilient landscape.

Ryan believes photography can give us a profound window into the lives of untamed creatures; for him it has fostered a greater appreciation and respect for the wild. Photography has taught him to interact more intimately with the environment, focus on detail, and to read the stories written in the earth. Ryan is most interested in using images and the accompanying tales as conservation tools. He strives to spark curiosity in others and help connect folks to the natural world. Ryan believes images can induce powerful feelings, transfer knowledge, and facilitate informed decisions. He feels there are always new and creative ways for people to share and learn from nature’s brilliance.




As a mail carrier in rural Grand Rapids, Minn., for 35 years, John Latimer put his own stamp on a career that delivered more than letters. Indeed, while driving the hundred-mile round-trip daily route, he passed the time by observing and recording seasonal changes in nature, learning everything he could about the area’s weather, plants and animals, and becoming the go-to guy who could answer customers’ questions about what they were seeing in the environment.

The expertise he developed along the way turned him into one of Minnesota’s leading phenologists and host of a popular weekly radio show Phenology that attracts nature lovers and regular phenology contributors from around the state.

Project Administrator Glenn Swanson

Artistic Director - Oldenburg Arts and Cultural Community.

With a career as a professional musician, author, songwriter and producer as well as web developer for international community development projects, Glenn has a college background in life sciences and administers Document Spring's web technologies.




Ellie Swanson is a member of the faculty at Wrenshall Schools. She and her students participated in Document Spring 2018 and now serves as our 2019 school/teacher project liaison. She is currently working with the Northeast Area School Consortium to engage all of Carlton County school districts in this collaborative project.


Phenology is the study of seasonal plant and animal cycles and how variations in climate, habitat factors affect the emergence of leaves and flowers, the first flight of butterflies, and the first appearance of migratory birds.

Document Spring combines the artistry of photography with the systematic gathering of scientific data. OACC engaged these experts to develop the Phenology Protocol for Document Spring. We are immensely grateful for their expertise and their enthusiasm for Document Spring as a citizen science project.

Advisory Panel 2019

Lisa Angelos

Jay Cooke State Park Manager

Betsy Dugan


Kyle Gill

Cloquet Forestry Center Manager, University of Minnesota

Roy Hagen

Natural resource management and conservation consultant

Dylan Kelly

University of Minnesota Extension 4-H Program Coordinator of Carlton County

Courtney Kowalczak

Director, Environmental Institute and St. Louis River Watch, Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College

John Latimer

Founder, Minnesota Phenology Network, KAXE radio host of Phenology

Ryan Pennesi

Carlton County Land Management Forestry and Wildlife Technician

Larry Weber

author, retired Marshall School biology faculty, leader of KUMD’s Backyard Almanac program