The Observer: The Life and Writings of Bernt Olaf Wolden

"There are probably those who will say; 'All this is past. Why dwell so much on the scenes and the sounds of a long since vanished past? We are living in a different age. Live in the present.' But this is history. And some history is still being taught." - B.O. Wolden, 1962

Olaf Wolden was one of those rare people who knew his home place with an intimacy most of us can only aspire to, and he shared a bond with all the beings he lived among, a bond that is difficult to find in our modern age. A naturalist in every sense of the word, Olaf had a personal devotion to tracking bird migrations and flower bloomings, a scientific drive to catalogue mosses and lichens with exacting precision, and a desire to share his passion for the natural world with others.
From 1930-1968, he contributed a column titled Nature Notes to The Estherville Daily News where he shared musings and observations about the natural world. Olaf's story reaches back to the early 19th century, a time when northwest Iowa was a wilder place than the one we have today. This book tells the story of Olaf's childhood in Island Grove and his development as a naturalist and botanist. Readers will experience Olaf's love of nature in his own words through a curated selection of his Nature Notes and an accompanying biography written by Amie Adams. 



  • Saturday, Feb 24: Exhibitor at the Iowa Prairie Network Winter Seminar

  • Saturday, April 27: Book Talk at Prairie Woods Nature Center in Sioux County. Morning Session from 10:00-11:30 AM geared toward adults. Sack lunch with the author from 11:45-12:45. Afternoon session from 1:30-3:00 PM geared toward families.

  • May 31-June 2: Presentation & Writing Workshop at the Loess Hills Prairie Seminar. More details TBD.

  • Tuesday, July 9 @ 6:30 PM: Book Talk at the Clear Lake Public Library

2023 - Past Events

  • Saturday, March 18 : Presentation at Emmet County Conservation Banquet
  • Saturday, April 22 : Presentation at Emmet County Conservation Open House

  • Tuesday, June 6 @ 7:00 PM: Tuesday Lecture Series, Lakeside Laboratory

  • Thursday, July 20 @ 7:00 PM: Book Talk at Dog Eared Books in Ames, IA

  • Saturday, October 7: Book Talk at the Women, Food, and Agriculture Conference


Iowa History 101: Iowa's Naturalists: B.O. Wolden and Conservation in the Aldo Leopold Era