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Five Questions with Susan Thao

Susan Thao

Susan Thao lives in east St. Paul and will go to Harding High School in the fall. She spent a few weeks in July at Wolf Ridge Environmental Learning Center in Finland as part of a program through Murray Junior High that grants science credits for chemistry, biology, ecology, science process skills, environmental ethics, field research and ecology. Thao was part of a group of students in the program designed to engage kids in scientific research in natural settings. Students are mentored by a variety of professionals as they develop and present data from their own scientific investigations.

She enjoys jogging, listening to music, watching movies and singing. She also enjoys cooking and has developed her own recipe for fried rice that she likes to make for her family and friends. We asked Thao about the experience.

Q: When you heard about the Wolf Ridge program, what were your first thoughts?

A: I thought that it would be fun, but wasn’t sure how interesting it would be. As the days went by, it got really fun and really interesting.

Q: What are some of the eye-opening experiences you’ve discovered there?

A: I had my first experience on a canoe trip and really enjoyed canoeing and camping out. We also collected data for our research projects while we were camping in, and it was cool to be able to compare data from different locations. My group really connected and developed great teamwork on the trip.

Q: How often do you get a chance to be out in nature like you have this month?

A: I enjoy spending time outside and help my neighbors with their garden, and also spend time with a friend picking up garbage and planting trees in the neighborhood. I usually spend time outside a few times a week when I’m at home, but have spent much more time in the past couple of weeks at Wolf Ridge.

Q: How do you think this experience will carry on for the rest of your schooling or into your future?

A: I came in thinking that I wanted to be either a nurse or a police officer. Now, I have some additional ideas of what I might be interested in. I have become more interested in nature and how the world works and want to explore being a naturalist. It seems like it would be fun and exciting to learn more about nature and share that with others as my Wolf Ridge teachers are doing.

Q: If you could host a dinner party with any three people — alive or dead, famous or not — who would they be and why?

A: I would invite some of the people who have helped me get the experience I have had here at Wolf Ridge. This includes Mr. Chase (Murray Junior High teacher), Liz (Wolf Ridge naturalist) and John Schumacher (St. Anthony Park Neighborhood Foundation).

Compiled and edited by Mike Creger. Do you have someone in mind who we could ask Five Questions to? Let Mike know at or by calling (218) 723-5218.