Carleton Joins St. Olaf and Northfield Community to Launch Buckthorn Menace Project; Volunteers Needed

September 13, 2007

Carleton College joins St. Olaf College and the Northfield community in a unique collaborative effort merging volunteerism, education, and creative expression. The Buckthorn Menace, a large-scale sculptural installation designed to raise public awareness about the environmental damage caused by invasive plant species in Minnesota’s natural landscapes and wilderness areas, will launch Thursday, September 20 with presentations by artist Jim Proctor and Carleton geology professor Mary Savina at 5 p.m. in Boliou Hall, room 104. The presentations are free and the public is invited to attend.

Designed and directed by artist Jim Proctor, The Buckthorn Menace is a novel alliance between art and environmental restoration. Constructed on two buckthorn-infested sites in Northfield—one in the “Upper Arb” of the Cowling Arboretum and one down slope from the new science center on the St. Olaf campus—the sculptures will be created by rendering the wood and roots of this invasive plant species into forms resembling gargantuan dandelions in full seed. The installation, scheduled for completion by mid-October, will stand for one full year to allow viewing over the four seasons.

But first, the two sites must be cleared of existing buckthorn and other invasive plants species. Community and campus volunteers are needed to assist in this effort and to help Proctor construct the sculptures. To volunteer, email

“The goal of the project is to educate the public about the environmental threat of buckthorn,” says Carleton senior Marina Komarovsky (Vernon Hills, Ill.). “It also demonstrates how we can positively impact the environment by coming together as a community with an active, hands-on approach to a local problem.” For Carleton professors and other local educators, The Buckthorn Menace is an ideal opportunity to create service-learning projects for their classes by linking their curricula with community work. Academic groups scheduled to volunteer at the site include sculpture and geology classes from Carleton, studio art and art history classes from St. Olaf, science classes from the Northfield Middle School, and students from the Northfield School of Arts and Technology (ARTECH).

For more information, visit The Buckthorn Menace website at The Buckthorn Menace project is co-sponsored by Carleton College and St. Olaf College, in association with the Environmental Quality Commission of Northfield.