About the Listening Point Foundation

Listening Point Foundation is dedicated to preserving Listening Point and advancing Sigurd F. Olson's wilderness philosophy.

The Listening Point Foundation, Inc. is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization located in Ely, a small town in northern Minnesota on the edge of the wilderness, where Sigurd Olson and his wife Elizabeth lived for several decades.

Founded in 1998 by Sig’s younger son, Robert K. Olson, the foundation was named after Listening Point, the rugged northern Minnesota lake shore property that inspired Sig and became his continued place of connection to the vast wild places he knew and loved so well.

Our vision is to foster people's connection to wild places by inspiring them to find their own listening point.

Listening Point was a place of connection for Sig, continually renewing his sense of wonder and gratitude for the natural world. A central theme throughout his written works and speeches is the idea that wilderness is important to the well-being of the human spirit.

Sig put it best when he wrote in his book Listening Point:

“Everybody has a listening-point somewhere. It does not have to be in the north or close to the wilderness, but some place of quiet where the universe can be contemplated with awe.”

Hence, the vision of the Listening Point Foundation is to foster people’s connection to wild places by inspiring them to find a “listening point” in their own lives.

We care for the places that inspired Sig and share them with the world.

We own and care for the Olson home and Sig’s Writing Shack in Ely, and Listening Point and Gusty Island on Burntside Lake.

Listening Point was donated by the Olson family when the Listening Point Foundation was established in 1998.

In 2014, Listening Point Foundation had the rare opportunity to obtain the home where Sig and Elizabeth lived for decades in Ely, Minnesota. This is also where Sig’s cozy “Writing Shack” is located; the converted one-car garage where he wrote all nine of his bestselling books.

Now headquartered there, the Listening Point Foundation conducts guided tours for the interested public of the Olson family home, Writing Shack, and nearby Listening Point. If you would like to visit, we would love to welcome you! Learn how to visit here.

In 2019, Gusty Island was donated to Listening Point Foundation by the Trust for Public Land in partnership with the Minnesota Land Trust.  Tucked in near a protected cluster of islands, the undeveloped island sits less than a mile from Sigurd Olson’s beloved Listening Point and is a classic, Canadian-Shield, north woods scene. Plans for the island are gradually developing, and you can learn more about it here.

Also, please explore our community page to stay engaged with upcoming events and programs, follow us on social media, and stay tuned for news and updates!

Everyone has a listening point somewhere.

The Listening Point Foundation listens to, learns from, and embraces diverse and underrepresented voices as we strive to help all people find a connection to nature through the wilderness philosophy of Sigurd Olson.

About Sigurd F. Olson

A writer with a deep, lifelong passion for the importance of wilderness to the human spirit, and the desire to share it with the world.

Sigurd Olson (1899-1982) was a well-known environmentalist, award-winning conservation activist, and best-selling author. Though he lived in Ely, Minnesota and took numerous trips within the Quetico-Superior wilderness, he traveled widely and influenced the creation and preservation of natural areas across the country. Learn more about Sigurd Olson here.

About Listening Point

Sigurd Olson's historic cabin retreat and property on the edge of the wilderness in northern Minnesota. Guided Tours are available through the Listening Point Foundation in Ely, Minnesota.

Sigurd Olson created Listening Point in 1956 as a private retreat on the shores of Burntside Lake. It became widely known and celebrated after Alfred Knopf published Olson’s book, Listening Point in 1958. Learn more about Listening Point and how to visit here.

We are dedicated...

To preserving Listening Point and advancing Sigurd Olson's wilderness philosophy.

Listening Point Foundation works to create strong connections with our community and supporters near and far. Our volunteer tour guides take visitors to Ely out in all seasons to experience the coziness of the Olson family home, the historic Writing Shack, and the wonder and beauty of Listening Point. Here in Ely, we now offer annual scholarships to the local high school and community college. We enjoy welcoming teachers and student groups to guided tours that explore Sig's national impact on wilderness preservation in Minnesota and across North America.


Annual Visitors


In Scholarships


Volunteer Hours

Foundation Leadership

Our Board of Directors, Executive Director, and Listening Point Foundation Staff are passionate about continuing the legacy of Sigurd F. Olson in the world today. We also have a host of volunteers who keep our community strong. Learn more about our volunteer opportunities here.

Board of Directors

  • Patsy Mogush, President
  • Charles Wick, Vice President
  • Cori Mattke, Secretary
  • Casey Campbell, Treasurer
  • Alan Brew
  • Annette Drewes
  • Sue Duffy
  • Kathleen Floberg
  • JoyGenea Schumer

Interim Executive Director

  • Freja Finkle

Program Director


Keep the legacy alive by donating

We are working hard to create a sustainable financial future for the Listening Point Foundation.

Your donation helps us keep the mission alive and the Foundation moving forward. You can also make a lasting impression by donating a brick to our patio engraved with a message of your choice. Learn more by clicking below!