During the Spring Semester of 2021, Thoreau College is conducting a radical experiment in making immersive, impactful, personalized higher education financially accessible for a dynamic group of 18 young people from across North America. Ranging in age from 18 to 46, the Thoreau College Spring Fellows are participating in a diverse individualized program of activities including a variety of internships around the Driftless Region, including meat-curing, organic farming and gardening, teaching, and operating a kitchen—all while taking academic courses in writing composition, political philosophy, regenerative agriculture, and visual arts. In addition to their internships and classes, Thoreau Fellows participate in self-governance of college programs including admissions, outreach, curriculum design, operating the business aspect of our greenhouse, and stewarding all administrative elements of our community. 

To make this all possible, all of the Fellows are contributing many hours of manual and administrative labor each week, both for the College and for our local partner organizations and small businesses.  In addition, all Fellows have participated in an individual pledge process to determine their ability to contribute financially.  Our goal is to make it possible for all participants to take part without needing to get an outside job or to go into debt.  For some, this means directly paying the full amount or a partial amount of their share of the cost of running the program.  For others, this has meant receiving a small stipend from the community to enable them to meet their obligations to support family members or cover other outside expenses.  We have been motivated to take this unusual approach out of a spirit of solidarity and commitment to equal access to the unique educational opportunities that Thoreau College has to offer.

A major portion of the funds needed for the semester has already been secured through direct contributions from Fellows, income from internships and enterprises, and cost savings from Fellows performing jobs that would otherwise need to be paid.   But we need your help to close the final gap. Your donation will help us continue to offer our Fellows affordable food and housing, compensate our incredible faculty and staff members, and build educational programs like our agriculture and livestock operations. 

Please consider making a contribution to Thoreau College to help make this semester a success and support this pioneering group of Fellows in the ongoing work of building Thoreau College. We greatly appreciate your support of our mission and our projects. Thank you for continuing to help us cultivate a community of real thinking, real work, and real purpose.


2021 Spring Fellow Julia Buskirk applies biodynamic preps in Thoreau’s Garden Greenhouse