Itasca State Park is one of the most iconic spots in Minnesota, and rightly so. It draws hundreds of thousands of tourists to the area, boosting the local economy in the process. But it's important for other reasons as well.

At the start of 2018, I became director of the Itasca Biological Station and Laboratories-the University of Minnesota field station situated within the park. It's been a real honor to be part of this incredible community made up of staff who keep the place running, scientists who spend time here teaching and doing research, and in a few short months, students.

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Hundreds of students will come to the station this spring and summer, as they do each year, to learn in a living laboratory at the headwaters of the Mississippi River. It's a transformative experience for many of them. It was for me, too, 20 years ago at a similar field station. It connected my science with a place and connected me further with those who lived in that place as well.

Taking care of Itasca Biological Station and Laboratories and continuing the legacy started here more than a century ago requires investment. The university is requesting that the state Legislature include funds that will go toward supporting student achievement at Itasca Biological Station and help researchers tackle the issues important to Minnesotans. It's a worthy investment.

I look forward to serving the community and the state of Minnesota as director of the Itasca Biological Station and Laboratories for years to come.

Jonathan Schilling is director of the Itasca Biological Station and Laboratories, University of Minnesota