CONTACT: Mindy Nuhring

Grand Rapids Area Community Foundation

Executive Director




PHOTO:  Eric Northard and GRHS 2016 graduate, Andy Anderson


Eric Northard Memorial Travel Scholarship Fund established at Community Foundation


In the halls of Grand Rapids High School (GRHS) and in the community, esteemed social studies teacher, Mr. Eric Northard, won’t soon be forgotten.  For many years, Mr. Northard orchestrated transformative international trips for District 318 students that were unforgettable and life changing. Eric and his wife, Nancy, were also active Rotarians and hosted numerous foreign exchange students over the years.


Brielle Carlson, Eric’s fellow social studies teacher at GRHS, traveled extensively with Eric.  Brielle states, “Eric led trips with different groups of students from Northome and Bigfork before coming to GRHS full time. He (and I on most except 3!) led student trips to Morocco, India, Nepal, Costa Rica, Peru, Nicaragua, Ecuador, Spain, France, Italy, Netherlands, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, England, Ireland, and Egypt. Eric was an exceptional navigator of the world and was able to make friends everywhere he traveled. He always saw the good in people and was a positive influence on so many inside and outside of the classroom. Eric paved the way to exposing Grand Rapids area students to the world; international travel has become an important part of the culture at GRHS.”



Andy Anderson, GRHS 2016 graduate, says this about Mr. Northard and the international trips, “I first met Eric Northard (whom I have called “Northard” ever since) when I was 15 years old and we pushed carts together in a grocery store parking lot while we were working to raise funds for our upcoming trip to Europe in 2013.  I didn’t have any idea that that first trip to Ireland, Wales, England and France would be the first of many that we would take together over the next several years.


Northard was one of my favorite people to sit across from, usually during a meal, which was after some lengthy adventure.  He could seamlessly flow from one conversation to another with anyone at the table, each conversation as lively as the last.  He was always full of knowledge, wisdom, and good humor.

My last trip with Northard was to Morocco in the summer of 2019.  By this time, I had traveled to around 16 or 17 different countries, and I considered myself fairly well-traveled, so when I heard “Africa in June,” I didn’t see any reason to pack anything other than shorts, and I left all of my pants at home.  Little did I know I would become good friends with my host family and would be invited to go to a nightclub with them.  A nightclub which required you wear…you guessed it…pants.  I found myself knocking on Northard’s door explaining my pants-less dilemma.  The generous man he was, he didn’t hesitate to loan me a pair of his and they were his favorite pair to boot!  At lunch a few days later, he broke out laughing and said, “after all these years, I never thought I’d have to give a student my own pants!” Let me tell you, they were the most comfortable pants I’ve ever worn.

It’s hard to put into words how much I learned from Northard and how I was influenced by him.  I am confident I will reflect on and find new meaning in the good times and lessons for the rest of my life.  Although his legacy (for me) isn’t set in stone yet, there’s one thing I know for sure:  I am a better person for knowing him.  His impact on me is profound and I will do my very best to conduct myself in the kindest, most inclusive, and compassionate way I can, so through me, the world will know what a great man he was, even if I’m wearing my own pants.”

To honor Eric and his passion for travel, the Eric Northard Memorial Travel Scholarship has been established at the Grand Rapids Area Community Foundation (GRACF).  The scholarship will support District 318 students with a scholarship to the international travel program.


For those who wish to honor Eric and help an area high school student have a wonderful, educational, and life changing experience like Andy Anderson’s, you can donate to The Eric Northard Memorial Travel Scholarship Fund through the Grand Rapids Area Community Foundation online at, click on Donate and search for The Eric Northard Memorial Travel Scholarship fund.  You can also drop off or send donations to GRACF at 350 NW 1st Avenue, Suite E, Grand Rapids, MN 55744.