By Rachel Hollingworth, Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin
When we began to spearhead our big 30th anniversary event, we knew that location was key. Finding a place that had an atmosphere encompassing the natural charm of Wisconsin and a central location for all of our members sent us on a search for the very best that Dane County has to offer. The Aldo Leopold Nature Center’s beautiful landscapes and trails instantly caught our eye. Located just minutes from Madison, you would never think such a peaceful place exists so close to the hustle and bustle of everyday life.
The Aldo Leopold Nature Center, situated east of Lake Monona and coupled with Edna Taylor Conservation Park, has been around since 1994. It was formed in the spirit of Aldo Leopold himself, with a mission to encourage hands-on learning and experiences for children and adults alike. Today the Nature Center is almost unrecognizable from what it once was on opening day. With a new building and state of the art educational technology, the Nature Center hosts some of the coolest programs all year round for children, adults and families.
The Natural Resources Foundation and the Aldo Leopold Nature Center have a long history together, since the very beginning of the Nature Center’s formation. Some of our first grants from the Besadny endowment went to the construction of an accessible pier on the Edna Taylor Park grounds in 1996. Since then, we have supported several of their programs, including summer camps, invasive species programs, educational workshops and more.
One of our more recent projects with the Nature Center was a grant donation to help fund ecological restoration of the park grounds in 2013. Our funds went to prescribed burns, invasive species removal and other measures taken to restore a healthy level of biodiversity on the 21 acres of wetlands, woodlands and prairie. If you’ve been to the Nature Center recently you might have also noticed accessibility improvements on the trails, with new interpretive signs funded in part by our Besadny Conservation Grant program.
Haven’t been to the Nature Center in a while? At our 30th anniversary bash we will have the whole center to ourselves! Did you know the Aldo Leopold Nature Center has brand new climate technology, including an immersion theatre and 3D sphere projection? You can preview of all the fun in Google Street View’s inside look at the center. Guests at our party in the prairie will also be free to roam the trails in the spirit of Aldo Leopold, and indulge in food and drink on the patio. Lastly, be sure to check out the silent auction items featured in the Wisconservation blog before August 30th: Diane Humphrey Lueck’s handmade quilt and one of our favorite’s of Josh Mayer’s photos, printed and framed (more to come!).
We’ll see you at Aldo Leopold Nature Center, August 30th!