If you would like to set up a fund in honor or memory of someone close to you, contact Camille Zanoni at [email protected] or call (608) 264-8922. 

Contributions are welcome to these funds, and to many of the funds held by our Foundation. Donate online and simply enter the fund name.


The Mary and John Koeppe Education Fund

(By John and Mary Koeppe) When we look back at 37 years of being married, many of our fondest memories are of activities we did together outdoors: canoeing in many parts of the country, biking, hiking, camping, and cross-country skiing. Since we have spent so much time enjoying nature, it seemed only natural to do something to preserve this cherished resource for future generations.

This is why money from our estate will be used to create an endowed fund that will support educational programs that are associated with the Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin. Examples of such programs are: Wisconsin Master Naturalist Program, citizen-based science monitoring activities and programs, and the Foundation’s Field Trip Program. Environmental education is a natural fit for us as Mary’s career involved research in environmental biology/chemistry, and John taught at a small college for many years.

The better people understand nature and the environment, the more they will realize how interdependent all of nature is, and the more willing they will be to help protect it. To quote John Muir: “Take a course in good water and air, and in the eternal youth of Nature you may renew your own. Go quietly, alone; no harm will befall you.”

Nina Binkley Endowment for Wisconsin State Parks and Natural Areas
Nina Binkley endowment fund creator

(By Lee Binkley) As a lifetime resident of Wisconsin, Nina Binkley developed a deep appreciation for the natural beauty of the state. She worked to cultivate this appreciation in others through her teaching, her writing, and her own gardens. Nina was raised in Green Bay and graduated with a Bachelor of Science from UW–River Falls. She went on to teach elementary school in New London and Monroe. She saw the best in all students and gave tirelessly to those students who found math to be particularly challenging. Nina often said: “I can see things through different eyes.” She used this ability to help her students learn and also see things in different ways.

This ability to see things from a unique perspective is what allowed Nina to really recognize and enjoy the natural beauty around her. Flowers were a big part of Nina’s life. She transformed her yard into a magnificent display of flower gardens. People would stop to compliment the gardens or ask questions about how to get their own gardens to thrive, and Nina would take the time to explain and teach what she had learned. As a Master Gardener, Nina also wrote a column in the local newspaper as a way to continue sharing her gardening knowledge.

Nina also had a deep love for animals. She contributed to the efforts of counting cranes in the state and felt that the preservation of natural areas and habitats was vital for animals to thrive. At home, she often enjoyed watching a sunrise with one of her pets by her side.

When Nina was diagnosed with a terminal disease, she stated that she wanted to help support efforts to preserve and maintain the natural areas and habitats in the state of Wisconsin. Although she is no longer with us, Nina’s appreciation for nature and desire to share that appreciation lives on through the teaching and sharing that she did over the years.

Nina’s family is pleased to have established the Nina Binkley Endowment for Wisconsin State Parks and Natural Areas. This fund is used to support Wisconsin State Parks and the management, protection, restoration, and appreciation of state natural areas throughout Wisconsin.

Louis’ Bluff Endowment FundUpper Dells

(By Frank Weinhold) On Oct. 9, 2015, we were delighted to welcome Foundation Executive Director Ruth Oppedahl to our farmstead at Louis’ Bluff, a prominent landmark jutting out from the west bank of the Wisconsin River at the head of the Dells. Through millennia, this rocky geological outlier has marked the “gathering waters”–the transition from meandering upriver braids of old glacial lakebed to lofty mural sandstones and the thrilling passage through the Dells.

Since first acquiring ownership of Louis’ Bluff, we have learned of its significant role in the archaeological, political and natural history of the region. Native oral traditions of the bluff preserve its strategic and religious significance of Ho-Chunk and Mesquakie tribes. The summit of the bluff offers the highest lookout views of the region and remains a focus of traditional religious practices for local native peoples. The site has rich associations with voyageurs, explorers and pioneer settlers who later came to this stretch of the river. Early owners include Louis Dupless, namesake of the bluff, whose riverside graveyard lies at its base; and Byron Kilbourn, a co-founder of Milwaukee and driving force of the downriver “Kilbourn City” that was later named Wisconsin Dells. The bluff’s archaeological and historical associations are complemented by outstanding scenic and natural features, including nesting eagles, cranes and other botanical and wildlife species.

Conservation of the Dells SNA traces to the magnificent 1954 Crandall-Bennett family bequest of the seven-mile Dells corridor to the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF), after its original acquisition and restoration in the 1930s by George H. Crandall. Following transfer of WARF’s Dells property to the DNR in the 1990s, the Louis’ Bluff property was designated for eventual attachment to the Dells SNA. Our family secured a conservation easement with the Natural Heritage Land Trust in 2007 to ensure interim protection of the property from the intense development pressures that threaten many stretch of the river. Most recently, we’ve worked with the Foundation to create an endowment fund that would provide ongoing support for invasive species control and other conservation measures in hopes of protecting the unique natural qualities of Louis’ Bluff and the surrounding woodlands.

We feel truly blessed for the privilege of serving as caretakers of Louis’ Bluff for the past 35 years. We hope that the Foundation endowment can facilitate eventual SNA designation and provide additional assurance that this treasure of the Wisconsin landscape can be protected for generations to come.

SanDretto Family SNA Fund
Quincy Bluffs SNA JMayer

Wisconsin natives Erica and Michael SanDretto of Neenah have enjoyed a variety of Wisconsin landscapes throughout their lives. Michael fishes and hunts, and Erica is an avid outdoorswoman. When they decided they wanted to give back to the land they love, they chose to create an endowment with the Foundation because of its local focus.

Established in 2007, the SanDretto Family SNA Fund has paid out funds to help maintain the state natural areas (SNAs) in the Great Lakes Coastal, Northern Forests and Blufflands regions.

The SanDrettos keep a copy of Wisconsin Naturally, a guide to the state’s SNAs, in their glove compartment and delight in stopping to explore these special gems, which their generosity is helping to conserve for future generations, including their three children and grandchildren.

Important Bird Area Fund
Rose-breasted Grosbeak small RBrady

With foresight and generosity, the Wisconsin Society for Ornithology created the Important Bird Area Fund with us in 2007 to support the identification, management and conservation of important bird areas in Wisconsin as part of a larger, global effort.

More than 90 sites have been identified in Wisconsin and are being monitored, managed and protected for long-term conservation of birds and their habitats. The Import Bird Area Fund provides long-term support for this project, including important outreach and education efforts.