By Rachel Hollingworth, Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin
Owen Gromme, hailed as the “Dean of U.S. Wildlife Artists,” had a longstanding presence in the State of Wisconsin as both an artist and an advocate for conservation. Born in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, in 1896, Gromme began his career as a taxidermist for the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago at the age of 21.
After serving in World War I, he worked at the Milwaukee Public Museum for 43 years. He spent his time at the museum in many different roles: taxidermist, sculptor, background painter, photographer and many other titles until his last position as the curator of birds and mammals. The works he created for the museum are still in circulation today, including many rare collections and exhibits he orchestrated himself. While he was dedicated to his job with the museum, he still found time to paint and promote conservation awareness, too. Along with being an outspoken proponent of wildlife laws to protect local populations, he also used money from the sale of his own oil paintings to support conservation projects.
After retiring in 1965, Gromme continued to pursue artwork and conservation efforts around the state. He was a founding member of the International Crane Foundation in Baraboo and promoted awareness of the dangers of pesticide use on local bird populations in Wisconsin. Since his death in 1991, his collections have traveled around the nation and his book, “Birds of Wisconsin,” is still available from its original publisher. At our 30th anniversary celebration in August, you could win one of Gromme’s prints, pictured above, donated to the silent auction by our own Linda Bochert.
Linda Bochert is an NRF board member who has been with us since the very beginning, along with her husband Dave. For our 30th anniversary this year, they have donated a signed Owen Gromme print for the silent auction. Read the Q&A below to find out more about Linda and her relationship with the Natural Resources Foundation.
Q: How long have you been involved with the Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin, and how did you come to be a part of the Foundation?
A: We have been members of the Foundation since its inception. Along with colleagues at Michael Best & Friedrich, Dave did the legal work to create the Foundation; Linda was with the Department of Natural Resources at the time, and now serves on the Foundation Board of Directors.
Q: Do you have a favorite Foundation memory?
A: We have many, but a very recent one is the international trip the Foundation sponsored to New Zealand. We traveled through New Zealand for 12 days with 13 other Foundation members–a most compatible group!–and saw amazing landscapes and natural resources. It was a fabulous experience. But in the end we were glad to return to our beautiful Wisconsin.
Q: With the Foundation entering its fourth decade, is there anything in NRF’s future that you are particularly excited about?
A: Yes–that the Foundation will continue to serve Wisconsin for many decades to come! We are so fortunate that Wisconsin has an organization whose purpose is to connect private philanthropy to public lands, and that it is succeeding so well. Wisconsin is a beautiful state, with much to offer–and Wisconsin citizens care deeply for our natural resources. Seeing the Foundation provide more people each year with a way to enjoy and support those resources is extremely gratifying.
Interested in having this Owen Gromme print for your own? Visit the silent auction at our big 30th anniversary party this August 30th at Aldo Leopold Nature Center!