Category Archives: Profiles in Conservation

Harold Ramon Cram, Jr. Bluebird Restoration Fund

When we lose someone we love, it can feel like a gaping hole is left behind. While nothing can ever  replace what has been lost, as humans we have a strong instinct to help our loved one live on in some way. Creating a memorial fund “After Dad died, people wanted to make donations to something that would live on in his name—something he believed in and loved,” remembered Cathy Cram, daughter of Harold Ramon...

Marty Henert steps up as Foundation’s next Board Chair

In January of 2017, Martin (Marty) Henert was voted on as Chairman of the Board of Directors for the Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin. Marty has been with NRF since it formed in 1986 and played a fundamental role in getting the Foundation connected to funding in its first years. He even took over as Executive Director of the Foundation when Ron Semmann, the first Executive Director, was called upon to serve as Deputy Secretary...

Bob and Nan Rudd discuss their conservation endowment

In an interview for NRF member newsletter, Bridges, Bob and Nancy (Nan) Rudd reminded us that conservation is a gift that gives back for generations. In the fall of 2016, Bob and Nan established the Robert and Nancy Rudd Conservation Fund. This conservation endowment fund will support the perpetual management and restoration of their land, along with other priority conservation projects in Green County....

Two Decades with the Natural Resources Foundation

My wife Barbara and I became members of the Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin circa 1998. In the years since I’ve had the chance to see the many ways NRF carries out its mission, creating opportunities for its members to see and experience the very best parts of our state while building support for important conservation efforts. Along the way, I’ve had a chance to see just about every side of the NRF—from fundraising to...

Managing wetlands on your property

Across Wisconsin and the globe, wetlands have historically been misunderstood and underappreciated. Wetlands—found where land and water meet—provide countless benefits to wildlife, landscapes and communities. But despite their value, past and current land use has filled, drained or degraded many wetlands. In Wisconsin, we’ve already lost half of our wetlands. Of the wetlands that remain in Wisconsin, 75 percent are owned by private landowners, giving landowners a vital role in caring for them. Every wetland...

A Passion for Land Stewardship

The seeds of conservation and preservation were planted in me during my formative years while camping with my family in Columbia County just north of Madison. But it took a solo cross country bike ride for me to elevate my game and pursue land stewardship with a passion. The Ah-Ha! Moment It was the fall of 2014 and I was mentally and physically drained after spending a few days pedaling across Kansas. Forewarned about the...

Flambeau River Forest fund: Protect what you love, and help others love it, too

By Lisa Charron   Imagine 90,000 acres of protected forest. Seventy-five miles of hardwood-lined river winds its way through the property. Paddlers and people fishing drift on the open water, while thrill-seekers maneuver through the rapids. Deer, wolves, raccoon, black bear, otter, bald eagles and ospreys make their homes along the lush banks while musky, sturgeon, trout, walleye, bass and pan fish thrive in the waters. Families spend evenings around the fire in the rustic...

Discovering nature (and supporting conservation) through a camera lens

  Josh Mayer is a longtime Foundation member, and has allowed the Foundation to use his stunning photographs for pretty much every form of publication and outreach. For the Foundation’s 30th anniversary, he’s gone one step further and donated this image to be printed, framed and auctioned off at the Foundation’s 30th anniversary party on August 30th. Read the following Q & A with Mayer to learn about his connection to nature and photography, what...

Origins: Creating the Wisconsin Natural Resources Foundation

By Ronald L. Semmann, founding Foundation board member In 1986, a group of individuals associated with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources embarked on a journey to seek alternative funding for its programs, supplementing the scarce and diminishing financial resources appropriated through legislated channels. This is the fascinating story of that successful venture. Sufficient funding for public programs has always been difficult.  Perhaps that is the way it should be, ensuring the taxpayer that public...

Ray Zillmer: A Vision Come True in the Kettle Moraine

By Kathlin Sickel, freelance writer Check out Kathlin’s blog, The Badger and the Whooping Crane.   The natural resources of our state contain not just the gifts and wonders of nature, but also the seeds of many a story. Consider, for example, the story of the Ice Age Trail, the Kettle Moraine State Forest and a life-long Wisconsinite named Raymond T. Zillmer.   Ray Zillmer’s story highlights the fact that a very different landscape might...

Telling Wisconsin’s stories: A Q&A with Tim Eisele

The Foundation is thrilled to have Tim Eisele, freelance outdoor writer and photographer, join our board this month. His stories have appeared in the Wisconsin Outdoor News, Capital Times, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and Wisconsin State Journal. He edited Woodland Management magazine for 12 years. A third-generation Madisonian, Eisele previously worked in information and education for the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. We recently sat down with Eisele to talk to him about what he cherishes...

Inspiring the next generations: A Q&A with Tom Dott

The Foundation is thrilled to have Tom Dott, vice president of commercial banking at First Business Bank, join our board this month. Dott has more than 20 years of commercial banking experience. He served on the Board of Directors of the Henry Vilas Park Zoological Society and serves in several leadership roles for the United Way of Dane County. We recently sat down with Dott to talk to him about what he cherishes most about...

The thrill of…counting birds

By Lisa Charron, Natural Resources Foundation “That’s the silliest question ever!” Ryan Brady exclaims when I ask him if he has a passion for birds. I guess it is a silly question, seeing as he’s been coordinating WBCI’s Wisconsin Bird Monitoring Program for seven years. Brady recruits, organizes and trains 150-200 volunteers each year to monitor the bird species that fall through the cracks of other surveys: night birds and secretive marsh birds. In 2015,...

Portrait of the nature photography enthusiast

By Vince Aiello, Foundation volunteer photographer To view more of Vince’s photography, visit his website at http://vincentaiellophotographer.com. I have always had a strong interest in nature. I can’t pinpoint when it started. All I know is I’d rather spend as much time outdoor rather than inside. For me, I think it started by hearing the stories that my grandpa would tell at the dinner table. He had all of these amazing stories about things in nature....

Community conservation: 25 years of the C.D. Besadny Conservation Grant Program

By Caitlin Williamson, Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin The Natural Resources Foundation has been a model for community conservation for more than 25 years by providing hundreds of small, matching grants to local conservation groups in Wisconsin through the C.D. Besadny Conservation Grant Program. Created in 1990, the program fosters responsible stewardship of Wisconsin’s lands, waters, and wildlife by supporting grassroots, community-based projects. To date, the Natural Resources Foundation has awarded $420,000 to more than...

Building an environmental ethic: A Q&A with Michael Williamson

The Foundation is thrilled to have Michael Williamson on our board. Williamson has served as deputy secretary for the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources, the director of the North Carolina Retirement System and deputy director of the District of Columbia Retirement Board. We recently sat down with the former University of Wisconsin-Madison administrator to talk to him about what he cherishes most about Wisconsin’s wildlife and public lands, and what he hopes to accomplish with...

Paul Brandt’s Lower Wisconsin Riverway Fund continues to shape and restore the riverway

In 2005, Department of Natural Resources Wildlife Biologist Paul Brandt established the Lower Wisconsin State Riverway Fund with the Foundation. Since its creation, the fund has been used to manage and restore the beautiful Lower Wisconsin State Riverway, an area that Brandt was instrumental in creating. Brandt died in 2006. It starts with a personal connection “Paul Brandt was one the most dedicated state employees I’ve ever encountered,” says Mark Cupp, executive director of the...