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 this particular image means to him and why he supports the Foundation.

Q: Why do you appreciate being a member of the Natural Resources Foundation, or what do you enjoy most about the Foundation?

A: I appreciate being a member of the Natural Resources Foundation because I love to support an organization that cares so deeply about Wisconsin’s natural places and species. Whether it is monetary support to other organizations, field trips, raising awareness or inspiring the next generation’s interest in nature, NRF tirelessly works to promote our state’s natural heritage and the conservation thereof.

Q: Can you talk about your experience exploring Wisconsin’s state natural areas?

A: Exploring Wisconsin’s state natural areas has been an incredible experience. Though I was born and raised here, the wide array of natural communities and the species that inhabit them never cease to amaze me. From forest to fen, from bog to bottoms, there is always a new experience to be had. There is a wonderful feeling in exploring these natural areas all across our state. I find species that I had not observed before and note places that could use a bit more TLC.

To read more about Mayer’s explorations of Wisconsin’s state natural areas, see his guest blog posts: “Drumlin and prairie: Celebrating two of Wisconsin’s natural treasures” and “Celebrating a season of spring ephemeral on state natural areas.”

Q: How did you get into nature photography?

A: Upon finishing graduate school, I received a new digital camera from my parents. Being December, it promptly sat on the shelf for 6 months. I took it out to Governor Nelson State Park on the north side of Lake Mendota and took what I thought was a pretty photograph of wild lupine. With that, I started to look for additional natural places I could go explore and came upon Natural Bridge State Park, which contains Natural Bridge & Rockshelter SNA. That was my gateway to the SNA program and I promptly set out to visit more and learn photography along the way.

Q: What does this particular piece mean to you?

A: This piece means a lot to me. The Liatris that populate the prairie represent the hard work of many people in maintaining this special piece of land.  The drumlin on which the flowers reside hearkens back to the glacial history of our state and the power of the ice in shaping our land. With the recent designation of this site as a state natural area, it really brings everything full circle.

You can check out more of Mayer’s photos on his blog, Flickr account and Instagram account.