After seven years Ruth Oppedahl has decided to step down as executive director of the Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin.

The Foundation Board of Directors and staff wish Ruth the best on her new adventures and appreciate all that she has contributed to the Foundation – she will be sorely missed! After a short sabbatical, Ruth will look for new opportunities to work in the conservation field as she moves on to the next phase of her career.

Milestones under Ruth’s leadership

Under Ruth’s leadership, with board and staff, the Foundation has successfully increased its partnerships and support for healthy natural resources in Wisconsin. Several milestones we’ve recently reached include:

  • More than doubling conservation funds and expanding grants supporting projects throughout Wisconsin.
  • Expanding NRF’s Field Trip programs that connect citizens to more than 230 great natural resource adventures.
  • Reaching over half a million dollars for the Cherish Wisconsin Outdoors Fund.
  • Growing operational strength.
  • Transitioning to a proven software platform for optimum efficiency in grant-tracking, fund accounting and donor services.
  • Relocating to a new office space that better supports NRF’s mission.
  • Creating and achieving a million-dollar endowment to help sustain NRF operations and expand its capacity.
  • Building NRF’s educational impact, doubling local grant-making and expanding NRF outreach.
  • Launching a diversity, equity, and inclusion initiative so all Wisconsinites benefit from our grant-making and opportunities to engage with nature.

Remembering Ruth’s “I Heart Wisconsin” river trip

Ruth Oppedhal on her "I Heart Wisconsin" river trip.

Another highlight from Ruth’s career with the Foundation is her “I Heart Wisconsin” river trip, an 18-day paddle along the length of the Wisconsin River.

She decided to use her vacation time to embark on this epic journey after learning of the 2015 budget cuts to critical conservation resources for Wisconsin and hoped the trip would inspire people to get outside and appreciate the natural wonders across the state.

Ruth was easily recognized along the way by the bright flag attached to the back of her kayak that pictured a large heart over the state of Wisconsin. Later, this design inspired the logo for the Bluffs to Great Lake Shores Campaign – a campaign that will create a permanent endowment fund for the Foundation.

 

Board Chair Kristine Krause said the Foundation’s momentum and success will continue to attract donors, members and partners willing to support the places, natural resources and outdoor lifestyles they cherish.

“We are profoundly grateful for Ruth and what she has done for the Foundation and for the wild places of Wisconsin. We are focusing on the future while celebrating historic success,” Krause said.

A final farewell from Ruth Oppedahl:

On August 20 I will be wrapping up my time with the Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin. I have enjoyed meeting so many of you personally in your homes and on field trips in our beautiful state!

I am humbled by what we have accomplished together, especially creating an endowment for the Foundation, and setting up our operations and systems and staffing that will efficiently take our Foundation strongly into the next decades.

I hope you will join me in looking forward to greeting the new executive director of the Foundation this fall. It is my greatest wish that you will continue, and even consider increasing your support as we build on our original mission to provide funding for public lands and endangered wildlife in Wisconsin. Our grantmaking for education continues to reach more and more classrooms and nature centers across the state, and we hope our focus on diversity and inclusion in our grant program and field trips will better serve all Wisconsin residents.

If you have lived somewhere else, you recognize what we have in Wisconsin is special. The Foundation will continue to be there to serve where your passion and interest intersects with the greatest needs of our lands, wildlife and waters. I look forward to seeing you on the trail, or on the river.

Sincerely,

Ruth Oppedahl

The Wisconsin Amphibian and Reptile Conservation Fund

This endowment fund will provide sustainable support to protect Wisconsin’s turtles, toads, frogs, lizards, snakes, and salamanders for future generations.

Backyard Birding with the Great Wisconsin Birdathon

This year the Great Wisconsin Birdathon participants took part in the Backyard Birding Challenge, finding an incredible 185 species in their own backyards!

Celebrating Nelson Institute’s 50th Anniversary

This year marks the 50th Anniversary of the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies, the globally respected institution at the University of Wisconsin-Madison named after former Wisconsin Governor and U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson, the author of renowned environmental legislation and founder of Earth Day.

Tracking the Phantoms: A Red-shouldered Hawk Telemetry Study

In 2018 the Foundation helped fund the first attempt to monitor Wisconsin’s red-shouldered hawk with more advanced telemetry technology.

We’re Partnering up with Snapshot Wisconsin

We’re excited to announce that the Foundation is partnering with Snapshot Wisconsin to provide more volunteer opportunities for our members!

Feathers – Finders Keepers? Not Really . . .

For generations, feathers have been used in many decorative ways. Once removed from the bird, there is no way to know how they were acquired. The federal migratory bird act of 1972 put specific laws in place to protect all birds to keep them from being killed for their feathers.

Conservation Dogs Lend a Paw in Bumble Bee Surveys

Thanks to the incredible support from the Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin’s Wisconsin Pollinator Protection Fund, Midwest Conservation Dogs, Inc. has begun training professional detection dogs to locate bumble bee nests.

Conservation, Community, and Racial Justice

Recent events have shined a light on the deeply ingrained injustices that people of color continue to face, particularly the black community. The discrimination, violence, and oppression have left me and my colleagues at the Foundation deeply disturbed. We are angry. We are sad. We also stand in solidarity with all who are working to assure social and racial justice.

7 Ways to Celebrate Earth Day’s 50th Anniversary

While most Earth Day in-person and large events have been canceled, the celebration of the nation-wide event that began right here in Wisconsin continues. 

14 Things We ❤️ About Wisconsin

To celebrate Valentine’s Day we have compiled a list of 14 things we love about our valentine—Wisconsin.