Ron Semmann helped create the Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin while working at the Department of Natural Resources in 1986. He later served as the first executive director, brought on the first paid staff, and has been a critical member of the board of directors in the years that followed. Ron is now ready to enjoy a much-deserved retirement and while we will miss him greatly, his wisdom will always be welcome as Board Member Emeritus, friend, and supporter.

A message from Ron to all NRF members, partners, staff, and board:

It is always difficult to know when is the proper time to step aside. Given the quality of the board and the staff, and the dedication of all to our mission, I know the Foundation will continue to flourish in the years ahead.

Our success is the result of the work and love of many folks—love of a desire to preserve our corner of the earth. The creation of the Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin was a labor of love on my part and that of our leadership team, but the real success is a product of hundreds of you devotedly and silently working to make a difference. It is also a product of thousands of Foundation members who have contributed financially, attended Field Trips, and volunteered their time.

There was a dream and a vision in 1986 that an organization could be created that would help to augment the financial shortcomings from the state budget. We were fortunate to have the wisdom and support of Secretary Besadny and his Natural Resources Board, and we had top DNR officers like Bruce Braun, Linda Bochert, Marty Henert, and others who said “let’s just do it.” So we did it—because of you—and I thank you. 

Ron has contributed so much to the Foundation over the years, including a history of NRF titled “Origins: Creating the Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin”.

Hundreds of ‘Birdathonners’ Raise Funds for Bird Conservation Efforts in Wisconsin

The Great Wisconsin Birdathon is one of the most popular “bird-a-thon” style fundraisers in the nation, bringing in over $400,000 since it was created in 2012 to raise funds for bird protection efforts for Wisconsin birds.

Supporting Green & Healthy Schools Wisconsin

The Natural Resources Foundation is a proud supporter of Green & Healthy Schools Wisconsin, a program that empowers, supports and recognizes schools for nurturing healthy kids and sustainable communities.

A Walk Through Time and Hemlocks

All of this beautiful snow here in Madison reminds me of a winter trip I took to northern Wisconsin, when I had the opportunity to explore a new place: Germain Hemlocks State Natural Area in Oneida County.

Foundation Grants Support Project Wild Child

Every Monday during the school year, nearly 75 students and volunteers with Project Wild Child pile into buses and travel to the nearby school forest for the day. Transportation to the school forest has been made possible for two years in a row thanks to the Foundation’s Go Outside Fund and Teachers Outdoor Environmental Education Fund.

Grant from REI makes a deep impact at Wisconsin’s beloved Devil’s Lake State Park

Devil’s Lake State Park is one of the most highly visited and cherished public properties in Wisconsin. Funding from REI was used to complete critical restoration activities.

Wisconsin’s threatened reptiles

We have 36 species of reptiles in Wisconsin and more than half of them are listed as endangered, threatened, or a species of special concern. These animals are vulnerable and critically important to the health and balance of our ecosystems.

2018 CD Besadny Conservation Grant Awardees

The Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin has awarded $28,043 to 30 organizations across Wisconsin through the C.D. Besadny Conservation Fund. The fund annually awards grants up to $1,000 that support grassroots conservation and education projects.

Students experience nature untouched by humans at Isle Royale

The Natural Resources Foundation helped fund trip for seventh graders from Phillips Middle School to Isle Royale. Students learn about renewable energy, environmental stewardship, earth science, and history as well as picking up the basics of camping and leave-no-trace ethics.

Nature and Mental Health

Spending time in nature has a physiological effect on the body, reducing blood pressure and the hormone cortisol, which is associated with stress. Thus, our time in nature serves to lessen stress and refresh our brains, improving focus, creativity and problem-solving.

Prairie restoration at Faville Prairie SNA

Faville Prairie is a highly diverse prairie with over 200 native prairie plants, but in recent years, invasive shrubs and trees have invaded the remnant prairie resulting in a loss of native species diversity. With support from the Natural Resources Foundation, the Arboretum worked with Tallgrass Restoration, LLC, to remove about eight acres of invasive shrubs and trees as part of a prairie restoration at Faville Prairie SNA.