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 most about Wisconsin’s wildlife and public lands, and what he hopes to accomplish in his role on the board.
1. How did you develop your love for the outdoors?
I do everything because I hunt: the writing that I do now, the business that I’m in, everything, because I hunt. I grew up in a family where my dad, uncle and grandfather were rabbit hunters. They hunted rabbits and squirrels and then they got into pheasants and ducks and I loved it. My passion for the outdoors broadened my horizons and allowed me to see interesting things like prairie chickens, sandhill cranes and land management.
I worked at the DNR for eight years in information and education, so I worked with outdoor writers and other DNR employees. I developed a relationship with some of those guys and they invited me to do some hunting with them. Some of these guys were conservation wardens and they’ve now retired. For the last 29 years we’ve hunted together the first week of November out on the Mississippi River, south of La Crosse. Originally I went because I loved duck hunting and I loved being on the river. After a while I realized that I really enjoy going because of the people that I’m with.
2. What is it about the Foundation in particular that makes you excited to be on our board?
There are so many things. My priority is Wisconsin. Wisconsin DNA is in my blood. I love the state. I love the natural resources. In everything that I’ve done, from working for the Department of Natural Resources and in my freelancing, I’ve tried to let people know about what’s being done with the state’s natural resources. The Foundation is here to raise money to help public lands and natural resources. What the Foundation does is very much in line with my values.
3. What is the unique role that you think the Foundation plays in Wisconsin?
There are a lot of good organizations raising money to do good things, but the Foundation is very unique in raising money for public lands. I think that’s really great—public lands are very important. They are accessible to everybody—regardless of income level. You can just go out and use public lands, whether it’s for cross-country skiing, hiking, hunting or fishing.
4. What do you think right now are some of the most pressing conservation challenges in the state?
There are lots of them. Climate warming could have a big impact on all natural resources (fish, fowl and water). Growing human populations and loss of habitat. Loss of independence of the DNR—we need to return to where the Natural Resources Board appoints the secretary of the DNR. Clean water. Chronic wasting disease. Shrinking budgets of the DNR and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Selfishness of some groups (including some hunters) to look at their own self-interest and what they want “today” and not for the long-term future of “tomorrow’s” natural resources. Invasive species, especially garlic mustard, buckthorn and honeysuckle. And we need a formal way for non-hunters and non-anglers to contribute financially to the management of the state’s resources.
5. Do you have a single favorite outdoor place in Wisconsin?
Sitting in my own woods on the land that we own, beneath the oak trees in May, when it’s sunny and warm, with the grouse drumming, turkeys gobbling and hearing trains going up and down the Mississippi.
6. What other outdoor activities do you participate in?
I like fishing, cross-country skiing, hiking, photography. Whenever I’m out, I take photos.
7. Is there anything else you’d like our members to know about you?
I believe in life-long learning and that’s one of the reasons we enjoy the Foundation’s field trips. We’ve had great experiences going different places and learning things. I’m always learning so much I never knew.