There are many organizations worthy of our support and sometimes it is difficult to decide which ones to support when one has limited resources. However, for those interested in nature and preserving it for future generations, our state is fortunate to have one of the best organizations possible working for us, the Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin (NRFW). I would like to tell you about the organization and share with you some of their accomplishments from their 2019 annual report.

One can tell a lot about an organization by looking at their mission and what they believe in. NRFW’s mission is to connect generations to Wisconsin’s lands, waters, and wildlife through conservation, education, engagement, and giving. They believe that nature has inherent value, and that people can make a positive difference. Together they work with others and partners to build a healthier, more resilient, Wisconsin for future generations to enjoy. These are ambitious goals and NRFW has done an outstanding job of achieving them over the years in my opinion. Here are some examples of what they are doing from their Annual Report.

Safeguarding Wisconsin’s State Natural Areas

There are nearly 700 State Natural Areas in Wisconsin safeguarding our state’s most ecologically important landscapes and preserving what Wisconsin landscapes looked like prior to European settlement. These protected landscapes make up just 1.1 percent of the state, yet they support roughly 90 percent of Wisconsin’s rare plant species, and 75 percent of our rare wildlife species. In 2019, 30 State Natural Areas were managed or restored. Sixty projects were funded for Wisconsin’s Lands and Waters and 11 trails were built or improved.

Wildlife

NRFW grows grassroots partnerships to protect critical bird habitat. Scattered across Wisconsin are pockets of premium bird habitat known as “Important Bird Areas” that are critical to bird nesting, breeding, and migration for rare, threatened, or endangered species. In 2019, WRFW conducted eight projects on State Wildlife Areas, 49 projects were funded to protect wildlife species and 15 research and monitoring projects were supported.

Environmental Education

Of course, this one is close to our hearts as our Fifield Nature Education Center fits into this. NRFW connects Wisconsin schools to outdoor “Edventures.” For many schools, environmental education is limited to a field trip or two. Field Edventures is changing that by building outdoor, locally based lessons into the ENTIRE school, across all grade levels, in all subjects, all year long — rain or shine! Wow, what a great concept! In 2019, 75 schools received funding for environmental education, 6,142 youth connected to the outdoors, and 2,565 adults and children joined NRFW field trips to explore Wisconsin.

How does all that happen? It is through generous donations from supporters all across our great state of Wisconsin and beyond and by the hard, dedicated work of NRFW members, staff, partners, and board members. If you love Wisconsin outdoors and all that it has to offer for you, your family, and future generations, consider becoming a member at www.wisconservation.org or call 866-734-1485. If you do, you will help conserve the best of Wisconsin outdoors along with many other like-minded people who are already members. On Wisconsin!

The private Nature Education Center in Fifield operated by Tom & Mary Lou Nicholls is open seasonally by appointment only. Nicholls can be reached at nicho002@umn.edu.