If you’re in Wisconsin – or you’re someone who will be visiting Wisconsin in the next six months – and if you appreciate a good field trip with knowledgable guides at affordable prices – then this post is for you! The Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin (NRF) which has been offering “get-outside-and-get-to-know-Wisconsin” field trips since 1993, recently published their Field Trip Guidebook for 2015.
You can download a PDF copy of the guidebook online and see the depth and breadth of what the NRF is offering in their 151 guided trips to the state’s natural resource gems. The opportunities begin in mid-April and continue through mid-November.
The guidebook will also show you at a glance what level of physical demand each trip requires. They are rated this way: Accessible, Easy, Average, Challenging, and Extreme. See page 1 of the guide, for the color-coded key, and the number that show where in the state each field trip is located.
You can also quickly ascertain which are “family friendly,” which are birding trips, which focus on Wisconsin’s wilderness gems – our State Natural Areas. This year, the NRF announced, it is proud and pleased to be offering over 50 field trips to visit State Natural Areas – which are “Wisconsin’s precious wilderness gems.”
Registration for those who are already NRF members began today. As of April 1, the general public can register, and also join the NRF for the discounted price of only $15 (you must become a member to go on a Natural Resources Foundation Field Trip). The trips themselves range in cost from FREE up to $100, but the great majority of these field trips seem to range between $12 – $30, so even with your membership fee, these are still a seriously good deal.
The higher-priced trips are fund-raisers for various good causes, so they still can be considered a good deal that provides you with a wonderful experience along with the opportunity to financially support a cause you care about!
Last year, for The Badger & the Whooping Crane I participated in NRF’s special Rare Bird Field Trip (which I reported on here), and this year there are 3 trips in late Spring in Door County, and I hope to participate in at least 2 of them.
On my rare bird trip last year I met, and enjoyed a conversation with the NRF’s Barb Barzen about the history of these field trips. Whose idea are these? When did they start? Were they always this numerous and popular? “You’ve come to the right person,” Barb told me in an email; “I was the first person hired by the NRF of WI back in 1988. . . . After four years of working around DNR staff in the Central Office (the NRF was initially set up and run, on a part-time basis, by DNR staff.) Barb began to think about the”very important and interesting work many in the DNR were doing,” and she began to envision a way for them to show the importance of this to a general audience of Wisconsin citizens and visitors.
“As a transplant from Minnesota, I also came to realize what a keen interest the citizenry of Wisconsin has in natural resources and nature-based activities in general,” said Barb.
Barb Barzen’s thinking and observations led to the offering of 3 field trips in 1993, and she remembered them all, sharing these details of each trip: “seeing the Trumpeter Swan Recovery Program in action at the Mead Wildlife Area with Sumner Matteson and Becky Abel; hiking Rush Creek State Natural Area in the Mississippi Bluffs with Mark Martin; and howling for wolves with Adrian Wydeven.”
In the years that quickly followed, the program expanded by leaps. “I ran it for five years,” said Barb, “and then hired Christine Tanzer to take it from there. The best thing I ever did. Christine has carefully and masterfully grown the program to the point of offering 151 trips this year.”