Conservation Grants and Wisconsin’s Best Places: News from the NRF

This post which began as one of several items for a “roundup” or summer notes, has grown into five separate posts, to be published one at a time these first weeks of August.

Help Fund Your Group’s Conservation Efforts With an NRF Grant

Each year the Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin gives numerous small matching grants to local conservation groups that have a plan and a program for enhancing natural resources within their particular jurisdictions. There is still a bit of time for interested groups to apply for such a grant for 2016: applications are due by September 1st.

The Natural Resources Foundation is a partner to Wisconsin’s DNR. It was created in 1986 and ever since, it has dedicated itself to its stated mission: boosting “private sector investment and involvement in state managed natural resources: our waters, lands, and wildlife.” There are two specific grants that can be applied for now, before the September 1st deadline. The first, the C.D. Besadny Conversation Grant Program, was founded in 1990 as a tribute to the former DNR Secretary “Buzz” Besadny, who had a distinguished 42-year career at the DNR.

Over the years this fund, now 25 years old, has granted $420,000 to more than 500 groups, representing every county in the state. “On average we get about 50 applications for the Besadny Conservation Grant each year,” I was told by Lindsay Mayer, NRF’s communications director. Many of the grants arrive at NRF close to the Sept. 1 deadline, she added. (So, if you are part of a group with a project in need of financial assistance, yes, there’s still time to make an application for funding!)

The second type of grant available is the Teachers Outdoor Environmental Education Fund (for public school, K-12, teachers). This grant was founded in 2010 by Pete Oslind in memory of his wife, Sue Spaeth, a 30-year veteran elementary teacher, who harbored a particular commitment to environmental education. To date this fund has generated nearly $10,000 in giving, to more than a dozen projects.

It’s important to emphasize that all of these funds have been given as small, matching donations – no single grant is more than $1,000. They benefit local conservation groups and projects. You can see, at this link, the full list of grants given for 2015. Here are three examples: the Navarino Nature Center in Shiocton received a grant for boardwalk signage at Glen’s Pond; the Catholic Multicultural Center in Madison received a grant for a community environmental program; and the school district of New Berlin, WI, received a grant for its comprehensive recycling program.

Natural Resource Foundations Members Identify Wisconsin’s “Best Places”

Just announced by the NRF:  the “Best of the Best” in Wisconsin for all your outdoor recreation pursuits.  In July the Foundation surveyed its members for their opinions on the best places for running, hiking, biking, canoeing, kayaking, swimming and canoeing.  Devil’s Lake State Park claimed two of the honors: the best place to swim, and to hike. Visit the NRF blog, for the other results, great photos of  the top choices.

Camping, Kayaking, or Canoeing? Wisconsin's got great places for that, and more. (A Badger & Whooping Crane photo)

Camping, Kayaking, or Canoeing? Wisconsin’s got great places for that, and more. (A Badger & Whooping Crane photo)


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