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Previous Programs

Wisconsin’s Green Fire 2022 Field Forums

This summer, Wisconsin's Green Fire hosted a series of our field forums across the state, featuring WGF member experts, together with partners, policy makers, and local stakeholders in the field. These forums provided a space for sharing ideas, learning from others, and exploring far-reaching solutions to priority conservation issues.   

Wisconsin’s Green Fire 2022 Regional Conservation Socials

WGF members and friends gathered around Wisconsin this fall to celebrate our conservation successes, tip a glass, and greet each other in person once again.

WGF Group at CWES May 2019
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Stay Connected   Get Outside While You're Inside    Dive Deep on Issues 


November 15, 2022

WGF 2022 Annual Meeting

On November 15, 2022, Wisconsin’s Green Fire held our Annual Meeting and five-year anniversary celebration via Zoom! During the meeting, we shared updates on WGF’s work in the past year, reflected on conservation successes across Wisconsin, and shared plans for the year ahead. Some highlights include:

  • Two members of our Aspiring Conservation Professionals Work Group shared how WGF has helped them in their careers in conservation.
  • Five expert members shared recent conservation successes across Wisconsin, and updates on WGF work in PFAS, wolves, agriculture, energy policy, and public trust issues. Click here to view Adrian Wydeven's slides.
  • WGF's Executive Director Fred Clark and Legislative Liaison Paul Heinen shared updates on the implications of the most recent state election, and WGF’s recent Imbalance of Power Opportunities Now report.

November 10, 2022

WGF Climate Change Work Group Meeting

On November 10th, WGF's Climate Change Work Group Chair, Nancy Turyk, and WGF leaders led our quarterly work group meeting, discussing the following highlights: 

  • Reflections from the Climate Fast Forward Conference that recently took place in Madison.
  • Information about new climate change and energy policy-related initiatives and projects that WGF is pursuing with help from students.
  • Implications for action on renewable energy and climate change following the Nov. 8th midterm election from Paul Heinen, WGF’s Policy Liaison, and Scott Coenen, Wisconsin Conservative Energy Forum Executive Director.

November 9, 2022

Wisconsin Chapter of The Wildlife Society Brown Bag Webinar: WGF - Partnership Opportunities in Wildlife

WGF's Wildlife Work Group co-chair Tom Hauge, Legislative Liaison Paul Heinen, and Communications and Outreach Coordinator Jenny Washam joined the Wisconsin Chapter of the Wildlife Society for a lunchtime webinar on November 9th. They shared the mission of WGF, opportunities for partnerships with The Wisconsin Chapter of the Wildlife Society, and work for next-generation conservation leaders. Paul Heinen also shared comments on the legislative outreach done by WGF and impacts of the 2022 elections.


October 19, 2022

Imbalance of Power Webinar

On October 19th, Wisconsin's Green Fire hosted a webinar on our recent Opportunities Now report, Imbalance of Power: How Wisconsin is Failing Citizens in Conserving Natural Resources and Protecting our EnvironmentThe paper addresses the collective effects of state legislative actions, court rulings, and political practices that have undermined democratic processes and profoundly changed the way state government in Wisconsin operates.

The webinar featured six panelists who provided diverse perspectives on the effects of broken environmental rulemaking in Wisconsin. Panelists included: 

  • Fred Clark, WGF Executive Director
  • Paul Heinen, WGF Legislative Liaison
  • Lisa and Tor Anderson, Town of Nelsonville, WI
  • Meleesa Johnson, Director of Marathon County, WI Solid Waste Department
  • Mark Thimke, Environmental Lawyer (Ret.) and Co-chair of WGF Contaminants of Emerging Concern Work Group. 
Photo credit: Don Behm

May 12, 2022

Wisconsin's Clean Energy Plan - Opportunities for Wisconsin's Green Fire Impact Webinar

On May 12, 2022, Wisconsin's Green Fire hosted a webinar with WGF Energy Work Group member Keith Reopelle, moderated by Energy Work Group co-chair Gary Radloff. In this 75-minute webinar, Keith discussed Wisconsin's first clean energy plan (CEP). The CEP, released on April 20, 2022, puts Wisconsin on the path to 100 percent carbon-free electricity by 2050. The plan prioritizes the core values of justice, equity, and collective action, and emphasizes four key pathways for creating momentum towards achieving a clean energy economy: accelerate clean energy technology deployment, maximize energy efficiency, modernize buildings and industry, and innovate transportation.

Keith also serves as the Advanced Program and Policy Analyst with the Wisconsin Office of Sustainability and Clean Energy (OSCE), and was one of the lead authors of the CEP. The webinar included Keith's presentation on strategies presented in the CEP, and an engaging discussion with webinar attendees about how WGF can best support these strategies through its own work.

New Head Shot - 2020

January 27, 2022

Confessions of a Recovering Bureaucrat: A WGF Conversation with Todd Ambs

There are few people in the history of Wisconsin conservationists who've served in as many roles as effectively as Todd Ambs. Todd retired in December as the Deputy Secretary of Wisconsin DNR, capping an over 40-year career in and around the waters of the Great Lakes and beyond. In his latest role serving in the Evers administration, Todd led one of Wisconsin's largest state agencies. He navigated controversial issues such as wolf hunting and PFAS contamination, as well as intensely partisan events around conservation governance, with the last two years of that time during the midst of a global pandemic.

In this free-wheeling conversation with WGF Executive Director Fred Clark, Todd shares his reflections on his career in conservation in Wisconsin and beyond, and his hopes for the future of conservation governance in Wisconsin. 

MKE lakeshore

January 19, 2022

Public Rights in Milwaukee's Fresh Coast

Wisconsin’s Green Fire co-sponsored a webinar on January 19th with the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Center for Water Policy and the State Bar of Wisconsin, featuring six expert panelists who offered diverse perspectives on the public trust doctrine and how it influences Milwaukee’s Fresh Coast. Often overlooked, much of the city’s coastline and riverfronts are not original — they’re built on lakebed or riverbed that has been filled to create new land, meaning they are governed under the public trust doctrine.

The six panelists addressed questions about the implications of the public trust doctrine on public rights, land development, funding, policy, and governance affecting Milwaukee's iconic waterfront. 

Panelists included Michael Cain, WGF Board Member and Public Trust and Wetland Work Group Co-Chair, along with:

  • John Gurda, Writer and Historian, author of “Milwaukee: A City Built on Water”
  • Brenda Coley, Co-Executive Director, Milwaukee Water Commons
  • Michael Kowalkowski, Attorney, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources
  • Toni Herkert, Government Affairs Director, League of Wisconsin Municipalities
  • Sarah Martinez, Water Policy Specialist, Center for Water Policy

Click here to view the slides from Michael's presentation, and here to view supplemental materials for his presentation.  

Deer2 credit Jerry Davis

November 17th, 2021

Meeting Wisconsin's Deer Conservation Challenges

Wisconsin’s Green Fire (WGF) and the Wisconsin Chapter of Backcountry Hunters and Anglers (BHA) hosted a panel discussion on opportunities for Wisconsin to improve the management and conservation of its iconic white-tailed deer herd. Leaders from BHA and member experts from WGF discussed the stressors and intermingling factors threatening the deer herd and present a vision for better long-term management. Topics discussed included deer management in Wisconsin, how deer browsing can harm forests, farms, and alter ecosystems, what we can do to slow the spread of Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD), and opportunities for Wisconsin to manage deer through responsible hunting. 

Panelists included:

  • Keith McCaffery, State Deer Research Biologist (Retired), WGF Opportunities Now author 
  • Don Waller, Conservation Biologist, WGF Opportunities Now author 
  • Mike SamuelWildlife Disease Ecologist, WGF Opportunities Now author
  • Noah Wishau, Wisconsin State Co-Chair, Backcountry Hunters and Anglers (BHA)

On June 29, 2021, Wisconsin’s Green Fire released the report: Opportunities Now 2021-2023: Meeting Wisconsin’s Deer Conservation Challenges.  



September 23rd, 2021

Wisconsin Conservation: Today's Challenges and Tomorrow's Leaders

Christine Thomas, Keynote Speaker

Our WGF 2021 Annual Meeting focused on the state of our conservation tradition, with a special focus on the students and young professionals joining today’s conservation movement. Our keynote speaker Christine Thomas shared her long experience as Dean of the College of Natural Resources at UW-Stevens Point and her tenure on the Wisconsin Natural Resources Board. We heard from the leaders of our recently formed Student and Young Professionals group. And we offered breakout sessions to hear from our member experts on issues ranging from climate change and clean energy to the future of our deer and wolf populations.  We also shared results from our recent WGF member’s survey. You can watch Christine's keynote address and the inspirational closing by our students and young professionals at the links below!

August Ball headshot

Centering Equity in Conservation Workshop Series

Understanding Racial Equity and Inclusion in Conservation 101
September 16, 2020, 4-6:30 p.m.

Compounded disparities impact communities of color in every corner of society, be it socio-economic, political, educational, health, etc. This workshop will provide the history of the construction of race, a key component in driving these inequities. The goal of this workshop is to help participants understand why these inequities exist, so we can do something about them.

Foundations of Internalized Racism
November 11, 2020, 4-6 p.m. 

This session will help participants understand why power dynamics exist amongst racial identities. As a follow up to the historical context set in Racial Equity 101, this session will guide participants in assessing the impact of race on individual socialization and exam our role and agency. This session will help participants create change, building a learning community grounded in vulnerability and trust that allows the collective to reflect, strategize and change. 

Decentering White Dominant Culture
January 13, 2021, 4-6 p.m.

In this workshop, we will practice identifying the various attributes of white dominant culture in both the working environment and in personal behaviors. Participants will leave with an understanding of how white dominant culture harms us as individuals and harms our colleagues; and an ability to envision alternative cultures.

  • Understand the definition and components of White Dominant Culture
  • Recognize and evaluate harm done to self and others
  • Examine characteristics of white fragility and racial battle fatigue
  • Articulate alternative practices/cultures that mitigate trauma and foster a thriving environment
DEI Sponsors

The Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin, Gathering Waters, and Wisconsin’s Green Fire are partnering to offer a diversity, equity and inclusion workshop series for our staff, board, members, and partners.

Creating a 21st Century Energy Policy in Wisconsin March 31 2021

March 31st, 2021

The Future is Now: Creating a 21st Century Energy Policy in Wisconsin

Join Wisconsin’s Green Fire for a 90-minute panel discussion on opportunities for Wisconsin to chart a path towards an energy system that is cleaner, more reliable, more equitable, and increasingly decentralized. WGF welcomes energy experts from RENEW Wisconsin and the Midwest Renewable Energy Association (MREA) to discuss the future of clean, renewable energy in Wisconsin and policy opportunities that exist to enact change. Learn how energy consumers can benefit from new policies and investments, how third-party financing can help propel local renewable energy generation, and get a glimpse of Wisconsin’s new State Energy Plan 

Bring your questions for a lively Q&A session with our panelists:  

  • Heather Allen, Executive Director, RENEW Wisconsin 
  • Nick Hylla, Executive Director, Midwest Renewable Energy Association (MREA) 
  • Keith Reopelle, Clean Energy Consultant and Member of Wisconsin’s Green Fire

When: Wednesday, March 31st, from 11:00 am-12:30 pm
Where: Online

On March 3rd, 2021, Wisconsin’s Green Fire released the report: Opportunities Now 2021-2023: The Future is Now – Creating a 21st Century Energy Policy  

Feburary 25th, 2021

PFAS: Past, Present, and Future – Forever Chemicals in Wisconsin

Join co-hosts Wisconsin’s Green Fire and Clean Wisconsin along with Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources leaders on Thursday, February 25, at 11 am for a 90-minute webinar on PFAS: Past, Present, and Future – Forever Chemicals in Wisconsin.  Learn all about PFAS in Wisconsin including the history, fate, and transport of these chemicals; the latest proposals in the Governor’s 2021 State Budget and action items outlined in the Wisconsin PFAS Action Plan; and key policy recommendations and opportunities for the near and long term. Bring your questions for a lively Q&A session with our panelists.

For additional reading and information on PFAS in Wisconsin, please check out:

PFAS: Forever Chemicals in Wisconsin — Wisconsin’s Green Fire Opportunities Now 2021-2023 Report on PFAS

Clean Wisconsin’s Video: A Crisis of Contamination

Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources PFAS webpage and Wisconsin PFAS Action Plan

Panelists: John Robinson, Wisconsin’s Green Fire
Darsi Foss and Mimi Johnson, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources
Carly Michiels, Clean Wisconsin
When: Thursday, February 25th, from 11:00am-12:30pm
Where: Online

Collin Omara Headshot

Feburary 10th, 2021

Conservation Policy in the Biden Administration

President Joe Biden and his team are moving quickly to implement an historic conservation agenda with a strong focus on climate change, environmental justice,  and land conservation. Collin O'Mara, President and CEO of the National Wildlife Federation, will join us for this special program to outline the Biden/Harris administration's agenda, with a particular focus on what it means for Wisconsin and our region. Wisconsin conservationist Kathleen Falk will moderate our 90-minute conversation and field questions from participants.

In his role with National Wildlife Federation, Mr. O'Mara leads a coalition of conservation organizations engaged with the Biden/Harris transition and the new administration. He'll speak about the agenda for climate, land and water conservation, environmental justice, and the outlook for environmental programs in the new administration.

Collin O’Mara serves as President and CEO of the National Wildlife Federation, America’s largest wildlife conservation organization with 53 state and territorial affiliates and nearly six million hunters, anglers, birders, gardeners, hikers, paddlers, and wildlife enthusiasts.

This program is co-hosted by Wisconsin's Green Fire and the Wisconsin Wildlife Federation, an NWF Affiliate. Audience size will be limited, and registration will close prior to the event, so be sure to register in advance.

Speaker:  Collin O'Mara, President and CEO National Wildlife Federation
When: Wednesday, February 10th, 1:00pm- 2:30pm
Where: Online

August 26, 2020

Opportunities for Collaboration: A Shared Vision for Wolves in Wisconsin

The Western Great Lakes states could soon see the federal de-listing of gray wolves which have made a historic comeback in Wisconsin since they were eradicated in the mid-1900sCurrent state legislation mandates a wolf hunt when the species is not listed under the Endangered Species Act and limits DNR, Tribes and the public from having input on when, where, how and if such harvests should occur. The most recently approved state wolf management plan from 1999 needs to be updated to include the latest ecological and social science in wolf conservation.  

This program featured a trio of expert panelists envisioning a future for wolves in Wisconsin. We covered the history of wolves and wolf management in Wisconsin, why ainclusive and transparent process is essential to effective wolf management, what public perceptions of wolves can tell us about coexistence, and how our neighbor, Minnesota, is managing its resident wolf population. 

Panelists: Adrian Wydeven, WGF Wildlife Co-Chair; Jodi Habush Sinykin, Midwest Environmental Advocates; Peter David, Great Lakes Indian Fish & Wildlife Commission  
When: Wednesday, August 26, 11:00am to 12:30pm
How: Program is closed and a recording is available. 

May 21, 2020

WGF Policy Forum: The Future Is Now! Moving Wisconsin into a 21st Century Energy System

Join us to learn how Wisconsin can modernize our energy system and re-imagine our energy future. New technologies are creating benefits for large and small scale energy users alike. Modernizing Wisconsin’s electrical grid will reduce energy waste, increase energy efficiency, and reduce our vulnerability to energy disruptions.

Wisconsin's Green Fire members Gary Radloff and Kerry Beheler will interview a panel of energy experts who will discuss the business case for renewable energy, the creation and benefits of local Energy Districts, and the politics of energy in Wisconsin. We'll showcase examples of successful policy in neighboring states.

Learn how you, as an energy consumer, can get involved and help shift Wisconsin energy into the 21st Century.

Panelists:  Scott Coenen, Wisconsin Conservative Energy Forum; Camille Kadoch, Regulatory Assistance Project; and Richard Cates, Iowa County Energy District.
When: Thursday May 21st, 11:00 AM - 12:00 PM
How: Space is Limited and Registration is Required.

April 30th, 2020

WGF Virtual Field Trip - Our Living Ancestors: The History and Ecology of Old Growth Forests in Wisconsin, with John Bates

Old-growth forests touch the souls of many people, but despite their remarkable emotional appeal and scientific value, very little true old-growth remains in Wisconsin. Naturalist John Bates walks through forests with us to ask why we cut nearly all of our old growth forests; why should we care about them; how much we have left; and where are the last remaining remnants. Join us for a spectacular afternoon among our living ancestors.
What: Our Living Ancestors: The History and Ecology of Old Growth Forests in Wisconsin
Who: John Bates
When: Thursday April 30th, 4:30 - 6:00 PM

April 23rd, 2020

WGF Policy Forum - Coming Down the Pipe: Oil Pipeline Regulations in Wisconsin

Oil pipelines in Wisconsin are subject to complex state and federal regulations. Attorney Rob Lee with Midwest Environmental Advocates and Nancy Larson and Tom Jerow of Wisconsin's Green Fire will review the different agencies with authority over pipeline construction and operation, and we will walk through different opportunities for members of the public to have their voices heard.  
What: Oil Pipeline Regulation in Wisconsin
Who: Rob Lee (MEA), Nancy Larson and Tom Jerow (WGF)
When: Thursday April 23rd, 4:30 - 6:00 PM
Robert Rolley and Karen Mesmer 2.jpeg

April 16th, 2020

WGF Virtual Field Trip - Voyage to the Bottom of the World: Penguins, Whales, and Ice

Join WGF members and career biologists Karen Mesmer and Robert Rolley on their recent adventure to the Falklands, South Georgia Islands and the Antarctic Peninsula as they kayak among whales, icebergs, and more penguins than Karen could count.
What: Voyage to the Bottom of the World: Penguins, Whales, and Ice
Who: Robert Rolley and Karen Mesmer
When: Thursday April 16th, 4:30 - 6:00 PM

April 9th, 2020

WGF Policy Forum - Science, Conservation, and the Coronavirus

Wisconsin conservation leaders will reflect on the lessons policy makers and the public can draw from current events. How could the social, political, and economic changes caused by a global pandemic affect our efforts to address climate change, clean water, and other conservation priorities?
Our panel includes Jennifer Giegerich (Wisconsin Conservation Voters), Jonathan Gilbert (Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission), Bob Martini (Wisconsin's Green Fire), George Meyer (Wisconsin Wildlife Federation), and Dr. Tim Van Deelen (University of Wisconsin - Madison).
Join us as we look ahead to new challenges and transformative possibilities in uncertain times.
What: Science, Conservation and the Coronavirus
Who: Jennifer Giegerich, Jonathan Gilbert, George Meyer, Bob Martini, Dr. Tim Van Deelen
When: Thursday April 9th, 4:30 - 6:00 PM

Past Events: 2020 Virtual Annual Meeting Mutiple dates in September


There is no charge for these programs, but we ask you to consider a special donation to help cover costs of bringing these programs to you.

2020 Annual Meeting

Age, Race, Politics, and Conservation Addressing the Elephants in the Room

Webinars September 9, 16, 23, 25, 26

As much as we enjoy getting together for our fall annual meeting, this year we are following a virtual format to keep everyone safe. Our annual meeting events are available to everyone. Join us for a bang up series of webinars by Zoom throughout September, exploring pressing issues for the conservation community and opportunities for Wisconsin’s Green Fire. On three Wednesday evenings (Sept 9, 16, 23) we will explore issues of race, equity, the concerns and interests of students, and hear from political leaders on what we can expect in 2021 and beyond. Spend a fascinating evening with our annual meeting keynote speaker, former U.S. Senator Russ Feingold, on Friday Sept. 25. Then join us for our virtual annual meeting on Saturday morning, Sept. 26 to hear the latest on WGF work and contribute your insights and ideas in our virtual break out groups.

Past Events: 2019 Annual Meeting October 4th & 5th

Working Together, Working Better, Wisconsin’s Green Fire 2019 Annual Meeting will be held on October 4th and 5th at the University of Wisconsin Stevens Point outdoor center and conservation camp at TreeHaven near Tomahawk. 

Our Annual Meeting will bring together many of Wisconsin’s most regarded conservation and environmental experts along with agency staff and inspired citizens.  Join us for learning, great ideas, and visiting old friends and making new ones.

Check out the latest on the program. At the Saturday business meeting, we will elect several new directors to the board of directors. Download a pdf of the board nominees. The board is bringing changes to the bylaws for review and approval by the members. See a summary of changes and download a pdf of the proposed amended bylaws.

Meeting Archives

Art by Terry Daulton