Marlin J

The University of Wisconsin-Waukesha Field Station stays true to its past, while keeping an eye on the future. During every season on the 98 acres of the University of Wisconsin-Waukesha Field Station,
I and my friends create a classroom on the land. On this 1840s southern Wisconsin farmstead – once home only to abandoned cornfields and weeds – the land’s pre-agricultural roots slowly take form.
In my fight to preserve the land for future generations to learn from and enjoy, seeds are collected, and seeds are dispersed. Trees are planted, and the fight against invasive species and weeds continues. The goal? To create a vibrant outdoor classroom where the land’s natural ecology perseveres.
For more than 45 years, I have called the UW-Waukesha Field Station home. I moved into the property’s old farmhouse in 1970, three years after Gertrude Sherman donated the land to the University of Wisconsin. In the Field Station, I saw the potential not only to restore ecological diversity and preserve a beautiful space, but also to create a vibrant learning community for students and the public.
This has been my dream come true. The work we do at the Field Station is meant to maximize the teaching value of the land. One of the best things about this is that as long as the University survives, this survives. We can look back 300 hundred years from now and it’ll still be here.
At the heart of all of the work is a mission to help students and visitors gain a better understanding and appreciation of the natural world. Students at UW-Waukesha and local high schools have used the Field Station as part of their biology and ecology coursework. Every year, UW-Extension holds classes on nature photography, art, and writing at the Field Station. Yearly summer camps for kids also explore the property’s birds, insect and aquatic life.
The Field Station isn’t only for students. The public is welcome to explore the property and surroundings on their own, admission free. The popular Ice Age Trail and Glacial Drumlin State Trail also cut through the property, expanding the recreational opportunities.
While both the physical and educational work at the Field Station is ongoing, for me, it’s the consistent attention to the land that ensures its existence for future generations. Every year, we do something new at the Field Station. You’ll burn a section of the prairie, and then plant another. We get people involved. The end product isn’t always the most important thing, but we want people involved in the process.”