–submitted by Andrea Kaminski; photos by Karl Gutknecht
Many things brought a group of 10 Rotarians and guests to the Aldo Leopold Nature Center on Saturday, October 22. Did you know Debbie Gilpin is on the Nature Center’s board? Frank Stein quipped that only one tree grows in Brooklyn, where he grew up, and therefore he loves being among the trees in Wisconsin. Herman Baumann grew up not far from Brooklyn in New Jersey, and he became an outdoorsman and conservation writer after he moved here. Jeff Tews served on the Rotary Community Grants Committee when it made a grant to support the Center’s Campfire Fund, making it possible for 5 out of 14 economically-challenged children to attend summer camps at the Center this year. The rest of us simply were inspired by the opportunity to take a walk in this natural gem in an urban area on a beautiful fall day.
Karl Gutknecht organized the outing and arranged for a guided tour of the property by Kelley Van Egeren, Director of Development and Stewardship. Kelley claimed to have the best job in the world, and she’s had it for 15 years. She loves the Center’s mission to connect kids, and all visitors, to nature.
Aldo Leopold Nature Center offers 21 acres of oak savanna, wetlands, prairies and woodlands, and it serves more than 20,000 kids per year. On our walk we encountered a group of Eagle Scouts engaged in a work project. They had obtained donated materials and were working to seat and build new workbenches near the pond. Several Brownies were busy identifying pond critters at a similar workbench nearby.
We finished our tour at a replica of Aldo Leopold’s home. Kelley explained that Leopold and his wife used a suspended, old-fashioned snow fence – the kind with wooden slats – as a bed for their five children. I wish I’d known about that 35 years ago. We could have saved a bundle on bedding for our kids!
Hiking Fellowship Downtown Rotarians and guests (front kneeling from left) Jeff Tews, Karl Gutknecht, and Deb Gilpin. (Standing from left) Kelley Van Egeren, Aldo Leopold Nature Center; Leslie Overton, Dean Nelson, Herman Baumann, Susan Rather, Andrea Kaminski, Kay Schwichtenberg, and Frank Stein.