Welcome to the Gottfried Prairie and Arboretum

At one time, most of Fond du Lac County was covered by prairie -- native grasslands that were home to bison, prairie chickens, bobolinks and other wildlife. At the Gottfried Prairie and Arboretum on the UW-Fond du Lac campus, a group of volunteers has reestablished the native plants that once grew on this site.

The project began in 1991, with the goal of representing the original plant communities of Wisconsin in a small arboretum. At present, volunteers have planted 42 acres of native prairie grasses and wildflowers, developed two wildlife ponds and planted 176 native trees and shrubs. Most of the wildflower seeds were collected from some of the last remaining original prairie sites in Fond du Lac County. To educate local residents there's an interpretive trail as well as six benches, two picnic tables, and a kiosk for recreation.

The Formal Arboretum is an innovative attempt to depict the native plants and plant communities of Wisconsin in a design representing the "Tension Zone" of our state. This is the area of overlap of northern and southern Wisconsin plant communities, which occurs in the Fond du Lac area. It consists of savannah, lowland forests and northern mixed forests, plus their associated wildflowers.

The Gottfried Prairie and Arboretum is named for Bradley Gottfried, former dean of UW-Fond du Lac, and a major force behind the project's initiation and development. Dean Gottfried's vision and persistence have resulted in the restoration of a portion of native prairie for county residents to enjoy.

Educational Programs

Natural Garden Design

Molly Fifield-Murray
Wednesday, April 16, 2014, 7 pm
Room UC114 University Center


Using nature's example, you can create beautiful, diverse gardens drawing upon species naturally adapted to our area. This program will cover plant choices, planting methods, soil characteristics and design for your garden.

Molly Fifield-Murray has been the Outreach and Education Manager at the UW Madison Arboretum for 21 years. Trained in landscape restoration and native garden design by Darrel Morrison and Evelyn Howell, she has taught about and designed native wildflower gardens as both an educator and design consultant.

Creative Writing About the Natural World

Dr. Mary Linton
Wednesday, May 21, 2014, 6:30 pm
Room UC114 University Center


Ask William Butler Yeats or Mary Oliver and they will tell you that the natural world and poetry go together like peanut butter and jelly, Wisconsin and a Friday fish fry. We'll start with the natural world, move to haiku, and finish with longer poetry. Experienced naturalists and newcomers welcome. Bring a notebook, favorite writing implement, and appropriate clothing for any sort of weather.
Mary Linton is a wetland ecologist, teacher and poet from Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin. As far as she is concerned, a day mucking about a fertile wetland could not be better spent. Well, maybe a day in the arms of a tall white pine might come close. Her poetry has appeared in Appalachia, Aethlon, Blueline, Builder, Country Feedback Magazine, Farming Magazine, Fourth River, Friend's'Journal, Hummingbird, Poetry Motel, Seeding the Snow, Solitary Plover, and Verse Wisconsin.

Introduction to Permaculture for the Average Homemaker

Dr. Mai Phillips
Wednesday, June 18, 2014, 7 pm
Room UC114 University Center


For most, embracing sustainability as the guiding principle for how humans could continue to exist without depleting the Earth's resources and thus contributing to their own survival is easy to accept intellectually. The more daunting task is how to translate sustainability into action and that is what permaculture is all about. Permaculture originally came from "permanent agriculture" but has come to mean "permanent culture." It is a way of living on earth without destroying the planet. While it is usually applied in broad scale systems, permaculture works well at the individual level.

Dr. Mai Phillips is the Coordinator of the Conservation and Environmental Science (CES) Program at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (UWM). Her research specialties include plant genetic resources conservation; plant domestication and origins; and the genetics of invasive species. Prior to joining the CES Program at UWM, she worked as a Senior Scientist at the Global Environmental Management (GEM) Education Center, UW-Stevens Point.