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.

Art in the Prairie

Wednesdays June 24th, July 1st, July 8th, July 15th from 10:00 AM to noon. 4weeks of exploring the arts in a natural setting. Nature walks and activities to inspire kids to get out in nature! Youth ages 8-12 welcome to sign up. There is a $20 total fee for supplies. Space is limited so contact wiscotmcd@hotmail.com for more information.

Educational Programs

Seed Collection Workshop's Photo

Seed Collection Workshop

Margie Winter
Saturday, October 17, 2015, 9 am to noon
Meet at the Gottfried Prairie and Arboretum Shelter

We will begin the workshop with a discussion on seeds, including when and how to collect them from your favorite native plants. Participants will walk through the prairie and learn how to identify wildflowers and grasses in the seed stage. They will collect and clean the seed heads while learning how to store and propagate the seed for growing plants.

Margie Winter taught high school science in the Fond du Lac School District and the Sun Prairie School District for a total of 31 years. For the last 2 years, Margie has taught an environmental science course and a prairie ecosystems and restoration course at Marian University. The prairie course is offered jointly to students from UW-FDL and Marian University and utilizes the Gottfried Prairie as an outdoor classroom.
Create a Winter Wreath and Swag's Photo

Create a Winter Wreath and Swag

Jackie Scharfenburg
Thursday, November 13 at 1 pm to 3:30 pm & 6 pm to 8:30 pm @IAC
Wednesday, November 19, 6 pm to 8:30 pm @ Lakeside Pavilion

Please note that this class will be offered at three separate times. Because of limited space, the first two will be at the Northern Kettle Moraine State Forest Ice Age Center near Dundee and the other at Lakeside Park Pavilion in Fond du Lac. Using a variety of natural materials, we will create a beautiful wreath and swag that will enhance your home's winter decor.  Please bring along a pruning shears and $15.00 to cover material costs. We will use the dried flower and grass seed heads from the prairie. Registration is required. Please call 920-313-0190.
Jackie Scharfenberg is a Forest Naturalist/Natural Resources Educator with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources the Kettle Moraine State Forest - Northern Unit.  She enjoys teaching all aspects of environmental education.  Her goal is to get people connected or re-connected with the natural world whether through creating a nature craft, learning something about nature, trying a new outdoor skill or experiencing nature first hand.

Luminary Holiday Walk

Sunday, December 13, 2015 4:30 pm - 7:30 pm
Walk starts at either of the bike trail entrances on Campus Dr. or Ducharme Dr.

Enjoy the Gottfried Prairie as you have never seen it. Luminaries will light your way through the prairie for this self guided walk. The sounds of nature and voices of carolers will keep you warm as you meander through the glow of the luminaries.