Preserving the Natural History of Fond du Lac County

Restored with seeds collected from plants found in the last original prairie remnants in Fond du LacCounty, the 42-acre prairie located on the UW-Fond du Lac campus serves as a living snapshot of the wildlife and colorful landscape that was once common to this region. Adding a 4.5 acre formal arboretum representing eight types of Wisconsin forest communities, the Gottfried Prairie and Arboretum provides a unique opportunity for education and the enjoyment of our natural heritage.

The project began in 1990 when a group of students and staff at UW-Fond du Lac approached Dean Bradley Gottfried with an idea to establish a prairie on campus. The majority of the land surrounding the campus was open lawn which provided no ecological benefit and was costly to mow and maintain. With the help of Bill Volkert, a naturalist with the Department of Natural Resources in Horicon, and the UW-Madison landscape architecture program, a plan was prepared and in 1992 the first 20 acres of native prairie grasses and wildflowers were planted by volunteers. Since then the prairie has grown to include an additional 22 acres, a formal arboretum, interpretive hiking trails, a bike path, a shelter with an informative kiosk, two native wildflower display gardens, and a wildlife pond. All projects have been funded with private donations and grants.

Today the Gottfried Prairie and Arboretum is managed by a board comprised of educators, ecologists, and wildlife enthusiasts in conjunction with UW-Fond du Lac and the Fond du LacCounty Board.

The prairie is home to many species of invertebrates, birds, and small mammals, but the mission of the Gottfried Prairie and Arboretum extends beyond maintaining a wildlife habitat. The board offers a monthly series of environmental programs on a wide variety of topics, including seed collecting; minimizing the spread of invasive plants; identifying birds and insects; and establishing a native wildflower garden at home.

The Gottfried Prairie and Arboretum also hosts an annual Prairie Fest, held the last Saturday in July. Prairie Fest is a family event with activities for children, prairie tours, arts and crafts, and educational programs. Prairie Fest is an opportunity for families to come and enjoy may different kinds of programs for free.

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Our Mission

To reestablish, for future generations, the native prairie and representative plant communities for the purpose of education, wildlife habitat, and public enjoyment.

Open Meetings

The Gottfried Prairie and Arboretum board meets at 5:30 PM on the first Monday of every month. Meetings are open to the public and are held in room AE-136 at the UW-Fond du Lac Campus, 400 University Drive. Meetings dates and times are subject to change. If you are planning to attend a meeting please let us know via our contact page and we will do our best to keep you informed of any last-minute changes.