Rendezvous on the Terrace

Celebrating Environmental Professional Programs

University of Wisconsin-Madison 175th anniversaryThursday, Sept. 28, and Friday, Sept. 29, 2023

Catch up with old friends, meet fellow alumni, and connect with current Nelson Institute students, faculty, and staff and the annual Rendezvous on the Terrace!

At this year’s event, we’ll be celebrating a special Nelson milestone: the 10th anniversary of our environmental professional programs! We hope you can join us in Madison for a day and a half of programming leading up to the Friday evening gathering. Learn more about all of the ways you can reconnect with the Nelson Institute — and celebrate EnviroPros@10!

Register now

Meet at the Terrace!

Rendezvous on the Terrace

Friday, Sept. 29
5–7:30 p.m.
Tripp Commons, Memorial Union
800 Langdon Street

Join Nelson Institute alumni and friends for a reception at Memorial Union. You’ll also have the chance to meet our 2023 alumni award recipients, who will be honored at the event.

This event is free and open to all Nelson Institute alumni and friends, as well as our graduating seniors. Registration required

Celebrate EnviroPros@10

Weston Roundtable

Thursday, Sept. 28
4:15–5:15 p.m.
1153 Mechanical Engineering
1513 University Avenue

Kick off the Rendezvous festivities with a special Weston Roundtable lecture, cohosted by the Nelson Institute’s environmental professional programs and the Center for Sustainability and the Global Environment. Speaker information coming soon.

This event is free and open to the public; no registration is required.

EnviroPros@10 Reunion

Thursday, Sept. 28
5:30–7:30 p.m.
Steenbock’s on Orchard
Wisconsin Institute of Discovery Building
330 N. Orchard Street

Alumni of the environmental professional programs are invited to join Nelson faculty and staff for food and drinks following the Weston Roundtable Lecture.

This event is only open to alumni of the environmental conservation, environmental observation and informatics, conservation biology and sustainable development, and environmental monitoring programs. If you’d like to attend, please contact Alessandra Rella at

EnviroPros@10 Panel Discussions

Friday, Sept. 29
9:30 a.m.–3 p.m.
AT&T Lounge, Pyle Center
702 Langdon Street

Also available virtually

Bolster your career and environmental knowledge with three in-person panels, featuring alumni of the environmental conservation and environmental observation and informatics programs. Full programming coming soon.

This event is free and open to all Nelson Institute alumni and friends. Registration required

Current UW–Madison students are welcome to drop in without pre-registering.

Support the Nelson Institute

Nelson Institute Day of Giving

Friday, Sept. 29
Wherever you are!

If you can’t make it back to Madison — or want to go above and beyond! — consider making a gift to support our environmental professional programs in celebration of their 10th anniversary. With more than 11,000 people in the global Nelson community, we can make an incredible impact together! Gifts of any amount are needed and appreciated.

About Environmental Professional Programs

The Nelson Institute’s environmental professional programs house two distinct MS programs: environmental conservation and environmental observation and informatics. As professional programs — rather than thesis programs — these courses of study give early and mid-career professionals a fast track to advanced skills and expertise that help them become leaders in their fields. Both programs grew out of the previous environmental monitoring and conservation biology and sustainable development programs, which ran from 1978–2012 and 1990–2015 respectively.

The first program — environmental conservation — accepted its first applications in the fall of 2013. “We’re creating a new kind of conservation practitioner,” said Dean Paul Robbins of the program’s creation. “We’re going to change the way people do conservation and the way they work with communities. To do that, you have to change the way you train people.”

As satellite and drone expertise went from unique to necessary, the environmental observation and informatics opened in 2017. “With the explosion of new technologies in Earth observation and big data, our goal is less to teach students every technology, but rather to build student capacity to identify and integrate these different technologies toward solutions for the environmental challenges we face today,” said Janet Silbernagel, the former professional programs director.

As the environmental professional programs celebrate their 10th anniversary, the curricula of both programs has become more and more relevant to the current environmental and workforce landscape. “Over these past 10 years,” says current program director Nathan Schulfer, “we’ve seen the professional training and coursework that we provide students becoming even more important, as more people and more organizations commit themselves to sustaining the built and natural environments around them.”

Meet Our Students and Alumni

Patterson in Bagaces, Costa Rica at the Palo Verde Research Station during her tropical ecology field course during the summer of 2015. Photo courtesy of Linnea Patterson

From Lab Work to Land Management

For Linnea Patterson, studying biology was — well, in her biology. With both her parents and stepdad working as biologists, ...

Geospatial Skills in a Complex World

Geospatial tools help decision makers apply data to help solve complex problems. Whether the problem is environmental, social, or health ...
Screenshot of JavaScript code

Cracking the Code: Harnessing Computer Programming for the Environment

The field of earth observation is data-intensive. Hundreds of terabytes of data are generated each day. While computer science and ...

Top Podcasts in Earth Observation

There is no shortage of ways to learn about a topic, and Earth observation is no different! Thanks to scientists ...

Read more student stories