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Advancing Nelson

Supporting signature public events, scholarship recipients, and Red Envelope fun

September 20, 2016


Earth Day 2020 Legacy Campaign Continues

Please consider making a gift in 2016

On April 25 at the 10th annual Earth Day Conference, the Nelson Institute celebrated Gaylord Nelson and his legacy. We also formally debuted a campaign video for the Earth Day 2020 Legacy Campaign, meant to secure the future of our signature Earth Day Conference to the year 2020 (the 50th anniversary of Earth Day) and beyond.

If you haven’t had the opportunity to view this two-minute video, featuring Nelson Institute Director Paul Robbins and Centennial Circle founding donors Sal Troia and Tia Nelson, we encourage you to do so:

All donors who make a gift to the Earth Day Event Fund during calendar year 2016 will be recognized as members of the Centennial Circle, a giving circle founded to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Gaylord Nelson’s birth. Gifts in any amount are needed and appreciated.


Centennial Circle donors through May 31

Founding donors
Individual donors
Carrie Lee, Gaylord Jr., Tia, and Jeff Nelson James and Elizabeth Bailey
Sal and Judy Troia John and Gisela Brogan
  William Cherkasky
Corporate donors Pat and Dan Cornwell
American Transmission Company LLC Barbara Smith Eagleton
Allen Centennial Gardens Don Ferber
Alliant Energy Janet and Derrick Gee
American Family Insurance Fritz and Janice Grutzner
Gathering Waters Carol and Richard Karls
Lands’ End, Inc. William Meadows and Sally Brooks Meadows
Laurie Carlson Progressive Ideas Forum Steven and Marcia Pomplun
Madison Gas & Electric Foundation Lewis and Vicki Posekany
Nelson Institute Center for Climatic Research George Reistad
Nelson Center for Sustainability and the Global Environment Jeff Rudd
UW Global Health Institute Nancy Schanke
UW Holtz Center Sherman and Sally Stock
UW Office of Sustainability  
Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation  


Nelson Institute Centennial Circle founding donors
Centennial Circle founding donors gather at the 10th annual Earth Day Conference. From left to right, seated, are Sal and Judy Troia and Tia Nelson; and standing: Chuck and Bonnie Dykman, Richard and Carol Karls, Bill Hantke and Leslie Ladd, Betsy and Bill Tishler, and Janice and Fritz Grutzner.


New way to connect and support

The Nelson Institute brings together environmentally minded faculty, staff and students from every corner of the UW-Madison community and creates a dynamic place to study and work. In April, the institute unveiled new web pages that make it easier than ever to learn about, connect with and support Nelson initiatives, programs and centers.

Please visit to meet our leaders and to learn how you can support the Nelson Institute and help to educate and prepare new environmental citizens – the future leaders who will embrace the opportunities and tackle the challenges of our ever-changing planet. Contributions of time, talent, connections to new networks, and financial gifts are all needed and appreciated.


Director Robbins to visit D.C. in November

Did you know that the Nelson Institute has the highest concentration of alumni from any UW-Madison school or college living in the Washington, D.C. area?

Nelson Institute Director Paul Robbins and UW International Division Dean Guido Podesta plan to visit D.C. together in November, joined by alumni relations manager Emily Reynolds. They look forward to visiting with alumni and friends of the institute and discussing future opportunities to engage with students and fellow alumni. Details will follow by email to D.C.-area alumni.

Nelson Institute acknowledged for staff philanthropy

Each year, all UW-Madison, State of Wisconsin and UW Health employees are asked to participate in the State Employees Combined Campaign (SECC; known in Dane County as the Partners in Giving Campaign), which provides support to more than 500 local, state, national and international charitable organizations.

The Nelson Institute, due in large part to Kelly Conforti Rupp’s efforts, received an award from SECC organizers in recognition of a large increase in Nelson staff participation over past years.



The Nelson Institute awarded 13 student scholarships last spring, all of which were made possible through the generosity of private donors.

Charles G. Meyer Undergraduate Travel Award

This scholarship provides support to Nelson Institute undergraduate students who are participating in certified, for-credit study abroad programs that include a significant environmental component. The 2016, inaugural recipient was Abby Lois, who will study abroad at the University of Iceland in the fall semester.

William R. Dahlke Scholarship

This scholarship provides need-based support to Nelson Institute students, particularly those in the Community Environmental Scholars Program. The 2016 recipients were Gregorio Abrajan, Iffat Bhuiyan, Mirelle Goetz, Sarah Hennessy, and Adam Mastalir.

Cal DeWitt Scholarship

This scholarship was established in honor of Professor Cal DeWitt on the occasion of his retirement from the Nelson Institute. DeWitt’s research explored the relation of environ- mental studies to religion or spiritualism, so students working in this area are given special consideration for this scholarship. The 2016, inaugural recipients were Elissa Koppel and Suzan Limberg.

Kikkoman Environmental Studies Scholarship

The Kikkoman Environmental Studies Scholarship provides financial support to undergraduate students enrolled in the undergraduate major or certificate in environmental studies. The 2016 recipient was Erin Bartenstein.

Linda Wernecke Marshall Graduate Award in Environmental Studies

This scholarship provides financial support to Nelson Institute graduate students working in areas of transformative education, public environmental literacy, or outreach to diverse stakeholder groups (e.g., agricultural or business leadership) around environmental issues in the United States or Canada. The 2016 recipients were Kathryn Anderson, Maribeth Kniffin, Alexandra Lakind, and Vera Pfeiffer.

2016 Nelson Institute scholarship recipients
Several scholarship recipients celebrate with Bucky Badger at the Nelson Institute’s spring 2016 Commencement Celebration and Recognition Ceremony in May at Union South.


$5 for Red Envelope fun

The 2016-17 academic year will mark the fifth anniversary of the undergraduate major in environmental studies and the fifth anniversary of the institute’s Red Envelope Campaign.

Participation is the singular goal of this campaign. All Nelson Institute students are encouraged to contribute $1 each semester to support fun, community-building events such as ice cream socials, movie nights, Commencement celebrations, chili cook-offs, EcoTalks (formerly known as Environment on Tap), Spooky Science Hall nights, and more.

Since the campaign’s inception, 469 donors (students, staff, faculty and friends) have contributed a total of $3,730. We are grateful for their investment in the Nelson student experience and their commitment to maintaining the unique sense of community-building that sets the institute apart.

In honor of the campaign’s fifth anniversary, we invite you to make a $5 (or more) contribution to the Nelson Institute Student Experience Fund to ensure that the fun and camaraderie continues for future generations of Nelson students.

$5 for Red Envelope fun
Nelson Institute Graduate Student Representatives celebrate the kickoff of the spring 2016 Red Envelope Campaign at the Earth Day Open House, held in the Nelson Institute Director’s Office on April 22. The desk featured in this photo belonged to Gaylord Nelson and was donated to the Nelson Institute in 2011 by his widow, Mrs. Carrie Lee Nelson (read the history of the desk and this donation).


Donors to the fall 2015 and spring 2016 Red Envelope campaigns


Anonymous (21) Jordan Hersh
Vera Pfeiffer
David Abel Mackenzie Hess Alexandra Pineda Guerreo
Jennifer Abplanalp Emily Hessee Jeannine Richards
Jacob Ahrens-Balwst Andrew Holt George Roohdrohe
Ticiana Amaral Nick Horan Elisabeth Schlaudt
Rob Beattie Matt Houde Genevieve Schutow
Jake Berger Harvey Jacobs Adam Schwartz
Clay Bess Tommy Jasmin Paul Senner
Kai Brito June Jeon Hannah Sigg
Gloria Castillo Najoua Jouini Steph
Brittany Cobb Alex Karambelas Ann Swenson
Aimee Crittendon Tyler Lark Kevin Theimer
Demetril Hannah Larson Ryan Thompson
Rachel Dietzman Michael Larson Vaishnavi Tripuraneni
Kristin Dwan Katie Laushman Emmanuel Urey
Laurel Fletcher Lindsey Jason Vargo
Sarah Fuller Tristin Marotz Carly Vinkavich
Nikolas Galleguillos-Katz Diane Mayerfeld Ryan Walker
Brenna George Jane Miller Natalya Walker
Melissa Gilmore Jim Miller Mike Wheeler
Sebastian Gomez Parra Melissa Motew J. Wolf
Grad Reps Book Drive Breana Nehls Hangjian Zhao
Martina Gross Andy Ortman
Lingou Zhu
Evelyn Hammond Anne Pearce  
Lily Hemsen Diana Peterson  

Continuing a tradition of commitment to the land

2016 marks the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service and the fifth anniversary of the Nelson Institute’s Jordahl Public Lands Lecture.

As we celebrate public land conservation – a visionary concept realized with the found- ing of Yellowstone National Park and continued by conservation pioneers like Wisconsin’s Harold “Bud” Jordahl – we are proud to host Jonathan Jarvis, director of the National Park Service, for this year’s Jordahl Lecture on October 10.

Jordahl Public Lands Lecture

Jarvis will speak about the historical, cultural and environmental legacies of America’s national parks. Overseeing an agency with more than 22,000 employees, a $3 billion budget and more than 400 parks that attract over 280 million visitors each year, he has emphasized the National Park Service’s role as an international advocate for protected areas and is recognized as a world leader in cultural and natural resource management.

The Jordahl Lecture, founded in 2012, honors Bud Jordahl’s extraordinary efforts in Wisconsin and beyond, as the architect of much of the conservation policy framework that we take for granted today. And it continues his work into the future by sharing the latest thinking in public lands acquisition, stewardship and science. Jordahl, a late UW-Madison professor of urban and regional planning and
environmental studies, helped establish the Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Fund, the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore, the Northern Great Lakes Visitor Center, and much more.

This free, public lecture series is made possible through the generosity of several individuals, campus partners and nonprofit organizations with which Jordahl was involved. We invite you to honor Bud and Wisconsin’s proud tradition of land conservation by making a gift to the Jordahl Lecture Fund. Gifts in any amount are needed and appreciated.

Special opportunity: Any donors who make a gift of $100 or more to the Jordahl Lecture Fund before December 31, 2016, will become members of the Centennial Circle, honoring the 100th anniversary of Gaylord Nelson’s birth.


How do you Rendezvous?

Rendezvous on the Terrace, the institute’s annual alumni and friends gathering, included two special events this year on September 9.

Memorial Union terrace chair

Five alumni participated in an afternoon mentoring panel, Expect the Unexpected: The Adventures of Nelson Institute Alumni, sharing personal stories of their post-Nelson journeys with students from our Community Environmental Scholars, Graduate Research Scholars, and Advanced Opportunity Fellowship Programs. This event – hosted by George Reistad and Matt Dannenberg, both Nelson alumni and members of the Board of Visitors – illustrated how an interdisciplinary Nelson Institute education prepares students for myriad career tracks.

The evening Rendezvous gathering also featured an Investiture Ceremony, formally recognizing and appointing two new named Professors and one new named Chair, all made possible due to the generosity of John and Tashia Morgridge in concert with John P. Holton, James and Renee Knight/The Bradshaw Knight Foundation, and John and Linda Nelson. Photos and details will follow in the next issue.


New face of Alumni Relations

Emily Reynolds

Emily Reynolds joined the Nelson team in March as events and alumni relations manager, coordinating the institute’s large public events and working with advancement, research center and program leaders to organize custom, small-group alumni events.

Emily is eager to connect with Nelson alumni around the country and the globe; reach out to share stories about your post-Nelson adventures or to let her know if you are interested in mentoring current Nelson students or connecting with other alumni in your area.