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Investing in Nelson

Gifts provide crucial source of student, program support

Spring/Summer 2012

Major gift to fund CHE students and programs

The Nelson Institute Center for Culture, History and Environment (CHE) will receive a $1 million donation announced in April by James Knight, president of the Bradshaw Knight Foundation and a member of the Nelson Institute Board of Visitors.

Jay Knight

The gift, to be completed through five annual installments, will fund graduate student fellowships and provide support for CHE programs, such as the Tales from Planet Earth film festival and the center's annual place-based workshop, both signature community-building events.

Whether exploring such themes as landscapes of health and illness or energy in the upper Midwest, the place-based workshops draw together faculty, graduate students and alumni from across the disciplines to interpret and understand the interplay of history, culture and place in shaping human environment interactions through time.

"CHE is an extremely important border crosser, and universities desperately need these borders crossed for the creation of deep and accurate knowledge about ourselves and the world around us," says Knight. "An important way to tell our tale on this planet is to first acknowledge that the story is fundamentally about our relationship with the natural world over a long period of time."

Knight, who describes himself as an ardent fan of both history and film, sees the Tales from Planet Earth festivals as an accessible way to convey information and stir up conversation around critical issues.

"Film is an incredibly powerful communicative tool," he says. Nelson Institute interim director Gregg Mitman, an environmental historian who helped found CHE and established the film festival, says Knight's gift will provide the research center with financial stability at a time of extraordinary budgetary challenges.

"The Bradshaw-Knight Foundation has been critical to the success of Tales from Planet Earth," notes Mitman, "and Jay and Renee knight have been remarkable friends and supporters of CHE. We are all deeply touched by this transformational gift, which will help us support and train generations of storytellers to come in the service of humanity and the environment."

Knight, whose educational background is in archaeology and environmental studies, is a strong believer in the power of history to help us understand the present, no matter the issue.

"We're always in the story and there are always preceding chapters," he says. "There's never just a 'now'; there's always a 'then' attached to it. It's inescapable."

Scholarship fund builds on DeWitt's passion for teaching

Cal DeWitt has retired after more than 40 years of teaching environmental studies at UW-Madison and the Nelson Institute, but his legacy lives on - now more than ever with the Cal DeWitt Scholarship Fund.

Cal DeWitt and Neil Peters-Michaud
Cal DeWitt and Neil Peters-Michaud, a former
student of DeWitt's who established the scholarship.

Revered across campus as an exceptional, highly engaged professor, his popular course Environmental Studies 126, Principles of Environmental Science, and his weekly "Coffee with Cal" discussion sessions have inspired thousands of students.

For at least one of those students, Neil Peters-Michaud, he had an especially lasting impact. DeWitt's enthusiasm, mentoring and support of a class project were the catalyst behind Peters-Michaud founding his own environmentally focused company in 1999, Cascade Asset Management.

To honor DeWitt and ensure that future generations can benefit from his devotion to environmental education and a rewarding college experience, Peters-Michaud recently provided a generous gift to the Nelson Institute to establish the Cal DeWitt Scholarship Fund. The annual scholarship will support undergraduate or graduate students pursuing a degree administered by the Nelson Institute.

The goal is to grow the fund to $10,000 before the end of 2012. If this goal is reached, a private donor will provide an additional $10,000 matching gift.

If you would like to support the Cal DeWitt Scholarship Fund, please donate online or by mail. Online, please indicate in the gift form that your donation should be directed to the Cal DeWitt Scholarship Fund. We also welcome checks made to the Nelson Institute, with a note directing the gift to the DeWitt scholarship. Checks can be mailed to: Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies, Attn: Jeanan Yasiri Moe, 550 N. Park St., 122B Science Hall, Madison, WI 53706.

Your gift makes
a difference

Gifts are a crucial source
of financial support for
the Nelson Institute.

Your investment in the
institute enables us to
support talented students
through unique scholarships,
fellowships, internships and
travel opportunities; attract
and retain outstanding faculty
members; launch new research
initiatives; organize public
events and programs that
benefit the people of the
state and beyond; keep alumni
and friends like you informed
of our latest achievements; and
much more.

We invite you to help us
meet the challenges of
achieving a more sustainable
world by supporting our
interdisciplinary education,
research and public service.

Contributions to the Nelson
Institute are tax deductible.
To make a donation or learn
more about our development
priorities, please contact
Jeanan Yasiri Moe at or
608-265-5108, or visit

We thank you for your
generous support.

Introducing Jeanan Yasiri Moe

Jeanan Yasiri Moe joins the Nelson Institute as development coordinator, where she will assist donors in planning gifts and philanthropic investments with the institute.

Jeanan Yasiri Moe
Yasiri Moe

A UW-Madison alumna in consumer science (M.S. '85), Yasiri Moe has focused much of her career on health care access and community development program planning, developing initiatives to reach underserved and at-risk patient populations.

She has been a faculty associate at UW-Madison for the past 25 years and teaches Entrepreneurship in Society, a course that engages hundreds of students each year with nationally recognized entrepreneurs. She also helped establish the UW-Madison Center for Nonprofits, creating outreach programming that has served more than 4,000 nonprofit professionals since 2007.

"I am delighted to help our alumni, community and friends see the variety of opportunities available to invest in and advance the institute," says yasiri Moe. "Connecting people with the internationally renowned work and service of our faculty, staff and students is a privilege."

To learn more about development and investment opportunities with the Nelson Institute, please contact Yasiri Moe at or 608-265-5108.

Historic desk finds a home in Science Hall

The desk of the late U.S. Sen. Gaylord Nelson is now displayed in the Nelson Institute director's office in Science Hall. Nelson used the desk throughout his 18 years in the Senate and his time with the Wilderness Society following his government career. Historic legislation was formulated on this desk, including bills that established Earth Day, created the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore and banned the pesticide DDT.

Nelson's family and former associates gathered at the Nelson Institute on April 22, the 42nd anniversary of Earth Day. View a detailed account of the desk's acquisition and Science Hall celebration.

Three join Board of Visitors

The Nelson Institute welcomes three new members to its Board of Visitors: John Francis, Bruce Kahn and Carl Korfmacher. They join John Nelson (chair), Sonnet Edmonds (vice chair), Darrell Bazzell, Lynn Broaddus, Jay Knight, Tia Nelson, Beth Treacy, Sal Troia and Gail Wurtzler. View full bios.

John Francis

John Francis (Cape May, New Jersey), known as the Planetwalker, maintained a non-motorized lifestyle for 22 years and a vow of silence for 17. Francis walked across the United States, earning a B.A at Southern Oregon State College, an M.S. at the University of Montana and a Ph.D. in the Nelson Institute Land Resources program. Francis recently served as a visiting associate professor in the Nelson Institute. He is a fellow with the National Geographic Society and author of Planetwalker and The Ragged Edge of Silence.

Carl Korfmacher

Carl Korfmacher (Brodhead, Wisconsin) is president of Applied Ecological Services (AES), one of the world's leading ecological consulting fi rms. Korfmacher joined AES in 1995. As a landscape architect, his interest lies in the development of sustainability principles that integrate the science of ecology with economic and social concerns.

Bruce Kahn

Bruce Kahn (New York City), serves as director and senior investment analyst at Deutsche Asset Management, a leading climate change investor. Kahn joined the company in 2008 with 20 years of experience in environmental research, most recently as it relates to investments. He received a Ph.D. in Land Resources from the Nelson Institute.

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