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Investing in Nelson

Spring/Summer 2014

Wodder joins board of visitors; Nelson transitions to emeritus member

Nelson Institute Board of Visitors member Rebecca Wodder
Rebecca Wodder

Nelson Institute alumna and conservation leader Rebecca Wodder has joined the institute’s Board of Visitors, the 10-member board that advises and assists the director in accomplishing the institute’s mission and vision. 

In 2010, Wodder was recognized as one of the Top 25 Outstanding Conservationists by Outdoor Life Magazine. She most recently served as senior advisor to the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Interior, leading a major river initiative for President Obama’s signature conservation program, America’s Great Outdoors, and advising Interior Secretary Ken Salazar on matters related to river restoration, recreation and accessibility, and large-scale watershed protection. 

For 16 years prior, Wodder was president and chief executive officer of American Rivers, the nation’s oldest and most respected river conservation organization. During her tenure, Wodder led efforts to help dozens of communities restore the health of their rivers through innovative conservation measures. She also led collaborations with federal, state, tribal and local governments, business and industry, and grassroots groups.

John Nelson
John Nelson

She has also served in several capacities at The Wilderness Society and was a legislative assistant to U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson on environmental and energy issues from 1978-1980.

“I am honored to join the Nelson Institute Board of Visitors,” says Wodder, who attended the institute as a graduate student, earning a master’s degree in Water Resources Management in 1978. “Senator Nelson has been a lifelong inspiration to me, beginning with the first Earth Day in 1970, through to this upcoming 44th Earth Day as I begin my service to the institute. I hope to make a meaningful contribution in my time on the board.”

In April, John Nelson, past chair of the Board of Visitors and managing director of Global Infrastructure Asset Management LLC, was awarded the title of Emeritus Board Member in honor of his years of dedicated service to and on behalf of the Nelson Institute. He is the second person to hold this honorary title, joining inaugural recipient Jay Carlson.


Gift to support political ecology student research

A new Nelson Institute fellowship to support graduate students whose research focuses on political ecology was established in March with a $250,000 gift from an anonymous graduate of the institute. The fellowship will fund students working at the intersection of policy, politics and the environment in the United States and Canada.

Political ecology, which connects politics and economics to problems of environmental control and ecological change, is a major area of study for Nelson Institute Director Paul Robbins. As a researcher and educator, he specializes in the politics of natural resource management and is author of the foundational textbook on the burgeoning field, Political Ecology: A Critical Introduction.

Additional matching gifts to this fellowship fund and others will allow for more frequent and long-term awards for graduate students. To discuss opportunities to support Nelson Institute student funding, or for more information about the political ecology fellowship, please contact Robbins at or (608) 265-5296.

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