2013 Awards Ceremony and Dinner

Master of ceremonies Linda Bochert presents Leopold awards to Donna and Don Justin (left), John Shillinglaw (center) and Matt Millen (right).

On October 17, 80 people came to the Arboretum Visitor Center to honor this year's Leopold Restoration Award recipients. Linda Bochert, FOA Board President emeritus, served as the evening's master of ceremonies.

During the program, she acknowledged the participation of the program's financial supporters, the contributions of the Leopold Judges' Team, and the assistance of the many volunteers who work hard to create this important event.

The first award presented was the Virginia M. Kline Award for Excellence in Community-Based Restoration given to Don and Donna Justin, proprietors of Justin Trails Resort, by Patrick Reinsma, regional tourism specialist with the Wisconsin Department of Tourism.

The Justins have held on to their century-old farm in the driftless region by partnering with a variety of environmental organizations, thinking outside the box and involving the community and their guests in restoration activities.

They have transformed their property into a bed and breakfast that includes a disc golf course, organic gardens, and regular opportunities for guests to participate in naturalist-led hikes and ecological restoration work weekends.

Working with professionals and volunteers, they have restored a 5-acre savanna, 20 acres of woodland, and a prairie remnant. They are also planting prairie in previously disturbed areas and looking for new ways to engage their guests in environmental stewardship.

The Henry Greene Award for Innovative Approaches in Restoration was presented to John Shillinglaw in recognition of his significant contributions to the conservation of the federally endangered Karner blue butterfly.

John has conducted Karner blue butterfly population surveys and studied their movements between suitable and unsuitable habitat in central Wisconsin. His research demonstrated that populations can be increased by restoring small areas of habitat within a greater area without the need to establish connecting corridors.

Biologists have been able to use this information to establish larger Karner populations with less cost and effort. To make this information more widely available, John published a study of his work on habitat establishment for grassland birds in "Passenger Pigeon." The study showed increases in grassland bird species, in the number of species fledging young, and in the total number of breeding birds over time.

John has protected his property with a permanent conservation easement with the North Central Conservancy Trust and participates in the US Fish and Wildlife Service Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program. Darcy Kind, conservation biologist with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, presented the award to John.

The third award was given to Matt Millen. Matt received the John Nolen Award for Excellence in Ecological Restoration Practices for his work restoring 680 acres along the Wisconsin River to vibrant prairie, savanna, woodland and bluffland ecosystems.

He conducts prescribed burns regularly on more than 100 acres of restored prairie, providing habitat for nesting grassland birds, and is also restoring a swamp white oak savanna community.

Matt has opened his property to professionals and visitors to learn more about the restoration process and to measure results of the various management practices used on these areas. He has nurtured collaborations with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Natural Resource Conservation Service (NCRS), the Wisconsin DNR, The Prairie Enthusiasts, the International Crane Foundation and the Aldo Leopold Foundation.

Matt's restoration project is one of the largest restoration efforts in southern Wisconsin and one of the best examples of private land restoration in our region. Jeb Barzen from the International Crane Foundation presented the award to Matt.

A silent auction was also part of this festive evening, with the highest bidders going home with items donated by local businesses, artists and individuals. We look forward to celebrating next year's Leopold Restoration Award winners on October 9, 2014. We hope you will join us for this important event!

Special thanks

The Leopold Restoration Awards program is a large and complex endeavor that could not take place without the support and hard work of talented volunteers. Many thanks to the following individuals and organizations for their support:


  • Peter Anderson
  • Bill Arthur
  • Ellie Beck
  • Linda Bochert
  • Pat Brown
  • Matt Carlson
  • Susan Carpenter
  • Kathy Desmet
  • Tim Eisele
  • Susan Kilmer
  • Darcy Kind
  • Judy Kingsbury
  • Terri Lefebvre
  • Nancy Mead
  • Marilee Wertlake


  • Darcy Kind, chair
  • Dr. Tom Blewett
  • Dr. Evelyn Howell
  • Ted Koehler
  • Steve Swenson

2013 Leopold Award Sponsors


Event Sponsor:
Affiliated Construction Services, Inc.


Corporate Sponsor:
American Family Insurance

Table Host:
Michael Best and Friedrich, LLP


Learn more about the 2013 winners.