Friends of the Arboretum (FOA) is a 501 (c) (3) non-profit organization that supports the work of the UW - Madison Arboretum. For 30 years, Friends of the Arboretum has provided volunteer and financial support and has assisted the Arboretum's efforts in community outreach and education, training of young scientists, ecological research and coordination of volunteers.
Proceeds from the membership program and fundraising events support FOA activities and Arboretum teaching, outreach and research activities. A special focus for the organization for the past several years has been to support Arboretum efforts to provide ecological restoration education and related experiences to children, families, teachers and citizens through naturalist-guided tours, classes, restoration projects, service learning programs, and volunteer involvement.
The Friends hope to enhance the Arboretum's capability to accomplish its research, education, and outreach by:
- Providing volunteer and financial support to the Arboretum
- Assisting with the Arboretum's varied educational and outreach activities
- Helping the Arboretum sustain its sense of history and tradition
- Offering benefits to its members, and
- Inspiring people to become involved with the Arboretum.
The Friends help foster positive relationships between people and the land through support of the UW-Madison Arboretum.
Matt Carlson, President
Matt, beginning his second term on the Board this year, is a partner at the law firm of Michael Best & Friedrich LLP where he practices in the areas of real estate and land use law, including assisting individuals and non-profit entities with planning activities related to conservation easements and similar matters. Matt first fell in love with the Arboretum during his undergraduate days at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in the early 1990's. After returning in the late 90's to the Madison area from law school in Boston, Matt renewed his active use of the Arboretum, where he enjoyed running, biking, hiking and skiing the many wonderful trails. Now, with two young children, the nature of Matt's "active" use of the Arboretum has changed somewhat, but he and his family remain frequent visitors who enjoy observing and identifying the myriad birds and native plant species that the Arboretum hosts in its many unique landscapes. Matt is also the incoming Chair of the Downtown Madison, Inc. Board of Directors and a founding member and the current president of the Friends of Capital Springs Recreation Area, Inc. In addition, he and his wife Clare recently formed the Friends of Glacial Heritage Area to benefit and support the further development of park lands and recreational trails in Jefferson County. Matt and Clare have volunteered with the Spring Sprint for the Arb, hosting the 1 mile nature walk in Curtis Prairie. Matt has also been an active member of the Arboretum Committee and Board of Visitors as FOA representative.
Benjamin Dreyer, Vice President
Ben is starting his second year on the board and it is with a focus on conservation and continued education that he hopes to contribute to the FOA mission. Ben is a personal trainer and owner of melt, a downtown fitness studio. He was first introduced to the "Arb" while coaching track and field at Edgewood College. Now Ben enjoys its diverse ecology as an avid runner and cyclist. Ben attended St. Norbert College in De Pere, WI as a philosophy major and was inspired to become a health practitioner while competing as a professional track athlete. He resided at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista, CA, received sponsorship from Holyfield International Track Club, Reebok, and Disney, and represented the U.S. in international competition. Ben's experience as a track athlete led to a wonderful career helping others realize their ability to lead active, healthy lives. The Arboretum is a perfect stomping ground for exploring these values because of its innovative educational opportunities and historic roots. Ben has been a member of the FOA Executive Committee and was instrumental in getting FOA involved with 1% for the Planet.
Tim, beginning his second term on the board, has been a member of the Friends of the Arboretum for many years. As a full-time freelance outdoor writer and photographer, he writes articles for many publications, including The Capital Times, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Wisconsin State Journal, and Wisconsin Outdoor News, and is the former editor of Woodland Management magazine for the Wisconsin Woodland Owners Association. Tim is a founding member and past-president of the Wisconsin Outdoor Communicator's Association and an active member of the Outdoor Writers Association of America; he has served on the Board of Directors of the Wisconsin Wetlands Association, on the Board of Governors of the Wisconsin Conservation Hall of Fame, and currently serves on the Board of Advisors of Trees For Tomorrow in Eagle River. Tim was selected as the Wisconsin Wildlife Federation's Conservation Communicator of the Year (2009), received the Conservation Congress Outdoor Writer's Award (2001), the Greater Madison Convention and Visitor’s Bureau Hometown Hero Award (2004), the Wisconsin Woodland Owner Association's Distinguished Service Award (2001), the Madison Audubon Society’s James Zimmerman Award for Excellence in Environmental Education and Communication (2011), and the Wisconsin Chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation’s Outdoor Writer Award (1997 and 2004). Tim, and his wife Linda, own and manage 100 acres in Crawford County to benefit wildlife, and were selected as the Wisconsin Chapter of the NWTF Wild Turkey Woodland Owners of the Year in 2005 for their work. They have restored 8 acres of prairie, and conducted clearcuts to regenerate oak and aspen. Tim has used his public relations and writing expertise on behalf of the Friends, most notably while promoting the Spring Sprint for the Arb. He has served as chair of the Nominating Committee and provided a lecture for a recent sold-out luncheon-lecture program.
Mary Ellen Gabriel
Mary Ellen Gabriel, starting her second year on the board, is a freelance writer who writes about prairies, streams, Native culture, wildlife, and other topics related to history, culture, and the environment. She has penned stories for Wisconsin Trails, Madison Magazine, ReadyMade Magazine, Hallmark Magazine, and Midwest Living Magazine, as well as The Capital Times and Isthmus, and she writes Notes from the Wild, a blog about adventures in nature with family and friends. Mary Ellen and her husband, Rick Gabriel, met doing prairie restoration work with Chicago’s North Branch Prairie Project, and served as Nature Conservancy co-stewards for Berkely Prairie in Highland Park, IL. In Chicago, Mary Ellen was Director of Marketing for The Newberry Library, a humanities research institution. She and Rick moved from Chicago to Madison in 1998, and their two boys were born in 1999 and 2001. Mary Ellen left her position as Development Director with the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra to stay home with the kids, while launching her freelance writing career. She has spent countless hours introducing her boys to the wonders found in wilder areas of the UW-Madison Arboretum. They’ve spotted rare warblers by the springs below the oak savanna off Monroe Street, listened to spring peepers from the boardwalk at Teal Pond, squished along the Sedge Meadow trail amid butterflies and leopard frogs, and taken spooky owl walks after dark in Longenecker Gardens (where they heard, not owls, but coyotes howling). Mary Ellen serves on the newly-formed School Garden Coalition, helps coordinate the Randall Outdoor Classroom Team, and is passionate about encouraging families to reconnect with the natural world. Currently, she is outreach and marketing manager for the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Center for the Humanities.
Bill, beginning his fifth year on the board this year, was first introduced to the UW-Madison Arboretum in 1968 during a visit with a Botany class to study spring flowers and native plants. Since Bill grew up on a farm in Southern Wisconsin he has always appreciated the treasures that nature and the outdoors have provided for us to enjoy. After receiving his M.S. degree in Food Chemistry and Business from UW-Madison, he moved to Australia, before eventually settling in California for 32 years. He established his own packaging machinery business and after 20 years sold it, then retired to follow his house remodeling interest. However, the “Call of the Mid-West” soon lured Bill and his wife Leslie to move back to Madison with a purchase of their home in the Arboretum. Currently, Bill serves as a fraternity alumni advisor, a member of the UW Chancellors Commission on Fraternities and Sororities, the National Alpha Gamma Rho Educational Foundation Board and the Arboretum Neighborhood Association Board. The Arboretum provides him many opportunities to enjoy running, bicycling and nature walks and he is looking forward to giving back to the Arboretum for the opportunity of living in such a unique and wonderful environment. Bill has been an active member of the Native Plant Sale Committee, volunteers for the Spring Sprint for the Arb, and was recently co-chair of the Nominating Committee.
Nan Zimdars Hoesly
Nan, beginning her second term on the Board this year, grew up in Nakoma with the Arboretum as her back yard. Her deceased father was a past president of the Friends of the Arboretum. After graduating from the University of Wisconsin with a BBA and a major in finance, she moved to New York City to work for International Paper Co. After four years, she decided to move back to the Midwest and joined her father and brother in the life insurance business. Nan is a Certified Financial Planner (CFP®). Her business, Nan M. Zimdars, Inc., specializes in Retirement Planning. She loves to walk the Arboretum enjoying the seasons and watching them change. Nan is active with various FOA programs, including the recent membership campaign to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the organization.
Sandy Jaeckel, new to the board this year, is a Certified Public Accountant who retired in 2003 from the UW after spending 12 years as an Internal Auditor and four years working on special projects, related primarily to the new accounting system being implemented throughout the UW System. Sandy’s first introduction to the Arboretum was driving and biking through and then later as a University auditor, auditing some of the Arboretum’s activities. She became involved as a volunteer in 2010 after reading an announcement in the RSVP newsletter about openings for receptionists. In addition to volunteering at the Reception Desk she also posts Arboretum events on the community calendars of local television stations. Sandy grew up in Illinois and has a B.S. degree in Accountancy from the University of Illinois. Upon graduation she came to Madison to work for the Wisconsin Department of Revenue and soon after passed the CPA exam. After four years at DOR and a short stint with a local CPA firm she became a stay at home mom for the next 11 years. Since retirement Sandy has been an active volunteer first at Meriter Hospital where she served on the Friends of Meriter Board and was President for two years. Currently she volunteers at the Overture Center (Information Desk, Usher, Tour Guide), MSCR (first mate in the pontoon program), Middleton Senior Center (intake person for AARP tax preparers), and recently accepted the position of volunteer accountant for Friends of Schumacher Farm. Sandy enjoys her time at the Arboretum Reception Desk and looks at each day there as an opportunity to learn about and experience the many wonders of the Arboretum.
Darcy, beginning her fifth year on the board this year, is a conservation biologist with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources’ Bureau of Endangered Resources, where her work focuses on working with private landowners to restore and manage prairies and savannas. She has been working with the DNR since 1997, and has previous work experience with Aldo Leopold Nature Center and Camp Manito-wish YMCA. She is a graduate of Lawrence University in Appleton. Outside of work, she enjoys the seasons outdoors skiing, running, hiking, paddling and gardening. Darcy also tries to enjoy all that Wisconsin has to offer culturally. Darcy is a Leopold Restoration Awards Judge and active volunteer with the Spring Sprint for the Arb and the Native Plant Sale and serves as program host for many luncheon-lecture speakers each year.
John is a native of Wisconsin, where he went to college, receiving undergraduate degrees in math and electrical engineering and a master's degree in environmental engineering. He moved to Madison in 1975 for a job as a statewide solid waste specialist at UW-Extension. Since then, he has also been the recycling coordinator at the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and the recycling manager for Dane County, where he worked with municipalities, businesses, and the public implementing the County's mandatory recycling program. At the same time, he was appointed by successive Governors to the state's recycling advisory council, on which he served for 20 years. John retired in 2008 and has focused on volunteer activities with his local grade school, the Norwegian-American Genealogical Center and Naeseth Library, the John Muir Chapter of the Sierra Club, and at the Arboretum, including a group that works in the Longenecker Gardens and the Saturday morning restoration work parties. He also attends most of the Sunday naturalist walks and the Wednesday evening walks in the spring.
William H. Tishler
Bill, beginning his second term on the Board this year, is Professor Emeritus of Landscape Architecture at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. A native of Baileys Harbor, Bill graduated from UW-Madison and Harvard University. He has lectured widely and has held Fellowships with the American Society of Landscape Architects, Dumbarton Oaks, and the Attingham Program in England. Bill has been a consultant to the National Park Service and he prepared the master plan for Old World Wisconsin. He has written more than 170 publications including the award-winning books American Landscape Architecture: Designers and Places, and Midwestern Landscape Architecture. He also co-authored “Conservation Pioneers: Jens Jensen and the Friends of Our Native Landscape” for the Wisconsin Magazine of History, which won the Historical Society’s Hesseltine Award for best article of the year. Bill recently completed the book Wisconsin’s Emerald Treasure: A History of Peninsula State Park. His documentary film Jens Jensen: A Natural History, has also won numerous awards. Bill was founder of the Alliance for Historic Landscape Preservation, and is a member of The Clearing’s Board of Directors and where he founded The Clearing Landscape Institute. He was elected to the UW Teaching Academy—a group of 100 of the university’s best teachers and, in 1998, he received the Council of Educators in Landscape Architecture’s Award for Teaching Excellence. As an undergrad, he has many fond memories of Arboretum field trips with one of his mentors. Bill Longenecker. Bill is active with various FOA programs, including the recent membership campaign to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the organization.
Sal, beginning his fifth year on the board, has lived near the Arboretum most of his life and been a member of FOA for many years. He has spent many hours hiking on the trails and riding through the Arboretum on his bicycle as an avid cyclist and bicycle racer. Sal was in the banking business for 28 years and was involved in two bank mergers as a senior executive of the acquired bank. At both Valley Bancorporation and Marshall & Ilsley Corporation he organized and was president of a subsidiary company which provided customer support services for all bank branches. He has served on many professional and business boards during his banking career and has served as president for a number of them. Sal has always enjoyed being outdoors in nature and since retiring his volunteer interests have turned to the environment and the lakes. He is currently on the Yahara Lakes Association board (having served as its president in the past) and the Wisconsin Association of Lakes (WAL) board (as treasurer and member of the executive committee). He also serves on the board for Porchlight, Inc., a local organization striving for solutions to homelessness by providing emergency shelter, food, employment services, counseling and affordable transitional and permanent housing. Sal is pleased to be part of the FOA board and says, “Having an extensive area of natural communities occupying 1,200 acres right in the middle of Madison for all to enjoy is incredible. No other city in the world I’ve visited has anything like the Arboretum”. Sal is active with various FOA programs, including the recent membership campaign to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the organization.
Tami Van Galder Patel
Tami, currently serving her second term on the Board, spearheaded the development of the Spring Sprint for the Arb. She discovered the Arboretum as a runner while she was in law school. Tami grew up in Southern Wisconsin where her large extended family has lived for generations. She left Wisconsin to attend Bradley University where she played basketball and graduated with a B.A. in Economics. After Tami graduated from Bradley, she moved to Madison and worked as an economic consultant until she began graduate school. After receiving her J.D. from UW-Madison and an M.P.A. from the La Follette Institute of Public Affairs, Tami moved to Chicago and began practicing law at Sidley & Austin LLP. Tami’s practice focused on the tax-aspects of mergers and acquisitions, partnership formations, and financings. In addition, she aided nonprofit entities in obtaining and maintaining tax-exempt status. After four years in Chicago, Tami returned to Madison and practiced law at Reinhart Boerner & Van Deuren SC until the birth of her first daughter. Tami is now enjoying staying at home with her two young girls and is looking forward to sharing all the Arboretum has to offer with her family.
Marilee is an artist focusing on beadwork and painted imagery for spiritual and meditative practices. She brings a wealth of experience in development, fundraising, grant writing, events and volunteer coordination for nonprofits (Wingra School, Lussier Community Education Center, First Unitarian Society/FUS). She has served on the boards of Kanopy Dance and Camp Randall Rowing Club and is currently volunteering with the Adult Religious Education Committee at FUS and has assisted with the capital campaign for Domestic Abuse Intervention Services of Greater Dane County. Marilee served as the Managing Editor for over a decade for the scholarly journal Land Economics, a UW Press publication, and has designed marketing materials and websites for local nonprofits. Marilee’s love of the Arboretum began as a student at the University. She and her husband, Michael Sweetnam, a clinical psychologist, spent many happy hours hiking and skiing the trails, bird watching and walking, biking and running the drive, consequently becoming lifelong fans of the Arboretum. In 1987, they had the good fortune to begin living in the Arboretum, where they raised their three children, now grown, close to nature, being serenaded by owls at night and sandhill cranes in the morning. Marilee would like to help the Friends find innovative ways to build financial support for the Arboretum, including increasing the participation of the young adults who regularly make use of its resources to developing mutually beneficial relationships with other nonprofits.
Richard A. Zillman
Dick, starting his second year on the board this year, is founder/creative director of Zillman Advertising, a full-service Madison firm since 1977 with emphasis on online education, food service, health care, insurance and financial industries, and minors in public service, nonprofits and the arts. He is a founding member of the Madison Parks Foundation and vice president of Kanopy Dance. He has served as marketing chair and chairman of Downtown Madison Inc, and on the board of the Madison Art Center, Children's Theater of Madison and Dane County Natural Heritage Foundation. Dick earned his BBA and MBA in marketing from UW Madison. A lifelong townie and University brat, he has biked, walked and necked in the Arboretum and remembers a prairie burn as a wee child. His wife Mary is a 5th grade teacher at Marquette Elementary School. Their son, Chandler, is a First Officer with American Airlines, and daughter, Hallie, is a graduating MATC student in advertising design. Dick is active with various FOA programs, including the recent membership campaign to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the organization.