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 of the Arboretum enhances the University of Wisconsin–Madison Arboretum's capability to accomplish its research, education, and outreach by providing volunteer and financial support, inspiring people to reconnect with nature.
The Friends of the Arboretum builds positive relationships between people and the land through support of the UW–Madison Arboretum.
Benjamin Dreyer, President
Ben is starting his first year as Board president after serving two years as vice president, 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, c-chaired the 2014 Spring Sprint for the Arb, and was instrumental in getting FOA involved with 1% for the Planet.
Susanne Voeltz, Vice President
Starting her second year on the Board, Susanne is a PR, Community Relations and Special Events consultant who has worked with clients ranging from global consumer corporation Kimberly-Clark to local not-for-profits such as the Madison Early Music Festival with an emphasis on urban re-development, historic preservation and the visual and performing arts. Prior to launching her boutique PR firm, Susanne was executive director of Downtown Madison, Inc. and held marketing positions at the Alexander Company and the Milwaukee Art Museum. A community volunteer, she has served as chairperson of the Civic Center (now Overture) Commission, president of CTM Madison Family Theatre, Kanopy Dance, et.al. She is also a published author having contributed an essay to Center Ring: The Artist, published in conjunction with a national traveling art exhibit. She and her husband , architect James McFadden, have loved exploring the Arboretum for years-in fact, on the eve of the birth of their daughter, UW senior Nathalie McFadden, they jogged the Lost City Forest. Susanne is a UW-Madison alum in Philosophy and other pursuits. Susanne has volunteered for several FOA events.
Sandy Jaeckel, Treasurer
Sandy Jaeckel, beginning her third year as Board treasurer, 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. She has also volunteered for several FOA events.
Tim Eisele, Secretary
Tim, beginning his second year as Board secretary, 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.
Matt, beginning his sixth year on the board and recently completing his two years as Board president 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 is the president of the Arboretum Board of Visitors, representing FOA, and has volunteered for several FOA events and will serve as the FOA representative on the Leopold Restoration Awards judge's team in 2015.
Jeff, starting his first term on the board, is a Supervising Attorney with the University of Wisconsin's Law & Entrepreneurship Clinic, a practicing attorney in Madison, and one of the founders of Madison Craft Beer Week. Jeff's background in is in software and marketing and he works closely with numerous local (and not-so-local) craft breweries on legal and business issues in the brewing industry. Jeff was President of the Dunn's Marsh Neighborhood Association just across Seminole Highway from the Arboretum and has spent many hours hiking and running in the Arboretum. He has served on the Board of the Allied Wellness Center and the Badger Red Cross Marketing Committee. His wife Erin is also an attorney in Madison and serves on the Board of Olbrich Botanical Gardens. Together with their dog Lola they spend a lot of time outdoors hiking and walking the Ice Age Trail.
Leslie A. Ladd
Leslie has lived (quite gratefully!) in the beautiful UW-Madison Arboretum neighborhood for the past 11 years. She joins the board this year after being a very active volunteer for both the Friends of the Arboretum and the Arboretum in various capacities. Born and raised in Detroit, Michigan, she earned a Bachelor's degree in Speech Pathology at the University of Michigan and a Master's in the Education of the Deaf at Smith College. She taught at the Central Institute for the Deaf in St. Louis, MO and at the California School for the Deaf in northern California. After earning an administrative credential, she served as the principal of the Elementary Department and then the Supervisor of Curriculum and Media services. After retiring from such a rewarding career, she worked with her husband Bill Hantke as the business manager in his thriving packaging machinery business located in the San Francisco Bay Area. In 2003 Leslie and Bill, newly retired, moved to Madison. Since then, Leslie has found numerous opportunities to serve and volunteer in her community-with the Literacy Network, Schools of Hope, Junior League of Madison, the Madison Civics Club, and as Secretary of the Arboretum Neighborhood Association. She has volunteered on the Local Products Fair committee, Native Plant Sale committee, and Spring Sprint for the Arb. Leslie is an enthusiastic supporter of the Luncheon-Lecture Series and enjoys as many Friends field trips as she can squeeze into her busy schedule.
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 is an active volunteer with the Spring Sprint for the Arb and Native Plant Sale; he also attends most of the Sunday naturalist walks and the Wednesday evening walks in the spring. This is his third year as a board member.
Leigh, new to the board this year, is president of the Richardson Group for Healthy Places, Healthy People, specializing in education, marketing, and new program development for healthcare, non-profits, corporations, and universities. "The key to revitalizing our well-being and insuring a sustainable future", she believes, "is by reconnecting to nature, to culture, and to others. For the more hi-tech we become, the unhealthier we may be." Richardson holds a Ph. D. in Health Education and Preventive Medicine from the University of Wisconsin. She has taught at three state universities, and coordinated education and outreach activities at Meriter Hospital in Madison for 15 years. Believing historic, cultural, environmental preservation is vital to the fabric of every healthy community, she continued studies at UW-Madison in historic architecture and design. She is currently researching the relationships between nature and health. Richardson has a history of media attention -- presenting seminars and keynotes at more than 100 corporations and appearing on national public TV, local talk shows. She has served on medical panels for state congressman and U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson. Leigh is known for creating and promoting cutting-edge preventive medicine programs for Midwest hospitals. Among her accomplishments is one of the country's first women's health centers, cited in Advertising Age for setting market records in its first 18 months of operation: 800 procedures, 10,000 M.D. referrals and conference attendees. Leigh has served on the board of the Madison Trust for Historic Preservation, is a member of Downtown Rotary, and has developed programs for the Aldo Leopold Nature Center, the Salvation Army, American Cancer Society and Heart Association.
Barry, starting his second year on the board, is a commercial real estate lender at US Bank on the Capitol Square. Originally from Mount Horeb, Barry first experienced the Arboretum at the December 1980 Optimist Club 10k, and continues to run the road and trails on a weekly basis. As a lifelong runner, he truly appreciates this unique resource and will continue to instill this appreciation in future generations of runners through responsible use and support of the Arboretum. Barry has participated in each Spring Sprint for the Arb since the event's inception in 2010, and looks forward to taking a role in the organization of this event. As both an undergraduate and grad student at the UW, Barry has used the Teal Pond and Boardwalk areas as peaceful places to read and study, and is long overdue for a re-reading of A Sand County Almanac. Barry also "borrows" landscaping ideas from the Longenecker Gardens for use at his family's house in Mount Horeb. He co-chaired the 2014 Spring Sprint for the Arb after being a race participant for several years.
Matt is starting his first year on the board this year. Matt is the Chief Operating Officer of The QTI Group's human resources consulting practice. His role allows him to consult with many non-profit organizations and for-profit businesses around Madison, and across Wisconsin, in the matters of compensation and human resource management. Matt grew up on the shores of Lake Michigan, in the small town of Kewaunee, before attending the University of Wisconsin-Madison and earning his BBA. Matt, and his wife Stephanie, moved back to Madison, after a short stint in Milwaukee, and now live in Waunakee where Stephanie is a teacher. The Arboretum played a strong role during their college days, and now is a perfect backdrop to expand their two small children's love of nature. Matt has always enjoyed being outdoors in nature, playing on or just being near the water, and exploring wooded paths. He is selfishly instilling the same interests into the rest of his family.
William H. Tishler
Bill, beginning his fifth year 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 Spring Sprint for the Arb and the recent membership campaign to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the organization.
Marilee, starting her third year as a board member, 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 fifth year on the board, 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.
Nan, beginning her sixth year 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(r)). 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 Spring Sprint for the Arb and the recent membership campaign to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the organization. She is currently the chair of the Nominating Committee.