Fifty years ago, Dorothy and Gordon Kummer of Milwaukee purchased some rural acreage southwest of Rhinelander, Wisconsin, and began a remarkable legacy of stewardship and conservation education that continues today.
They called this land ”Treehaven,” and under their care and supervision the Kummers planted nearly 140,000 trees on the property, ultimately creating one of the nation’s finest examples of sustainable forest management by a private landowner. Following Gordon Kummer’s death, Dorothy remarried a Milwaukee school science teacher named Jacque Vallier, also an avid conservationist. The Valliers eventually donated the land to the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, and helped mold Treehaven into the leading natural resources education and conference facility it is today. The complex now provides education and training to more current and future natural resource managers than any other center in the United States.
Treehaven’s facilities rest on an ancient glacial ridge that overlooks 1,400 acres of forest and wetland habitat for many species of wildlife, including osprey, deer, black bear, wolf, coyote, and fisher. Facilities include a large classroom/conference center, two residential dormitory buildings that provide overnight accommodations for up to 125 people, and full food-service capability. Of course, the featured “facility” is Mother Nature’s own handiwork—a vast outdoor classroom space with rustic trails.
Eight permanent employees and approximately 20 affiliated staff — mostly teachers and educators — help Treehaven serve more than 25,000 people each year with courses, seminars, workshops, Elderhostel’s, school and youth programs, and business gatherings. A public, nonprofit facility operated by the UWSP College of Natural Resources — the nation’s largest undergraduate natural resources program — Treehaven relies on usage fees and donations for much of its operating budget, with limited support from state tax dollars.
Treehaven’s mission is guided by a Board of Advisors, with support from the Friends of Treehaven, a group of volunteers who raise funds to support programs, land management and buildings of the center.
The facility is frequenly seeking part-time educators. Such instructors are hired to work with full-time staff on specific programs throughout the year. Applicants should have experience as a formal or nonformal educator, as a naturalist, or have a particular skill or hobby relating to our natural world that could be taught in a workshop format. Some opportunities also exist for professional honorariums for conducting programs. If you are interested, or have programming ideas, contact John Heusinkveld assistant director, at 715-453-4106.
Treehaven hosts a wide variety of year-round programming in environmental and natural resource education. Programs range in scope from working with school-aged children in environmental lessons to adult weekend workshops covering topics such as “Snowshoe Construction” or “Wolf Ecology.” With our spacious combination of forest and wildlands, Treehaven is a great place to work and meet new people.
A New Capital Campaign
In today’s increasingly urbanized world, connecting people to the natural environment is more important than ever. Expanding Treehaven’s capacity to appropriately serve this growing need is critical. The “See the Future” campaign aims to broaden Treehaven’s reach and impact by providing resources for expanded program facilities and materials. Your support of this campaign will ensure that high-quality environmental education and experiences will touch the lives of more people, from school child to retiree, for years to come.
Program Enhancements Needed
Learning at Treehaven takes place both in and out of the classroom. Bringing advanced technology and teaching tools into the classrooms will enhance learning for students at all levels. A future laboratory will create the opportunity for long-term ecological research.
In the outdoor classroom, trail expansions and trailside improvements will allow students and the public wider accessibility and the ability to immerse themselves in the natural laboratory that surrounds them. State-of-the-art field equipment and materials also are essential for Treehaven to maintain educational research and the sustainable forest practices established by the Valliers.
Lifelong learning can be sparked by a bird class or a field trip in the fourth grade. Building the endowment will ensure that the Treehaven experience will be available for generations to come. Gifts to the endowment are permanently invested to provide a continuing source of income. Scholarships to assist graduate students and honorariums for noted guest lecturers are but two of the opportunities funded through endowment earnings. Endowment gifts are truly those that keep on giving.
How You Can Make A Difference
Gifts to support Treehaven’s See the Future campaign may be made to the UWSP Foundation, a 501(c)3 nonprofit corporation. Naming opportunities are available for all or portions of Treehaven structures and facilities. There are many ways to support the campaign through current or deferred gifts. A gift to Treehaven is a gift to all life on earth. Your gift will perpetuate Treehaven as the natural sense of place where people of all ages experience learning that inspires lifelong environmental and community stewardship.
For more information, please visit: give.uwsp.edu/give-now