All Friends Luncheon-Lectures are held from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. in the Arboretum Visitor Center Auditorium. A buffet lunch is served first, followed by the presentation. Individual Luncheon-Lectures cost $25 for members ($30 for non-members).

Series tickets, available to members only, include a ticket to each program, guaranteed seating, and a discounted ticket to the Annual Meeting. When purchasing a series package, tickets will be sent upon receipt of your reservation.

Make your reservations early as seating is limited.

We will confirm individual program reservations by postcard. You will be contacted promptly if the program you register for is full. Refunds, available for individual tickets only, will be given upon request for reservations canceled at least two weeks prior to the event.

Reservations are transferable; please call (608) 263-7760 to transfer tickets to someone else. We also appreciate a call if you will not use any confirmed reservations.

Dietary needs should be noted on the registration form or provided at least two weeks prior to program date.

2014–15 Friends Luncheon-Lectures Series

Thursday, September 11, 2014
Remembering a Lost Bird: The Centennial of the Extinction of the Passenger Pigeon – Dr. Stanley A. Temple


FOA-LL14_passenger pigeon_150In 1914, the last surviving Passenger Pigeon died in a Cincinnati Zoo, ending a calamitous half-century in which the pigeon declined from billions to one, and then to none as a result of uncontrolled market hunting and the resulting disruption of nesting colonies. The loss of one of the world’s most abundant birds stands as the iconic extinction event in our country’s history. The 2014 centennial of this tragedy provides a teachable moment about the world’s ongoing extinction crisis and our relationship with other species.

In 1947, the Wisconsin Society for Ornithology erected the Passenger Pigeon Monument at Wyalusing State Park, and for the occasion Aldo Leopold penned one of the most poignant essays ever written about extinction, “On a Monument to the Pigeon,” which later appeared in his classic book A Sand County Almanac. This tragic centennial offers a unique opportunity to talk about the significance of the passenger pigeon’s demise for the ongoing extinction crisis the world is experiencing today.

Dr. Stanley Temple is the Beers-Bascom Professor Emeritus in Conservation in the Department of Forest and Wildlife Ecology and former Chairman of the Conservation Biology and Sustainable Development Program in the Gaylord Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies at the UW–Madison. For 32 years he held the academic position once occupied by Aldo Leopold, and during that time he won every teaching award for which he was eligible.

Temple is currently a Senior Fellow with the Aldo Leopold Foundation. He has received major awards from the Society for Conservation Biology, The Wildlife Society, the Wisconsin Society for Ornithology, the American Ornithologists’ Union, the Explorer’s Club, the Wildlife Conservation Society, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Temple has served as President of the Society for Conservation Biology, Chairman of the Board of The Nature Conservancy in Wisconsin and participated in several working groups of the Wisconsin Initiative on Climate Change Impacts.

Thursday, October 23, 2014
Conservation Efforts for the Endangered American Marten in Wisconsin – Carly Lapin


FOA-LL14_Marten-intro-photo_150The American marten (Martes americana) is a member of the Mustelid family, carnivorous weasels that range in size from the tiny least weasel to ermine, mink, skunks, and otters on up to fishers and wolverines. They weigh about 2 pounds and have plush, lustrous fur and long bushy tails one-third of their total length. They are mostly nocturnal and prey heavily on small rodents in the forest, but also eat fruits and birds.

Also known as the pine marten, the species was found nearly statewide throughout the forested regions of Wisconsin before European settlement, but their numbers and distribution declined due to unregulated trapping and habitat loss. Although trapping martens was prohibited in 1921, they were considered extirpated from the state by 1925 and are currently the only state-endangered mammal. Three major reintroduction efforts have occurred since a recovery plan was developed in 1986 to reestablish martens in the forests of northern Wisconsin.

Wildlife ecologists consider the marten one of the best indicators that Wisconsin’s northern forests are healthy. When the environment is improved to help martens, other species also flourish, including the pileated woodpecker and barred owl. The DNR reports that there are now two major populations of the American marten in Wisconsin, both in remote areas of the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest in the northern third of our state. The total population is difficult to estimate because of the animal’s furtive, nocturnal habits, but could be around 260 or more. The management plan, which calls for more studies of the animal as well as management of forests to foster marten habitat, indicates that a population of around 300 is probably best for guaranteeing that the marten numbers remain healthy for the next 100 years.

This presentation will provide information on the history of marten management in Wisconsin over the past four decades. It will also examine current research and management efforts to aid in recovering this important member of our natural heritage.

Lapin is a Conservation Biologist within the Bureau of Natural Heritage Conservation of the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, stationed in Rhinelander. She is the department’s expert on bald eagle management and related conservation issues and also works on American marten and wood turtle projects. Lapin has Bachelor’s degrees from UW–Madison in Conservation Biology and Spanish and a Master’s Degree from the University of Minnesota in Integrated Biosciences.

Thursday, November 13, 2014
The Art of Field Guide Illustration – Thomas Schultz


FOA-LL14_Schultz_200Thomas Schultz has been a full-time bird artist and illustrator for more than 25 years. Since 1981, he has had seven paintings juried into the prestigious Leigh Yawkey Woodson Birds in Art exhibition in Wausau, with one of his pieces placed into the museum’s permanent collection in 1993. This annual exhibit attracts submissions of bird art from around the world and has become the premier show of its kind.

He was one of the artists who illustrated the National Geographic Society’s Field Guide to the Birds of North America (1983), and contributed additional illustrations for the 3rd, 4th, and 5th editions of this popular field guide, as well as illustrations for National Geographic’s Complete Birds of North America in 2006. Tom was commissioned by the Smithsonian Institution to illustrate some plates for their new field guide to the Birds of South Asia (2005), and was one of two illustrators who did the paintings for the Peterson Field Guide to the Warblers of North America (1997). In 1988 he was selected as the Wisconsin Wildlife Artist of the Year by Wisconsin Sportsman Magazine.

Schultz is an expert in the identification of North American birds, and is active with the Wisconsin Society for Ornithology (WSO) where he serves as Field Trip Committee co-chair, and has been a member of the Board of Directors and on the Steering Committee of the Wisconsin Breeding Bird Atlas project, a project where he also served as photo editor, writer and regional coordinator. He enjoys birding throughout North America and in the American tropics, and has led WSO birding tours to Venezuela, Costa Rica, and other destinations. Schultz maintains an active art studio in his rural Wisconsin home, where he is surrounded by the forests, fields and marshes that provide unlimited inspirations for future paintings.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015
Paul Bunyan, Out of the Northwoods: How the Private Jokes of Lumberjacks Became America’s Best-Known Folk Hero – Michael Edmonds


FOA-LL14_Bunyan book_150Every American knows the tall tales about the lumberjack hero Paul Bunyan and his big blue ox, Babe. For 100 years, his exploits filled cartoons, magazines, short stories, and children’s books, and his name advertised everything from pancake breakfasts to construction supplies. By 1950, Bunyan was a ubiquitous icon of America’s strength and ingenuity, but no one knew where he came from and the extent to which this mythical hero is rooted in Wisconsin.

This presentation tells the true tale behind Bunyan’s origins in the Wisconsin northwoods. It includes eyewitness accounts of how the first Bunyan stories were shared on frigid winter nights around logging camp stoves in the Wisconsin pine forests. It describes where the tales began, how they moved out of the forest and into print, and why publication changed them forever.

By sifting through the unpublished manuscripts of early editors of the tales, Edmonds unearthed dozens of authentic Bunyan stories told aloud by lumberjacks early in the last century. He’ll recount a saga of lies, hoaxes, thefts, and greed that carried Bunyan out of the woods, into print, onto the children’s shelves in every public library, and ultimately onto YouTube. He’ll also describe how printing and publication forever changed the oral tales, and share some of the earliest authentic Bunyan stories as they were told aloud by Wisconsin lumberjacks during the 1880s and 1890s. The central characters include a genial northern Wisconsin con-man who claimed he invented the lumberjack hero, a spunky University of Wisconsin co-ed who collected the tales in logging camps in 1915, and a mild-mannered curator of the Wisconsin Historical Museum who lifted federal documents to keep the truth alive.

Edmonds is deputy director of the Library-Archives division at the Wisconsin Historical Society, where he has worked since 1982. For the last decade he has overseen the Society’s efforts to digitize collections, putting nearly half a million pages of manuscripts, rare books, journals, and photos onto the Web. He has also taught at the University of Wisconsin as an adjunct lecturer and writes the weekly syndicated newspaper column, “Odd Wisconsin,” and the blog of the same name. His book Out of the Northwoods: The Many Lives of Paul Bunyan, on which this talk is based, was published by the Wisconsin Historical Society. Signed copies of the book will be available for purchase after the presentation.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015
Why Do Birds Sing? – Dr. Lauren Riters


FOA-LL14_starling_150Why do birds sing? It isn’t for food or merely for pleasure or dreams of lucrative record deals. It is, of course, for love. The goal is clear: sing the strongest, win the hearts of the best (and most) females and have lots of strapping babies to carry on the family genes.

But what really gets a fellow in the mood? And how does he know when to give it his all and when to let the vocal chords rest? Scientists have understood how birds sing for decades but why they sing—the environmental and biological cues that provide a motive beyond the obvious—is still a largely unanswered question.

In her research, Riters, Professor in the UW–Madison Department of Zoology and affiliated faculty member in the Psychology Department, and her students, study this topic in songbirds. She has been studying European starlings for years and has learned that they sing one of the longest and most complex songs and continue to learn new songs each year. She is just beginning to puzzle out what makes a bird feel like singing and what happens in the brain between that moment and the time he twitters away. She and her students are asking questions like: How important is the amount and quality of light? The presence of females? The setting? Riters will offer insights into bird behavior and share new research results into this fascinating topic.

Monday, March 23, 2015
Finding Family: New Discoveries from Ancient Genomes – Dr. John Hawks


FOA-LL14_Hawkes_200For those who think the forces of natural selection no longer apply to modern humans, paleoanthropologist Dr. John Hawks would urge you to reconsider. In recent times—that’s 10 to 20 thousand years, for a paleoanthropologist—he says we’ve picked up genetic variations in skin color and other traits that allow us to break down starch and digest cheese.

The origin of our species was surprisingly complex. We have within us the genes of ancient Africans, Neandertals, and a mysterious population known as the Denisovans. Only a relative handful of genetic changes mark humans today as different from these ancient people. So how did the characteristics of modern humans, including complex social systems, symbolic thought, and language evolve?

New discoveries point in a surprising direction: modern humans used a diversity of genes in a common social environment to bootstrap themselves to humanity. With the origin of modern human behavior, cultural evolution began to direct our genetic evolution, with rapid and unprecedented results. Hawks, paleoanthropologist and Vilas-Borghesi Distinguished Achievement Professor of anthropology at UW–Madison, is an expert on human evolution and genetics, best known for his work demonstrating the recent rapid evolution of humans within the past 10,000 years and for exploring the contribution of ancient Neandertals to the ancestry of people living today.

He has done field work in Africa, Asia, and Europe, combining skeletal evidence from fossils with new information from genetics to uncover how humans evolved. His blog is one of the top international resources on human evolution and genetics and receives over 2 million visits each year, with almost half coming from outside the U.S. His work has been featured in numerous magazine articles, the New York Times, National Public Radio, and he has been an on-screen expert and consultant for National Geographic TV, Public Broadcasting NOVA specials, and the Discovery Channel.

Early in his career, Hawks focused on fossil and archaeological evidence for human evolution, but as the Human Genome Project was completed, he became one of the first paleoanthropologists to use both genetic and fossil information to test hypotheses about human prehistory. More recently, his work on Neandertals has broken new ground, and his prediction that humans and Neandertals likely interbred has been confirmed by the analysis of Neandertal DNA. He is an award-winning researcher and in demand all over the world as a guest lecturer on this topic.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015
A Geologic Romp Through the Driftless Area of Wisconsin – Richard Slaughter


FOA-LL14_driftless_200The Driftless Area, which consists largely of southwestern Wisconsin, is a unique landscape rich with exceptional scenery and distinctive ecosystems. Unlike the rest of Wisconsin, this region was not overrun by glaciers during the last Ice Age. Its rugged hills and steep valleys were spared.

The name “Driftless Area” has nothing to do with snow drifts. Instead, it refers to a different kind of drift—a mixture of rocks and ground up debris that’s left behind by melting glaciers. Although the Driftless Area’s topography dates back to the Ice Age, its underlying rock layers are much older (~ 450 million years old) and were deposited when Wisconsin was south of the equator. Wisconsin geology is a great testament to how much our planet can change. Parts of our state that were once beneath half a mile of ice were previously submerged beneath tropical seas. While the Driftless Area is best known for its craggy landscape, there is so much more to its geologic history.

This is your chance to learn more about the rock layers, caves, fossils, and mines of this special region. Slaughter, Director of the UW–Madison Geology Museum, loves making people more curious, especially about geology. In this pursuit, he has excavated tons (literally tons) of dinosaur fossils for display, and helped organize a jazz concert which musically explored the concept of deep time. To reach as wide an audience as possible, Slaughter regularly promotes geology at non-traditional venues for science outreach. In the last few years, he has captivated crowds at minor league ballparks, breweries, movie theaters, and the Wisconsin State Capitol.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015
New Worlds, New Horizons – Dr. Margaret Turnbull


FOA-LL14_universe Turnbull_150Will we ever find another Earth? Dr. Margaret Turnbull specializes in the effort to discover habitable planets orbiting nearby stars, and will describe the most recent exoplanet discoveries and the pathway forward for NASA and other space agencies. The challenges involved in asking “Are we alone?” are many, but the desire to know how we fit in the universe continues to drive new technologies and transform our view of the heavens.

From her home office in Antigo, Wisconsin, freelance astronomer and astrobiologist Maggie searches for signs of extraterrestrial life. She is internationally known for her work cataloging potential habitable planets and was named in Wired magazine’s “Smart List 2012: 50 people who will change the world.” She has made the most detailed census of our immediate solar neighborhood to catalog the stars most likely to develop intelligent alien civilizations. Starting with 120,000 cataloged stars, she narrowed her list to 17,129 and has recently reduced that list down to 10 candidates.

This patience paid off when NASA funded the New Worlds Observatory, where Maggie serves as lead scientist. The concept for this mission is to develop a space telescope to look for Earthlike planets beyond our solar system starting with the stars on her list. She even has an asteroid named for her! She is committed to sharing the science behind her work and is a sought after speaker for audiences of all backgrounds throughout the world.

Saturday, June 6, 2015, 9 a.m., Annual Meeting Breakfast Buffet
Presentation: Challenges to Conserving Wisconsin’s Butterflies – Susan Borkin

FOA-LL14_Borkin-butterlfy_200Please join us as we celebrate another year of providing interesting and enlightening programs, activities, and trips for our members along with financial and volunteer support for the Arboretum. We will start the day with a delicious buffet breakfast, followed by our short business meeting.

For more information, please see the Friends Annual Meeting page.