Blue and white patterned graphic with Winter Enrichment 2024 name and dates.

The Arboretum’s long-running Winter Enrichment series offers engaging talks and conversation for naturalists, volunteers, friends, and community members.

2024 Winter Enrichment Lectures

The 2024 lectures will take place on Thursday mornings in February and March. The February lectures will be virtual, the March lectures will be in person. Lectures are $10 each and advance registration is required.

Registration for the 2024 series is now open.

Students can register for free using the student registration form.

The Arboretum Research Symposium will take place February 29, in person at the Visitor Center. It is a free event and no registration is required.

Virtual Lectures

The February lectures will be held from 9 to 10:30 a.m. (CST). Virtual lectures will include automatic closed-captioning and automatic live transcripts. If you need an additional accommodation, please email Danielle Tanzer. Virtual lectures will be recorded and a link to view the recording will be available to registered participants only. Recordings will be available for one week.

February 1
What Are “Outlying Properties”? The Arboretum’s Unique Collection of Remnant Natural Areas
Brad Herrick, UW–Madison Arboretum Research Program Manager and Ecologist

Best known for its 1,200-acre site in Madison, the Arboretum also manages eleven properties around the state of significant historical and ecological value. These sites have informed our understanding of the land, conservation, and restoration in a changing world through the research and efforts of Aldo Leopold, John Curtis, and present-day researchers, educators, and land managers. Register by January 28.

February 8
The Tallgrass Prairie in Early America: The Center of Everything
Bob Morrissey, Professor, University of Illinois Department of History

Morrissey will explore the tallgrass prairie region (the modern corn belt) of North America and its remarkable premodern Indigenous history, and how people and non-human nature shaped each other during the early generations of European colonization. Tracing the rise and fall of midwestern Indigenous groups, the talk will highlight an extraordinary, diverse human history. Register by February 4.

February 15
Invasive Forest Insects and Diseases in and on the Way to Wisconsin
Mike Hillstrom, Forest Health Specialist, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources

Many invasive insects and diseases are impacting the health of Wisconsin’s forests, including spongy moth, emerald ash borer, oak wilt, and others. Hillstrom will discuss the status of pests already in the state and others in nearby states that are likely to arrive soon. Register by February 11.

February 22
Spiders: Tiny Tool-Users in Wisconsin and Beyond
Michael Draney, Professor of Biology, and Chair, Department of Natural and Applied Sciences, UW–Green Bay

Spiders are a common and misunderstood part of Wisconsin’s native biodiversity. They are also ancient, widespread, diverse, and important predators in ecosystems all over the world. Two evolutionary innovations – venom and silk – benefit them throughout their life cycle. Draney aims to foster appreciation for and positive relationships with our spider neighbors. Register by February 18.

In-Person Lectures

The Research Symposium and the March Winter Enrichment lectures will be in-person events held in the Visitor Center auditorium from 9 to 11:30 a.m. (CST). The in-person talks will not be streamed or recorded.

February 29
Arboretum Research Symposium
Student, faculty, and other researchers will present findings from projects on Arboretum lands and in the Lake Wingra watershed. The research symposium is a free event, no registration required. Visit the symposium webpage for more information.

March 7
How Art Speaks through Nature
Angie Trudell Vasquez, Madison Poet Laureate 2020–24

Vasquez’s poems weave nature and science together. She has been writing since childhood, and nature and social justice have been recurring themes. Vasquez believes art can move society forward and interact with science and other disciplines in meaningful ways. Register by March 3.

March 14
Fungi of the Arboretum
Jessica Ross (she/they), Conservation Biologist, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources

This talk will focus on an introduction to fungi, their ecological importance, and the basics of fungal identification. Ross will also discuss results from the Arboretum Fungal Diversity Project, a participatory science initiative, and talk about ways to get started observing and documenting the fungi that you see. Register by March 10.

March 21
Arboretum Land Care Spring News and Updates
UW–Madison Arboretum Land Care Team

Arboretum land care staff will give four mini-presentations about current ecological restoration work, the gardens as they emerge from winter, and ranger projects. A Q&A with staff will follow the presentations. Register by March 17.

March 28
Parasites, Pollutants, and People: Does Preserving Biodiversity Protect Amphibians from Diseases?
Jessica Hua (she/her), Associate Professor, UW–Madison Department of Forest and Wildlife Ecology

This talk will consider why some amphibian communities are more susceptible to disease than others. Hua will discuss how pollutants and land use influence biodiversity and amphibian health. She will also explore how art outreach and citizen science clarify human contributions to disease dynamics and also improve public engagement in science. Register by March 24.