A man observes nature

This Earth Month, celebrate Wisconsin’s environmental pioneers

April 5, 2023 Alyssa Beno Leave a Comment

Earth Month is upon us! PBS Wisconsin invites you to celebrate Wisconsin’s role in inspiring a dedication toward preserving the environment through those who have lived, visited and taught here with the following clips and programs.

Aldo Leopold

Considered by many to be the father of wildlife ecology and the United States’ wilderness system, the Iowa-born Aldo Leopold was a professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison whose non-fiction book, A Sand County Almanac (1949), helped inspire and inform the environmental movement.

Gaylord Nelson

Gaylord Nelson had an idea for a day focused on the environment. That idea would become the internationally recognized annual event, Earth Day, and would inspire generations of people to learn about and care for the earth. Born and raised in Clear Lake, Wisconsin, Gaylord went on to become a state senator, governor of Wisconsin and a United States senator.

With every step he took in his career and in his life, he kept his eyes on the environment. He advocated for change in the halls of government, in classrooms, and in communities, to ensure a better world for us all.

Emma Toft

Explore the work of Door County’s environmental pioneer, Emma Toft. Despite commercial development just down the road, Toft Point, near Bailey’s Harbor, remains as it was over a thousand years ago. Emma Toft was a lady of the wilderness and was willing to fight for the land and the respect of plants and animals. This is a story of her preservation and perseverance.

Milly Zantow

When Milly Zantow learned about a problem in her Sauk County community—a landfill closing much earlier than it should—she took action. Seeing for herself that there was too much plastic waste, she thought it should be recycled. At that time, no one was recycling plastics, but Milly figured it out. She went on to come up with the idea for the numbering system to identify plastics for recycling, now used worldwide, and she helped with the writing of Wisconsin’s recycling law, making her a real revolutionary for an important cause.

Chief Oshkosh

During a time when the United States government was pushing many American Indian nations off their lands, Chief Oshkosh worked to negotiate treaties that would allow the Menominee to stay in their homeland. He also promoted his people’s traditional forest management practices, known today as sustainable forestry.

Jerry Apps

Author and historian Jerry Apps is one of Wisconsin’s most beloved storytellers. In this special, he shares his passion for the land and local farming with his grandsons.

John Muir

The University of Wisconsin grad and Scottish American John Muir is also known as the “Father of the National Park Service.” Muir was many things – inventor, immigrant, botanist, writer and co-founder of the Sierra Club.

1 thought on “This Earth Month, celebrate Wisconsin’s environmental pioneers”

  • I hope these people and what they did and said is being taught to our children in school. It is so important to remember and talk about the people in our history who were the forerunners of the environmental movement in our country and the world. I am 83, and in my one room country grade school we were taught about conservation of natural resources. I grew up on a farm and learned about farming practices that reduced erosion like contour plowing. I learned to appreciate nature, especially wildflowers, and birds.
    Thank you, Karen Kvool, Hartland WI

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