WCHF Announces 2019 Inductees

WCHF Announces 2019 Inductees
Scott Craven, Don L Johnson, and Aroline Schmitt

The Wisconsin Conservation Hall of Fame Foundation (WCHF) has announced the selection of three  conservation leaders for induction on April 13, 2019 at 2:00 p.m. at the SentryWorld (the Atrium) in Stevens Point. The public is invited.

A coffee reception will be held at 12:30 p.m. prior to the Induction Ceremony on Saturday, April 13th at SentryWorld in Stevens Point. Following the ceremony, there will be a luncheon at 4:30 p.m. at SentryWorld (the Atrium). The Induction Ceremony and Coffee Reception are free and open to the public.

Reservations for lunch ($25 per person) may be made online or by calling Schmeeckle Reserve at 715-346-4992.

Saturday, April 13, 2019
SentryWorld (the Atrium) in Stevens Point

12:30 p.m. Coffee Reception (free)
2:00 p.m. Induction Ceremony (free)
4:30 p.m. Luncheon – ($25/person)

The inductees this year include Scott Craven, a well-known UW-Madison Wildlife Professor who advanced the public’s understanding an appreciation for Wisconsin’s wildlife and natural resources through his Public Radio Programs; Don L Johnson, a popular wildlife newspaper columnist for the Milwaukee Sentinel; and Aroline Schmitt, a pioneering woman and citizen conservationist who worked to advance sustainable forestry.

Scott Craven (1948 – ) 

Scott Craven is an ambassador for Wisconsin’s wildlife, with a gift of sharing his knowledge and enthusiasm for Wisconsin’s natural resources.  As a popular UW- Madison Wildlife Professor, he reached thousands through his UW-Extension presentations, publications, and programs on wildlife, natural resources, and the land ethic.

He also found a niche in public education through public radio and other prominent media outlets.   As a gifted speaker, he has a unique way of captivating his audience with facts, stories and humor.  He has helped educate the public on how to attract wildlife and how to thoughtfully deal with nuisance wildlife and wildlife damage. Scott also provided service and leadership to hundreds of agencies and organizations, and to thousands of private home and land owners, through his selfless contributions of time and effort.

His time in Wisconsin started in 1972 as a graduate student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in the Department of Wildlife Ecology, continuing for more than 40 years as a Professor, Extension Wildlife Specialist, and Department Chair.  He was an advisor and mentor to hundreds of undergraduate and graduate students through classes, internships and independent study projects. He also advanced youth education in Wisconsin through his 4-H leadership efforts and hunter education progr

Scott Craven has been one of the most influential conservation educators in Wisconsin in the last half century.  Since his retirement Scott has continued to be a committed conservationist and prolific ambassador for wildlife. He is known and respected in virtually every corner of the state and has received numerous awards for his contributions to conservation from many organizations, agencies, and universities including The Wildlife Society, UW- Madison and UW-Extension, Wisconsin 4-H, USDA -Wildlife Services, and the Wildlife Management Institute.

Don L. Johnson (1927 – 2006)

For a period spanning more than four decades, Don L. Johnson was one of Wisconsin’s best-known outdoor writers and columnists. He wrote extensively about hunting and fishing in Wisconsin, first for the Eau Claire Leader and Telegram and then for the Milwaukee Sentinel. But he also tackled complex public policy issues affecting the state’s natural resources including wildlife management, preservation of wildlands, and the regulation of environmental pollution. He became a major educator of the public during a critical period in the development of conservation advocacy and government regulatory policy.

Johnson was a pioneer in environmental journalism, responsible for groundbreaking and influential reporting on issues as diverse as environmental contamination by DDT and other chlorinated hydrocarbons, mercury pollution in state waterways, and harm done to waterfowl by use of lead shot. Don’s reporting contributed to positive changes in public policy, with longer-term benefits to Wisconsin’s natural heritage.

With a love of nature and conservation, Don Johnson received his degree in journalism and biology in 1951 from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. In addition to his work with newspapers, Johnson was widely published as a freelance writer in many outdoor-oriented publications. He wrote a series of short nature essays in the Sentinel which were published in book form in 2005 as Summer’s Song and Other Essays.

In addition to his journalism, he was an avid outdoorsman and was involved in public education pertaining to outdoor-related activities, promoted a wide-variety of outdoor sports, conducted workshops and clinics, and helped design the state’s first hunter-safety program. Through his writings and service, he also advanced the efforts and mission of many conservation-oriented organizations, including the Wisconsin Conservation Hall of Fame.

For his service and exemplary writing, he received many honors from conservation, environmental and outdoor organizations, including the Gordon MacQuarrie Award, and other awards from the Wisconsin Wildlife Federation, the Wisconsin Natural Resources Board, the EPA, and the Outdoor Writers Association of America.

Aroline Schmitt (1904 – 1995)

Aroline Schmitt is a good example of how women have been instrumental in leading citizen conservation crusades in Wisconsin and the nation. During the 1940 to the 1960’s, she advanced the principles and practice of sustainable forestry, organized and led new conservation organizations, and worked hand in hand with many other conservation leaders. Despite health challenges, she fought with tenacity and charisma to advance major conservation policies affecting Wisconsin’s natural heritage.

She became a passionate champion for “Forest Conservation” at both the State and national level.  Trained as a nurse, she began her conservation work during World War II in what was then a man’s world, surveying and cruising timber lands for the US Forest Service in Alaska and the west.   She continued in various roles with the Forest Service until 1961.  She promoted the principles of sustainable forestry and timber management, before the practice was known by that name.  She always prodded politicians, conservationists and industrial foresters to adopt good forestry practices. Working with Gifford Pinchot (former Director of the U.S. Forest Service) and others, she also helped establish and led a national conservation organization called “Forests.”

Her Wisconsin conservation efforts occurred from the 1930s to the 1960s.  A frequent speaker and advocate for strong resource policy, she was a prolific letter writer and traveled the state to participant in important meetings and legislative hearings.  She worked arm-in-arm with conservation luminaries including Aldo Leopold, William Aberg, and Wilhelmine La Budde.  She also helped to organize and lead the Citizens Natural Resources Association and the conservation programs of the Wisconsin Garden Club Federation.

She also played a pivotal role in protecting the Flambeau State Forest, the Menominee Tribal Forest, and the creation of Trees for Tomorrow and the Northern Forest Research Center.  She was recognized for her exemplary conservation work by the Citizens Natural Resources Association (Silver Acorn Award, 1961), the Wisconsin Garden Club Federation (1956), and the Izaak Walton League (Broughton Award, 1950).

For many years, due to persistent health problems, she fought her conservation battles from her bed and home office. With tenacity and dedication, she continued to influence conservation policy through her telephone calls, writings, and personal charisma.

The Wisconsin Conservation Hall of Fame

The Wisconsin Conservation Hall of Fame and Visitor Center, located at Schmeeckle Reserve in Stevens Point, was established in 1985 to advance the conservation legacy of Wisconsin and now recognizes 88 leaders who have contributed significantly to it. WCHF is a cooperative venture of 32 State-wide conservation organizations. Individuals may be nominated for induction by member organizations or by the public. Based on a set of criteria, nominees are selected for induction by the WCHF Board of Directors and an independent Board of Governors.

Full News Release for 2019 Induction Ceremony

Full News Release for 2019 Induction Ceremony

The full press release for the Wisconsin Conservation Hall of Fame 2019 Induction Ceremony for Scott Craven, Don Johnson and Aroline Schmitt has been published throughout Wisconsin and elsewhere.

2018 WCHF Induction Ceremony. Photo by Joe Passineau


Full News Release in pdf format

Full News Release in doc format


Thus year’s induction will take place at 2:00 p.m. Saturday, Earth Day, April 13, 2019 at Sentry Theater in Stevens Point. The public is invited.

A coffee reception will be held at 12:30 p.m., and the induction ceremony followed by a luncheon at 4:30 p.m. The Induction Ceremony and Coffee Reception are free and open to the public. Reservations for lunch ($25 per person) may be made online or by calling Schmeeckle Reserve at 715-346-4992.

WCHF People in the News

A recent article in the Shepherd Express featured several people associated with Wisconsin Conservation Hall of Fame (WCHF).  Entitled “Lessons from the Historic Banning of DDT,” Virginia Small covered everything from the historical to the current lessons learned through the process of banning DDT and mentions:

Lorrie Otto standing before her native landscaped yard. Photo by Ney Tait Fraser

Lorrie Otto – inducted into Hall of Fame 1999.

Joseph Hickey — inducted into Hall of Fame

Gaylord Nelson — inducted into Hall of Fame

Frederick L Ott — nominated to the Hall of Fame

Bill Berry — member of WCHF Board of Governors

She closed the article with several quotes from Whitney Gould, who covered the DDT hearings for the Capital Times.  “Environmental protection works….” “…Triumph of Science.” “…Citizen activism pays off.”

With “…the rise of the #MeToo Movement, blogging and social media has made it easier to mobilize concerned citizens around fraught issues. When people despair about the state of the environment, they can think back to what happened with DDT.” (Shepherd Express)


Mending the Earth

A new book featuring Lorrie Otto quite prominently has hit the shelves. Mending the Earth in Milwaukee, written and published by Ney Tait Fraser, is a how-to guide about natural landscaping in southeastern Wisconsin, but is written in such lyrical fashion it’s like reading about an urban adventure. The stories are about Lorrie Otto and 15 friends and acquaintances, some of who took the plunge as early as the 1970s and 1980s, who began converting their yards to natural landscaping using native plants. Their stories are about a love affair with native flora that continues through to today, and the many photos included in the book only add to the adventure.

Lorrie Otto who led the battle to ban DDT in Wisconsin in the 1960s, went on to promote the use of native plants and natural landscaping as a way to heal the Earth one yard at a time. The not-for-profit national organization Wild Ones: Native Plants, Natural Landscapes is a reflection of her passion and her efforts.

Lorrie was inducted into the WCHF in 1999.

For more information about Ney Tait Fraser’s book, see Journal Sentinel.


WCHF Receives Notice of Besadny Grant

WCHF was recently notified by the Natural Resources Foundation (NWF) that they will be receiving a C.D. Besadny Conservation grant for $1,000 to be used to develop a Touchscreen Computer Exhibit for Wisconsin Conservation Hall of Fame Gallery. The actual award will be delivered in person to the WCHF Board on November 3, 2018. Congratulations to WCHF.

Thank you to the Natural Resources Foundation.

List of other grant recipients.