Aster’s are in full bloom at the WILD Center

Posted by & filed under WILD Center News.

With October here, the New England Aster (Symphyotrichum novae-angliae) is beginning to bloom all over the WILD Center grounds. The New England Aster is very recognizable by their bright lavender to purplish flower heads. They usually grows 3 to 7 feet and flower from August to late October. Another common name people may know the New England Aster by is Christmas Daises because they bloom late in the year. In Wisconsin, there are over 30 species of Aster. Most Asters that people see in Wisconsin are native and were not brought from foreign countries.  The Swamp Aster (Symphyotrichum puniceum puniceum) is another species of Aster that is dominant on the WILD Center grounds.  See the Wild Ones website for more information about native plants and natural landscaping.



Aster 1                                                                           Crooked Stem Aster 2



Wild Ones New Executive Director Arrives

Posted by & filed under WILD Center News.

Monday, September 14th, 2015 was Gail Gerhardt’s first day as Wild Ones new Executive Director. Gail will be transitioning into her new position with the aid of Donna VanBuecken, who has spent the past 17 years as Executive Director of the organization.

Gail Gerhardt has:

  • Certificate in nonprofit organization management
  • Master’s degree in Management and Organizational Behavior
  • Bachelor’s degree in Business Management

Her work experience includes:

  • Executive director for a mechanical contractors association since 2001 (among many duties, she represented the conspirators board, maintained financial records including budgets, receipts, disbursements, financial statements, audits, and reports. She prepared meeting agendas and minutes.)
  • Crisis intervention counselor since 1998

Many of Donna’s innovations will be taken over by Gail in the upcoming six months. There is a lot for Gail to learn about Wild Ones including developing and maintaining the WILD Center, monthly email messaging from the Executive Director, publishing the Wild Ones Journal, keeping communications lines open, establishing partnerships and working with like-minded organizations, so we ask for your patience.

If you have questions or need to contact Gail, please email

See the Wild Ones website for more information about the organization and about native plants and natural landscaping.

Volunteer Opportunities at WILD Ones Wild Center

Posted by & filed under WILD Center News.

For anyone interested in volunteering at the WILD Center we are always looking for extra help!

Stop by on the first Thursday of each month and make sure to bring your gloves, tools, and a sturdy pair of shoes. Feel free to stop by anytime of the day on a first Thursday, or any day of the week, but if you plan to stop by between 4 p.m. – 8 p.m. on the first Thursday of the month, bring a dish to pass around. We’ll have a potluck around 6 p.m. and share some time together.  The next first Thursday is October 1st.

Don’t feel as though the first Thursday is the only time you can volunteer. We welcome any participation to help.

Some areas of volunteer possibilities at this time of year include

  • Buckhorn removal
  • Understory restoration
  • Invasive weed removal
  • Seed gathering
  • Deadheading more aggressive native plant species

and many more opportunities!

Call for more information at (920) 730-3986 or email


Read more on “Volunteer Opportunities at WILD Ones Wild Center” »

In the Wild

Posted by & filed under WILD Center News.

The Post Crescent newspaper   recently carried an interesting article about Wild Ones Executive Director Donna VanBuecken’s impending retirement.  It gives a brief summary of how the WILD Center came to be Wild Ones headquarters and mortgage-free.  FYI, Wild Ones started in 1979 and only clean sand and gravel was stored on our site during the PCB clean-up of the Fox River.

Read about the early years of the WILD Center’s history.


Monarch Release at WILD Center

Posted by & filed under Uncategorized.

Several Wild Ones members brought their monarch chrysalises along to our recent Annual Conference at the WILD Center, so we had the good fortune to see several monarch butterflies released.  View the video of a monarch release and let us know your thoughts about the potential loss of the monarch butterfly in the Midwest by commenting to this blog item.  The northeastern monarch migration is in grave danger because of the reduction in habitat, disease and use of chemicals by the agri-industry.  Learn more about what you can do and what other organizations and the US federal government is doing to try to stem this loose. 

Queen Anne’s Lace – Invasive Species

Posted by & filed under Uncategorized.

Following a recent call for volunteers to assist in removing Queen Anne’s Lace from the WILD Center’s prairie, I got an e-mail suggesting that I shouldn’t refer to this plant as a “weed” since it was merely a “plant out of place.”  I thought I would share my response with you.

“I’m sorry to disappoint you, but Queen Anne’s lace is a weed as confirmed by the US Forest Service.  Further it is considered an invasive species in a number of states besides Wisconsin.  If you GoodSearch  or Google Queen ‘Queen Anne lace invasive species,’ just the first page gives you MN, NC, WI, IL and BC besides several invasive species websites.

Yes, it is naturalized in the USA from Europe, but that doesn’t make it a native plant. In fact, it routinely outcompetes native plant species.  That’s why we try to keep it in check as much as possible.”

The best way to eradicate Queen Anne’s lace this time of year is to pull or cut it.  I was reminded by another e-mail, however, that pulling isn’t necessarily the best way to go – especially this time of the year when this biennial plant is reaching the end of its second year.  Cutting it now that is has blossomed should take care of it and by doing so, the seed bank is not disturbed.

To find out more about invasive plants  click on the Learn tab above,  then the “Native Plants and Natural Landscaping” menu item, and then curser down to the subtitle “So why not use non-native plants?”  There is a variety of articles on why and how to eradicate.

Also, consider promoting the eradication of our most dreaded invasive plant species garlic mustard and buckthorn by wearing your favorite t-shirt.


Milkweed Toxins — are they a problem?

Posted by & filed under Uncategorized.

We are asked occasionally about the toxins in the milkweed that we have growing in our native plant gardens and our prairie at the WILD Center.  The concern is that the milkweed is poisonous.  Since our gardens are registered as Monarch Waystations, we asked  Monarch Watch Director Chip Taylor how to answer that question.  Here’s what he said:

“Monarch Waystations need to contain both milkweeds and nectar plants.  The milkweeds have a minor amount of toxins.  Toxins would only be a problem for those who actively forage on the plants or get sap on their fingers and then stick their finger in their eyes. The leaves are so bitter that one bite deters most human grazers. And, unless there are reasons to harvest foliage to feed larvae, there is no need to pick leaves or cut stems. Should one unknowingly get the sap in their eyes, the eye irritation can be quite uncomfortable and concerning but usually clears up in three days.”

To learn more about milkweed, check out some of the Monarch Matters articles on our WFM (Wild for Monarchs) webpages.

Wild Ones Annual Conference — Flight of the Monarch

Posted by & filed under Uncategorized.

The public is invited to attend this year’s annual Wild Ones conference held under the circus tent in the WILD Center prairie August 14-16, 2015 in Neenah, Wisconsin.

Friday evening’s reception, August 14, features author Bill Berry who will tell conference attendees about the amazing people featured in his book Banning DDT:  How Citizen Activists in Wisconsin Led the Way.  Lorrie Otto, on whose philosophy Wild Ones was founded, was one of these amazing people.  Hear what Bill has to say about this passionate lady.

There are workshops throughout the weekend, but Saturday afternoon’s workshop, August 15, will feature Karen and Sanny Oberhauser conducting a citizen science workshop under the circus tent in the prairie.  It will be a great opportunity for every one of all ages to learn about the many aspects of citizen science as it relates to monarch butterflies.

There are other workshops planned throughout the entire weekend along with a lot of great food.  Check  the agenda. This will be the last Wild Ones Annual Conference hosted by Executive Director Donna VanBuecken.  Plan to stop by and wish her well as she prepares to turn over the reins the next Wild Ones Executive Director.

The WILD Center is located at 2285 Butte des Morts Beach Rd in Neenah.