Welcome to the Gottfried Prairie and Arboretum

At one time, most of Fond du Lac County was covered by prairie -- native grasslands that were home to bison, prairie chickens, bobolinks and other wildlife. At the Gottfried Prairie and Arboretum on the UW-Fond du Lac campus, a group of volunteers has reestablished the native plants that once grew on this site.

The project began in 1991, with the goal of representing the original plant communities of Wisconsin in a small arboretum. At present, volunteers have planted 42 acres of native prairie grasses and wildflowers, developed two wildlife ponds and planted 176 native trees and shrubs. Most of the wildflower seeds were collected from some of the last remaining original prairie sites in Fond du Lac County. To educate local residents there's an interpretive trail as well as six benches, two picnic tables, and a kiosk for recreation.

The Formal Arboretum is an innovative attempt to depict the native plants and plant communities of Wisconsin in a design representing the "Tension Zone" of our state. This is the area of overlap of northern and southern Wisconsin plant communities, which occurs in the Fond du Lac area. It consists of savannah, lowland forests and northern mixed forests, plus their associated wildflowers.

The Gottfried Prairie and Arboretum is named for Bradley Gottfried, former dean of UW-Fond du Lac, and a major force behind the project's initiation and development. Dean Gottfried's vision and persistence have resulted in the restoration of a portion of native prairie for county residents to enjoy.

Educational Programs

Create a Winter Wreath and Swag's Photo

Create a Winter Wreath and Swag

Jackie Scharfenburg
Thursday, November 9, at 1:00-3:30 p.m. and 6:00-8:30 p.m.
The Ice Age Visitor Center
Wednesday, November 15 at 1:00 to 3:30 p.m. and 6:00 to 8:30 p.m. Lakeside Pavilion


Please note that this class will be offered at four separate times. The first two will be at the Northern Kettle Moraine State Forest Ice Age Center near Dundee and the other two at Lakeside Park Pavilion in Fond du Lac. Using a variety of natural materials, we will create a beautiful wreath and swag that will enhance your home's winter decor.  Please bring along a pruning shears and gloves. We will use the dried flower and grass seed heads from the prairie. Registration is required, fee is $20 to cover materials. Please call 920-940-8869.

Jackie Scharfenberg is a Forest Naturalist/Natural Resources Educator with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources the Kettle Moraine State Forest - Northern Unit.  She enjoys teaching all aspects of environmental education.  Her goal is to get people connected or re-connected with the natural world if it be through creating a nature craft, learning something about nature, trying a new outdoor skill or experiencing nature first hand.