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

Plants of the Arctic

Judy Lasca
Wednesday, September 20, 2017 at 7:00 p.m.
Room UC-114 UW-FDL


"Plants of the Arctic" gives an overview of the wide variety of plants and the unique challenges they face in the polar environment, touching also on the magnificence of the landscape and the variety of life found here, past and present. 

Judy Lasca has traveled widely in the Arctic - through the Northeast Passage along the top of Russia, the Northwest Passage across Alaska and Canada, to the Franz Josef Islands, around Greenland, to the High Canadian Arctic, to many parts of both Ellesmere Island and Svalbard - over a number of years. On each of many eco-cruises on Russian icebreakers she served as writer of the official log, recording journeys to and experiences in some of the most beautiful and remote parts of the globe.

Seed Collection Workshop

Margie Winter and David Demezas
Saturday, October 14, 2017 9 a.m. to noon
Meet at the Gottfried Prairie and Arboretum Shelter


We will begin the workshop with a discussion on seeds, including when and how to collect your favorite native plants. Participants will walk through the prairie and learn how to identify wildflowers and grasses in the seed stage. We will collect and clean the seed heads while learning how to store and propagate the seed for growing plants.

Margie Winter taught high school science for 31 years in the Sun Prairie and FDL School Districts. Margie is currently teaching an environmental science course and a prairie ecosystems and restoration course at Marian University. David Demezas, Ph.D. in microbiology from Oregon State University. Associate Professor of Biology at UW FdL where he teaches Biology, Botany, and Microbiology. His research interests include ecology of root nodulating rhizobia, microbiology of digestors on dairy farms, and allelopathic potential of garlic mustard. 

Halloween Hike

Saturday, October 21, 2017 from 7 to 9 p.m.
Meet at the Gottfried Prairie and Arboretum Shelter


This luminary Halloween hike will introduce five friendly characters talking about how they help the environment. Registration will take place at the Gottfried Prairie Arboretum shelter starting at 7 pm with the first hike starting at 7:15 pm and every 15 minutes after that. There will be homemade refreshments for sale with the proceeds going towards Gottfried Prairie educational programs. The hike takes place on a trail that is accessible for strollers and wheel chairs. All ages are welcome!