2022 Land Conservation Leadership Award Winners

Graphic announcing the 2022 Land Conservation Leadership Award winners and their organizations.

Gathering Waters is pleased to announce the winners of the 2022 Land Conservation Leadership Awards.

The awards honor individuals and organizations that devote their time and talents to protecting Wisconsin’s land, water, and wildlife. 

Five winners were selected for awards this year. 

  • Meta Reigel Brandt – Harold “Bud” Jordahl Lifetime Achievement Award 
  • Town of Dunn – Working Lands Preservation Award 
  • Benedictine Women of Madison – Land Legacy Award 
  • Todd Holschbach – Land Trust Professional of the Year 
  • Ice Age Trail Alliance Advocacy Committee – Land Trust Volunteer of the Year

In 2022, two new award categories were added: Land Trust Professional of the Year and Land Trust Volunteer of the Year. Award winners are chosen by a Selection Committee. 

Award winners will be presented with the Land Conservation Leadership Awards at local events throughout the next year. Stay tuned for more information! Read about each of the award winners below. 

Meet the 2022 Land Conservation Leadership Award Winners!

Meta Reigel Brandt – Harold “Bud” Jordahl Lifetime Achievement Award

Meta Reigel Brandt has dedicated her life to environmental education and natural resource management. She developed environmental courses and taught at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, and worked at nature centers as an environmental educator. She also served as Administrative Director for the Wisconsin Association for Environmental Education (WAEE). 

In 2005, Brandt permanently protected her 195-acre property in Springstead with a conservation easement. She was an active board member with Northwoods Land Trust (NWLT) for 16 years. During her tenure, NWLT protected over 12,000 acres of land. Now retired, she continues to be a strong advocate for land protection, especially in the Northwoods of Wisconsin. 

Town of Dunn – Working Lands Preservation Award

The Town of Dunn protects working agricultural lands from development through their Purchase of Development Rights (PDR) program. In 1996, residents voted to create the PDR program, making the Town of Dunn the first community in the state to use PDR to protect working farm lands. The Town has partnered with Groundswell Conservancy to co-hold conservation easements that specify land use and with other organizations on farmland protection.

The Town of Dunn’s efforts were led for many years by former Town Chair Ed Minihan, who passed away in August 2021. His legacy and vision live on through the Town’s current Board members: Chair Steve Greb, Jeff Hodgson, and Rosalind Gausman, and with the volunteers that serve on the Town’s Land Trust Commission. The Town of Dunn now holds conservation easements on just over 3,800 acres, protecting 18 percent of the Town’s land base.

Benedictine Women of Madison – Land Legacy Award

The Benedictine Women of Madison (BWM) are a monastic community of five sisters who live and work at Holy Wisdom Monastery in Middleton. A core part of their mission is the active restoration and maintenance of 191 acres. The BWM developed a master plan in the 1990s and started restoring the land to native habitat.

They dredged Lost Lake in 1996, seeded 120 acres of prairie and oak savanna since 1996, built a LEED-certified platinum building in 2009, and purchased 53 acres of land slated for development in 2012. In 2017, the BWM received the international Assisi Award from the Society for Conservation Biology for more than 60 years of conservation efforts.

Beyond their work on the monastery grounds, the BWM have partnered with Dane County on the restoration and stewardship of County lands, including the North Mendota Wildlife Area adjacent to the monastery. They also work to eliminate runoff into nearby Lake Mendota and have set aside land for a planned biking/hiking path that will connect to Gov. Nelson State Park. 

Todd Holschbach – Land Trust Professional of the Year

Todd Holschbach is a passionate advocate for nature. As Director of Government Relations for The Nature Conservancy in Wisconsin for nearly 20 years, Holschbach has successfully worked to secure funding and support for conservation projects in Wisconsin and nationwide.

In 2021-22, he advocated for the inclusion of habitat and species protection, green infrastructure, flood mitigation, invasive species prevention and climate resiliency provisions in numerous federal proposals, including the Infrastructure and Investment Jobs Act (IIJA) and through the federal appropriations process. 

At the state level, Todd has advocated for, and defended, the Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Fund for many years and in 2021-22 worked with colleagues and the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources on the successful 301-acre, Stewardship-Funded, addition to Devils Lake State Park.

Ice Age Trail Alliance Advocacy Committee – Land Trust Volunteer of the Year

The dedicated volunteers of the Ice Age Trail Alliance Advocacy Committee work tirelessly to ensure the Ice Age National Scenic Trail is protected and supported. They analyze policy issues to determine the best course of action, educate Trail supporters to locally amplify the message, and meet with elected officials at all levels of government to garner support.

In recent years, the Committee encouraged elected officials to support the Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program, federal Land & Water Conservation Fund, and local conservation efforts, which provide critical funding and partnerships necessary to conserve, create, maintain, and promote the Ice Age Trail. As a result, the Ice Age Trail Alliance has successfully protected dozens of miles of Ice Age Trail across the state, which will be enjoyed for generations to come.