Benedictine Women of Madison Presented With 2022 Land Legacy Award

Five women standing close together and holding wildflowers out in front of them

The Benedictine Women of Madison received the 2022 Land Legacy Award from Gathering Waters on Tuesday, June 21, 2022 during a community picnic at Holy Wisdom Monastery in Middleton, Wisconsin.

The Benedictine Women of Madison (the BWM or the sisters) are a monastic community of five sisters who live and work at Holy Wisdom Monastery. A core part of their mission is the active restoration and maintenance of 191 acres at the monastery grounds. 

The sisters started restoring the land in the 1990s. Their first major project was to dredge Lost Lake in 1996 when they removed 85,000 cubic yards of accumulated silt and planted the shoreline with native species.

They continued their restoration efforts by planting 120 acres of prairie and oak savanna, using seeds collected or donated by volunteers. Since then, several threatened and endangered species have been spotted at Holy Wisdom Monastery, including the Red-headed Woodpecker, Rusty-patched Bumblebee, and Regal Fritillary. 

After restoring much of the land, they upgraded their old building with a new LEED Platinum building in 2009, and installed 463 new solar panels in 2014, which provide about 60 percent of their energy needs. Their goal is to generate 100 percent of their energy needs onsite within the next two years.

Beyond their work on the monastery grounds, the sisters have partnered with Dane County on the restoration and stewardship of County lands, including the North Mendota Wildlife Area next to the monastery. They have set aside land for a planned biking and hiking path that will connect to Governor Nelson State Park in the future. 

The nature trails at Holy Wisdom Monastery are open to the public year-round. Visitors are asked do their part to keep the natural areas a place of reflection by leaving pets at home, staying on marked trails, and removing any litter. 

The Benedictine Women of Madison have created a thriving natural area that is a haven for native plants and animals, and a special place that visitors can experience and enjoy. Gathering Waters is grateful to the sisters for their dedication to land conservation and for sharing the monastery grounds with the community. 

About the Land Conservation Leadership Awards

The Land Conservation Leadership Awards recognize the outstanding achievements and contributions of people who devote their time and talents to protecting Wisconsin’s land, water, and wildlife. The awards are presented annually to conservation leaders by Gathering Waters.

About the Land Legacy Award

The Land Legacy Award recognizes individuals, families, or organizations whose extraordinary generosity and leadership has significantly benefited land conservation in Wisconsin.