Steve and Susan Carpenter: 2023 Land Legacy Award

Three people standing outside on a sunny day displaying an award certificate and ceramic vase.

Gathering Waters presented Steve and Susan Carpenter with the 2023 Land Legacy Award on October 21, 2023 at a small private celebration at the UW Arboretum in Madison.

Steve is an emeritus professor at UW-Madison’s Center for Limnology where he has focused on fisheries and water quality of Wisconsin’s lakes. Steve has been a constant advocate for Wisconsin’s water resources. He is able to present technical knowledge in understandable ways, teaching the importance of protecting lakes, rivers, and groundwater.

Susan is the native plant garden curator at the UW-Madison Arboretum and an advocate for native plants and pollinators, especially bumblebees. She shares her knowledge on sustainable gardening practices and citizen-based monitoring with the public and conservation organizations around the state to promote pollinator habitats.

“Not only have Steve and Susan Carpenter devoted their careers to conservation, they have also committed to protecting and restoring the property they own in Grant County, leaving behind a permanent legacy of land that future generations will benefit from,” said Mike Carlson, executive director of Gathering Waters.

Over the past two decades, Steve and Susan have worked to preserve and restore their land along the Blue River in the Driftless Area in Grant County. The Carpenters worked closely with Trout Unlimited to restore the streambank corridor to improve floodplain functionality and maximize native diversity. In 2009, they permanently protected their land with a conservation easement with Mississippi Valley Conservancy. Since then, they acquired additional adjacent land also protected with a conservation easement.

“Steve and Susan Carpenter incorporate land conservation into their daily life. Their land is a visible example of responsible management prioritizing biodiversity, and their legacy speaks for itself,” said Abbie Church, conservation director at Mississippi Valley Conservancy.

About the Land Conservation Leadership Awards

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

About the Land Legacy Award

This award recognizes individuals, families, or organizations whose extraordinary generosity and philanthropic leadership has significantly benefited land conservation in Wisconsin.

Photo credit: Tim Eisele. Pictured from left to right: Steve Carpenter; Susan Carpenter; and Mike Carlson, Gathering Waters.