Susan Foote-Martin and Mark Martin – Winners of the 2021 Harold “Bud” Jordahl Lifetime Achievement Award

An older woman and man kneeling with their two golden retrievers in a field in the fall.

Susan Foote-Martin and Mark Martin of Arlington received the 2021 Harold “Bud” Jordahl Lifetime Achievement Award, during an outdoor celebration held on September 15, 2021 in their honor. Seventy-five of the Martins’ closest friends and colleagues attended the event, which included monarch tagging and dinner at Madison Audubon’s Goose Pond Sanctuary in Arlington.

Susan and Mark are lifelong conservationists whose passion has impacted all corners of Wisconsin. They are dedicated to protecting land and water to ensure a healthy, resilient future for every plant, animal, and person in our state.

Susan started working in the conservation field as the Education Coordinator at the MacKenzie Environmental Education Center in Poynette. Later, she joined the Department of Natural Resource’s Bureau of Endangered Resources as a Conservation Biologist. In her role, Susan developed the Great Wisconsin Birding and Nature Trail, and assisted with the design and development of five new Endangered Resource license plates. Although she retired in 2009, Susan’s passion remains as strong as ever. She returned to the DNR for a short time to assist with the listing of Wisconsin’s cave hibernating bat species as “threatened” due to white-nose syndrome. In retirement, Susan served in a position with the United States Geological Service at the Wildlife Health Center in Madison.

Mark began his career as a Wildlife Research Technician with the Department of Natural Resources in 1971 and stayed with the agency for 40 years. Like Susan, Mark eventually became a Conservation Biologist with the Bureau of Endangered Resources, working with the State Natural Areas Program. For 29 years, Mark coordinated land acquisition efforts, securing grant funding to purchase property and working with landowners who wanted to conserve their land. His persistence resulted in the preservation of thousands of acres of habitat. In retirement, Mark serves on The Ridges Sanctuary Board of Directors and on the Door County Land Trust Board of Directors. He has assisted both organizations with land protection efforts.

While their individual accomplishments are remarkable, together, Susan and Mark are a conservation power couple. With Madison Audubon they’ve worked to preserve 2,700 acres across south-central Wisconsin, writing grants and coordinating with major donors to raise millions of dollars.

For 42 years, they have been resident managers at Madison Audubon’s Goose Pond Sanctuary. While there, they took the lead in expanding the preserve from 100 to 730 acres. The couple also helped dozens of young interns launch their conservation careers.

Mark and Susan have also coordinated volunteers in citizen-science projects like the Breeding Bird Atlas, Christmas Bird Counts, monarch tagging, dragonfly and damselfly surveys, and nest-box monitoring. They have inspired countless people to become supporters of the Madison Audubon Society and conservation efforts across Wisconsin.

Mark and Susan also enjoy restoring wetland, savanna, and prairie on their own land in Columbia and Dane counties. Together, they have created a conservation legacy that future generations of Wisconsinites will cherish forever.