Thomas Meyer: 2023 Harold “Bud” Jordahl Lifetime Achievement Award

An older white male with short gray hair and a yellow shirt looking to the left.

Gathering Waters presented Thomas Meyer with the 2023 Harold “Bud” Jordahl Lifetime Achievement Award on June 16, 2023 during a private celebration at his farm in Mount Horeb.

Thomas retired on March 1, 2023 after almost 38 years working for the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources in the DNR’s Bureau of Natural Heritage Conservation. Since 1993, his sole focus was the State Natural Areas program and he served as the longest tenured SNA staff member to date.

Thomas has been a familiar face to many in the land trust community. He acted as an ambassador for land conservation and a liaison between DNR and the many program partners who own and manage State Natural Areas. Thomas is a deeply respected partner in conservation and has been a leader in Wisconsin’s conservation community for decades.

While at DNR, Thomas also helped funnel federal and state funding toward conservation. He advised grant managers for the Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program, the best source of state funding for land protection that we have. And he contributed to one of the most secure legal instruments in Wisconsin’s land conservation toolkit, known as Natural Area Articles of Dedication. 

“Thomas has had an enormously positive influence in the conservation community and has inspired others to appreciate nature and experience the beauty and wonder of Wisconsin,” said Mike Carlson, executive director of Gathering Waters. “Entering a well-deserved retirement, I cannot think of a better way to express our gratitude to Thomas than with this lifetime achievement award.”

Thomas is perhaps best known for promoting the wonder and importance of natural areas to Wisconsinites through his photography, writing, and collaboration with PBS-Wisconsin on television documentaries, and as a guide for 70 field trips offered by the Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin.

“Whether through field trips or appearances on video or television, Thomas has inspired exploration, appreciation, and ultimately the protection of Wisconsin’s most unique and important natural areas,” said David Clutter, executive director of the Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin. “And this still only scratches the surface of his accomplishments over the course of his tenure with the Wisconsin DNR.”

Congratulations, Thomas! We wish you all the best in retirement, and thank you for your contributions to land conservation in Wisconsin.

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 Harold “Bud” Jordahl Lifetime Achievement Award

This award recognizes a committed conservation professional or volunteer who has devoted their time, talents, and energy in support of land conservation over their lifetime, as demonstrated through extraordinary projects or other accomplishments that have permanently safeguarded Wisconsin’s natural treasures.