Woodland Dunes Nature Center and Preserve, Two Rivers, Wisconsin.
Updated: Aug 20
Later this summer I’ll be posting “Birders’ Passion Soars”, the next installment of the Profiles in Passion series here at passionsillustrated.com. The passion that birders have for birding soars greatly. I found birders to be most interesting and, of course, the birds are incredible. Watch for it and gain insight and information about birds and birding, Wisconsin style.
Here and now I want to tell you about a very special and unique place, the Woodland Dunes Nature and Preserve located in Two Rivers, Wisconsin.
Nancy Nabak is both the president of the Bay Area Bird Club (Green Bay, that is) and the Communications and Development Coordinator for Woodland Dunes. Nancy's enthusiasm for nature is infectious. She proudly showed me the newly expanded and remodeled Nature Center. We then walked through the splendor of some of the Preserve's many trails and habitats.
The Grand Opening and Open House were well attended and widely reported by local television media.
Nancy explained that special care was given to the design of the Nature Center and its immediate surroundings. The building's footprint was modest yet it's interior spacious and welcoming. The interior is beautiful in its building materials, simplicity and adornments.
There are multiple displays to educate the general public about the outdoor majesty that surrounds the Nature Center.
You’ll see some of Nancy’s stunning nature photography: an Osprey in flight with a meal in its talons; a Common Yellowthroat Warbler; a Red Saddlebags Dragonfly; and various flora.
Painted along one wall is a mural by artist and science illustrator Becca Jabs that depicts the Preserve’s ridges and swales habitat
The parking area is surfaced with permeable material and includes electric vehicle charging stations. The building is geothermally heated and cooled. Solar panels provide much of its energy.
Prior to arriving in Wisconsin I had been enjoying Woodland Dunes’ colorful (even joyful) quarterly “Dunesletter”. During the pandemic shut-down I watched the Zoomed “Tropical Blast” annual event that was later documented in Volume 184.
Woodland Dunes has a strong educational component. It hosts school programs, guided nature walks, summer camps and adult programs.
Woodland Dunes also organizes "Citizen Science" programs that monitor the well-being of bees, birds, bats and even the area's overall water quality. Staff and volunteers help preserve the 7 miles of trails and 1500 acres of rare habitat. Anyone can join the Trail Saver 20 Club which supports the maintenance of their trail systems (I did!).
Reading about Woodland Dunes does not do justice to the experiencing of it. Anyone who already enjoys being in "nature" will love this unique and fabulous place, and those who only passively enjoy nature might well be enlightened.
I will long remember my pleasant surprise as we walked along a grassy trail. With each step dozens of spotted green and brown frogs, camouflaged along a trail, jumped out of our path. Further along I could hear the frogs' chorus of croaks from within a pond that contributed to Mother Nature's symphony. Pollinating butterflies danced atop the flowering plants. The gentle breezes swayed the treetops and rippled the cattails in the marshes. The Virginia Rails teased with their calls, successfully avoiding showing themselves. I was moved by the beauty of birdsong as Nancy and I passed between the forest and swales. I can go on and on.
Bringing youth into an appreciation of and salvation of nature is an important mission.
Nancy has enjoyed birding with children many times but there is a four year old boy she will always remember. Nancy met Collin and his father while they were visiting Woodland Dunes. “When we were finished chatting he asked his dad if he could say good-by to me ‘like a gentleman does’. Given permission to do so, he gently took my hand into his and kissed the top of it. It was so cuuuute!”
Five years later, at age 9, Collin visited again, sketch pad in hand. He spotted what he believed was a Tree Sparrow. After consulting a bird chart to confirm the species and study its physical features he sketched it. Nancy elaborated: “With a sparkle in his eye and a third-grader’s smile he proudly told me that he’d spotted 64 species that year including a Barred Owl and a Northern Strike, but that he really wanted to find a Tufted Titmouse. We went birding and spotted several species to add to his bird list. He asked if I had a favorite bird. Rather than answer him directly I instead asked if he could guess my favorite bird if I imitated its birdsong. ‘Drink-your-teeeea’ I sang. ‘Eastern Towhee'. He nailed it! That boy tugged at my birding heart. Collin demonstrated that the future of birding and conservation is bright”.
Many thanks to Nancy Nabak and to all those who make Woodland Dunes such an awe-inspiring place. I strongly recommend a visit. Those who do visit typically return for more of its splendor.
Go to their website for information and to see the calendar of events.