Wetland Coffee Break

To help bring more hope and positivity into the world during the COVID-19 pandemic (and keep talking about wetlands, too!), Wisconsin Wetlands Association is offering special virtual wetland programming to our members, supporters, and the community at large. One of these offerings is Wetland Coffee Breaks to help keep our community of wetland lovers connected and learning about wetlands during this time of social distancing. Our Wetland Coffee Break series features brief presentations about wetlands, the plants and animals that call them home, and the many natural benefits they provide to our communities.

Wetland Coffee Breaks are offered as live presentations via secure Zoom meetings. See below for a list of upcoming presentations and to register. Once you register, you’ll receive an automatic email including the URL link and password you’ll need to access the meeting.

Wetland Coffee Breaks are also recorded and posted to this page so you can watch any that you missed live. Generally, we’ll post a Coffee Break recording within a week of the live session.

We are grateful to all of the presenters for sharing their knowledge and expertise and to everyone interested in learning more about wetlands!

If you are interested in giving a Wetland Coffee Break presentation, or if you have a wetland topic you’d like to see covered, please contact Katie at Katie.Beilfuss@wisconsinwetlands.org.

Other wetland video series: 

Register for a Wetland Coffee Break

The hydrology of upper watershed wetlands: A tour of the Penokee Hills

Tracy Hames, Wisconsin Wetlands Association
Friday, July 10, 2020
10:30 am


Upper watershed wetlands are critical to regulating water throughout watersheds, yet they are among the most under-recognized wetlands in Wisconsin–and sometimes some of the most altered. Join WWA’s Executive Director Tracy Hames for a virtual tour of some intact headwater wetlands in the Penokee Hills in northern Wisconsin, an area that was once the site of a proposed iron mine. Tracy will discuss the important functions of upper watershed wetlands for the health of watersheds and communities and share this beautiful and vital place with you.

Tracy Hames has been the Executive Director of the Wisconsin Wetlands Association since 2011. From 1989 to 2011, he was employed as a Waterfowl Biologist with the Yakama Nation Wildlife Resource Management Program and was the lead biologist in the Yakama Nation’s Wetlands and Riparian Restoration Project in Washington state. He has a bachelor’s degree in biology and environmental studies from Macalester College and a master’s degree in natural resources from UW–Stevens Point.

Wisconsin frogs: Where are they and what are they doing mid-summer?

Rori Paloski, Wisconsin DNR
Friday, July 17, 2020
10:30 am


Many of Wisconsin’s frog species call and breed in spring and early summer.  So what are frogs doing mid-summer after many have completed breeding for the year?  And are any species still breeding? This webinar will discuss the mid-summer habits and habitats of Wisconsin frogs, as well as how to identify them if you see or hear one.

Rori Paloski is a Conservation Biologist with the Wisconsin DNR’s Bureau of Natural Heritage Conservation and specializes in amphibians and reptiles, particularly endangered/threatened species. Current work includes surveying/monitoring for cricket frogs, eastern massasauga rattlesnakes, and ornate box turtles; coordinating citizen-based monitoring projects; and conducting biotic inventory herp surveys on state properties.

Wetland hydrology 101: A practitioner’s perspective on the good, the bad, and the ugly

Steve Gaffield, MARS-EOR, Inc.
Friday, July 31, 2020
10:30 am


Have you seen the Wisconsin Wetlands Association’s “explainer” video, How Wetlands Manage Water? Want to learn more? This presentation will add to your knowledge of wetland hydrology using real-world examples to demonstrate how wetlands are tied to water resources problems—and solutions. Steve will discuss the functions wetlands provide in different parts of the landscape, how to assess wetland hydrologic health, and the role of groundwater. He’ll also touch on the impacts of human alterations on wetlands and our communities and how wetlands fit into a watershed approach to solutions.

Steve Gaffield grew up playing in Michigan’s ponds and wetlands, inspiring a love of the outdoors and curiosity about water. Steve is a graduate of the UW-Madison geoscience and geological engineering programs. He has worked to solve water management problems in Wisconsin for 28 years as a researcher and engineering consultant.

From wetlands with love: Wisconsin’s Great Lakes coastal wetlands as important fish habitat

Titus Seilheimer, Wisconsin Sea Grant

Watch it here!

Wetlands along Wisconsin’s Great Lakes coast are unique habitats at the transition between watersheds and the larger lake. Join Wisconsin Sea Grant fisheries specialist Titus Seilheimer to learn about Wisconsin’s coastal wetlands—diverse wetland ecosystems that provide many functions, including shoreline protection and nutrient and sediment filtration. These wetlands also provide important spawning and nursery habitat for many fish species: Great Lakes coastal wetlands play an important part in the life history of more than 70% of Great Lakes fish species. Physical habitat in coastal wetlands is greatly influenced by changing water levels, from short term changes that are driven by wind to the longer term trends in water level caused by regional climate patterns. The combination of natural variation and human-caused disturbances have dynamic and complex influences on the fish habitat of Great Lakes coastal wetlands.

Titus Seilheimer is a fisheries specialist with Wisconsin Sea Grant. He has worked on all five Great Lakes during his 18 years’ experience working in coastal wetlands. He is based in Manitowoc and enjoys spending time surveying the fish species in the Little Manitowoc River marsh.

Tracking amphibians with HerpMapper

Gary Casper, Great Lakes Ecological Services

Watch it here!

HerpMapper is a free app for smartphones that can track amphibians and reptiles, organisms that are often indicators of wetland quality. Gary will tell us about how HerpMapper will let you easily take photos or make audio recordings of herpetiles to be reviewed by experts. These data reside in a cloud database that you and global researchers can access. Location data are viewable only to the county level for the general public in order to protect rare species. This presentation will introduce HerpMapper and how to use it.

Gary Casper is an associate scientist at the UW-Milwaukee Field Station, an adjunct of the graduate faculty at UW-Green Bay, and an associate editor for the Natural Areas Journal and Herpetological Conservation and Biology. He researches wildlife conservation and conducts inventory and monitoring throughout the Great Lakes Region.

Swamp, bog, or fen? An introduction to wetland types of Wisconsin

Ryan O’Connor, Wisconsin DNR

Watch it here!

Wetland conservation, management, and research in Wisconsin are predicated on an understanding of the different types of wetlands that occur in the state. While many experienced practitioners have a strong working knowledge of wetland communities, others who are newer to the field may be less familiar with them. Join WDNR ecologist Ryan O’Connor for a brief introduction to the wetland natural communities of Wisconsin, including key ecological and vegetative characteristics of each community, information about each community’s distribution in the state, tips for how to know what type of wetland you are in, and suggestions of helpful resources for deeper learning. Ryan will also discuss some of the different classification systems used by professionals in our region.

Ryan O’Connor is an ecologist with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. He coordinates and conducts surveys of natural communities for WDNR’s Natural Heritage Conservation program. His professional interests include providing land managers with high-quality data to make better decisions, developing adaptation resources, and hunting for rare and invasive plants.

Treasures of the Secret Fen

Emily Stone, Cable Natural History Museum

Watch it here!

Cross the moat to discover carnivorous plants, devious orchids, shimmering dragonflies, buried treasure, ripening jewels, and a floating floor. It sounds like fantasy, but it’s all science! Cable Natural History Museum Naturalist Emily Stone will give a guided tour of the botany, chemistry, ecology, and mysterious depths of a special local wetland in her community.

Emily M. Stone is a naturalist by birth, training, profession, and passion. Her childhood spent as a “mud and water daughter” in northeast Iowa led to a degree in outdoor education from Northland College and a Field Naturalist Masters from the University of Vermont. As the Naturalist/Education Director at the Cable Natural History Museum in Cable, Wisconsin, Emily writes a weekly “Natural Connections” column published in more than a dozen local and regional newspapers, including the Duluth Reader. She has earned multiple Excellence in Craft awards from the Outdoor Writers Association of America.

More than ducks & geese: Birding Wisconsin’s wetlands

Kari Hagenow, The Nature Conservancy

Watch it here!

During the month of May, millions of birds will move over and through Wisconsin’s landscapes as they travel northward to their summer breeding grounds. Nearly 40 percent of these species will use wetlands for critically important resources during their journey, with many of those birds settling in to live and breed in our Wisconsin wetlands. Are you ready to start exploring? This coffee break will give an overview of why wetlands are so important for migratory and resident birds, the types of birds and common species that you can find in them, and the resources that can help you start birding your local wetland.

Kari Hagenow is the Land Steward for The Nature Conservancy’s Door Peninsula Project. While getting her master’s degree in Environmental Science from UW-Green Bay she was introduced to the world of birding and hasn’t looked back. When she’s not out chasing the latest spring migrants, she’s spending time at her home in De Pere, Wisconsin, with her husband, Tyler, and their Labrador-Boxer mix, Brewer, as they work to restore their own woodland.

Using wetlands as solutions to reduce flood damage risks in the Lake Superior Basin

Kyle Magyera, Wisconsin Wetlands Association

Watch it here!

To help communities find cost-effective solutions to their flooding and infrastructure problems, the Wisconsin Wetlands Association (WWA) is aiming to promote and demonstrate the concept of Natural Flood Management (NFM) in the Lake Superior Basin. NFM is a watershed-based approach for implementing ‘slow the flow’ practices that incorporate natural river and landscape processes to store water and limit the erosive energy of runoff. In this presentation, Kyle will highlight the work of the interdisciplinary partnership WWA has convened to study the impacts of erosion-induced wetland drainage. He’ll also describe how the partnership is identifying opportunities to reconnect floodplains and restore hydrology in headwater wetlands and streams to build climate-resilient natural infrastructure.

Kyle Magyera coordinates WWA’s Local Government Outreach Program and provides technical assistance to professional staff, local officials, citizens, and other groups with an interest in or questions and concerns regarding wetland protection, restoration, and management. He has a double Master’s in Urban and Regional Planning and Water Resources Management from UW-Madison and more than ten years of experience working on wetland conservation and water policy issues with WWA and the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.

Spring Beauties: Ephemeral Ponds

Mandy Little, UW-Stout

Watch it here!

Ephemeral ponds are the spring beauties of many wetland landscapes. Join Mandy Little for an exploration of ephemeral pond ecology and some of the wonderful critters found in these wetlands.

Mandy Little is a wetland plant ecologist working at UW-Stout with research specialties in peatlands, ephemeral ponds, and beaver wetlands.

Managing water levels for wetland health on the Upper Mississippi River

Gretchen Benjamin, The Nature Conservancy

Watch it here!

The locks and dams on the Upper Mississippi River (UMR) created stable high water conditions. Over time, this continual inundation drowned out the aquatic plant communities and caused stress to the river’s floodplain forests. Natural resource organizations and agencies are working with the US Army Corps of Engineers to change how they operate these dams to regain some of the seasonal variability in water levels to reinvigorate these vegetation communities within the UMR. Join Gretchen Benjamin of The Nature Conservancy to hear about this important work, how it has evolved over 25+ years, and how it is improving the health of the UMR.

Gretchen Benjamin is the Large River Specialist for the Midwest Division of The Nature Conservancy and a member of the Board of the Wisconsin Wetlands Association. Her work focuses on restoring and protecting ecological conditions in the Mississippi River and other national rivers. Before joining the Conservancy in 2008, Gretchen spent nearly 25 years serving in different capacities on the Mississippi River for the Wisconsin DNR. Gretchen lives near the banks of the Mississippi River in La Crosse, Wisconsin.

Sandhill 101: The ecology and behaviors of Sandhill Cranes

Anne Lacy, International Crane Foundation

Watch it here!

Join Anne Lacy, crane research coordinator at the International Crane Foundation, for an overview of the cranes in your neighborhood—or even right in your backyard! Anne will share information about sandhill crane ecology and unveil what’s behind this favorite wetland bird’s weird and wonderful behaviors.

Anne Lacy accepted an internship at the International Crane Foundation (ICF) in 2000 while finishing her thesis at the University of Minnesota-Duluth. After completion of master’s degree, Anne accepted a full-time position at ICF as a research associate, working on an ongoing long-term study of sandhill cranes. Since 2009, she has also been involved in whooping crane reintroduction to study the ecology of the newly reintroduced whooping cranes in Wisconsin.

Wetland soils 101: Way more than just mud on your boots

Drew Fowler, Wisconsin DNR