Wetland Coffee Break

The Wetland Coffee Break series helps keep our community of wetland lovers connected and learning about wetlands throughout the year, from anywhere! Bring your coffee and learn about wetlands, the plants and animals that call them home, and the many natural benefits they provide to our communities. Sessions are held on Zoom and feature time for audience Q&A.

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. We record and post each presentation so you can watch any that you missed live. You’ll find links to these recordings below, and you can also find them on our Facebook page.

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.Beilfuss@wisconsinwetlands.org.

Register for a Wetland Coffee Break

Dilution is NOT the solution to pollution: How amphibians, parasites, and you can help us understand the complex effects of pollutants on wildlife

Jessica Hua, UW-Madison Department of Forest and Wildlife Ecology
Friday, April 19, 2024
10:30 am CT


Tune in to this Wetland Coffee Break to learn about research being done in Dr. Jessica Hua’s lab at UW-Madison on unexpected negative (and positive) ways that “low” levels of pollutants (road salt, antibiotics, and pesticides) can affect amphibians and other wildlife. Dr. Hua will also describe how art and children’s books can be used to engage community members in citizen science that aims to protect amphibians, currently regarded as the most threatened vertebrate on Earth.

Dr. Jessica Hua is an associate professor in the Department of Forest and Wildlife Ecology at UW-Madison. She received her bachelor’s degree in biology and kinesiology at Southwestern University in 2008 and her PhD at the University of Pittsburgh in ecology and evolution in 2014. In 2014, she moved to Purdue University to study disease ecology as a postdoctoral fellow. In 2015, she moved to SUNY Binghamton where she was an assistant and associate professor and where she served as the Director for the Center for Watershed Studies until she moved to UW-Madison in 2022.

Helping farmers, saving cranes

Ryan Michalesko, International Crane Foundation
Friday, April 26, 2024
10:30 am CT


The story of the Sandhill Crane (Grus canadensis) is one of true conservation success. Only recently, the species—one of the oldest on the planet—was nearly extirpated (regionally extinct) in the Midwest. Sandhill Cranes are thriving due to a mix of factors, including better wetland protection and management, as well Sandhill Cranes’ shift to agricultural crops after losing their natural grassland habitat. Modern row crop farming practices have created an easy way for cranes to locate food in the form of germinating corn seed during the breeding season, causing significant damage to corn crops. Ryan Michalesko will discuss how the International Crane Foundation is expanding its efforts to find real solutions to support farmers while also protecting cranes and the landscape.

Ryan Michalesko works as the Landowner Engagement Specialist on the North America Program team at the International Crane Foundation. Through the involvement of farmers and other key parties, Ryan is working to innovate solutions to crop depredation by Sandhill Cranes. He earned his bachelor’s degree in Natural Resources Planning and master’s degree in Natural Resources Policy from UW-Stevens Point.

Wild rice with fish: A winning recipe for restoration

Titus Sielheimer, Wisconsin Sea Grant
Friday, May 3, 2024
10:30 am CT

Green Bay, Lake Michigan, was once home to seemingly endless beds of manoomin (wild rice, Zizania palustris). This “good berry” provided sustenance for people for thousands of years. Established rice beds represent a valuable aquatic habitat for grazing waterfowl as well as spawning and nursery habitat for fish. However, colonial settlement, followed by industrialization and development in the last 150 years, resulted in the decline of wild rice in Green Bay’s coastal wetlands. Since 2016, conservation partners have worked to restore wild rice on the Green Bay west shore. Wetland monitoring indicates success varies, generally following an environmental gradient from the mouth of the Fox River in the south to the Menominee River on the border with Michigan. We surveyed fish assemblages using both active and passive gears in two restoration sites that did not have wild rice present and two sites with wild rice growing in the summer of 2023. Join Titus Seilheimer for to learn the outcomes of these surveys, which indicate that Green Bay wetlands serve as important fish habitat and that successful wild rice restoration may be an indicator of diverse, healthy wetland ecosystems that provide valuable benefits to fish, wildlife, and people.

Titus Seilheimer is the fisheries specialist for Wisconsin Sea Grant and has studied all five Great Lakes coastal wetlands for more than two decades in the US and Canada.

Floristic quality benchmarks for rare and unique wetland plant communities

Ryan O’Connor, Wisconsin DNR Natural Heritage Conservation
Friday, May 10, 2024
10:30 am CT

Floristic quality benchmarks provide quantitative measures of wetland condition, helping to inform wetland permitting decisions as well as prioritizing conservation and management of high quality sites such as State Natural Areas. A WDNR team embarked on a project to develop benchmarks for “rare and unique” wetland communities, such as white pine-red maple swamps and interdunal wetlands, to complement benchmarks already completed for more common types wetlands. The team also refined our knowledge of how to identify these less common wetland communities as well as re-evaluated how rare they are in Wisconsin. Ecologist Ryan O’Connor will share what makes these communities unique, how the team developed benchmarks, and what threats these communities are facing.

Ryan O’Connor has worked as an ecologist in the Great Lakes region for more than 20 years. He conducts biotic inventories of natural communities for the Wisconsin DNR’s Natural Heritage Conservation program. His professional interests include providing land managers with high-quality data to make better decisions, developing easy-to-use ecological monitoring techniques, and promoting sound land management.

What’s the buzz? Drone uses in wetlands

Samantha Loutzenhiser, KCI Technologies
Friday, May 31, 2024
10:30 am CT

Drones and wetlands. Like apple pie and cheddar cheese, they are great on their own, but even better together. Drones can do a lot more than take pretty pictures. We can now utilize drones for high-resolution imagery, artificial intelligence, spraying invasive species, or seeding native species. Samantha Loutzenhiser of KCI Technologies will introduce some of the uses of various types of drones, their use cases, and laws and regulations.

Samantha Loutzenhiser has 11 years of experience in ecological restoration, wetlands, and invasive species. She is a Part 107 Remote Pilot and, for the last six years, has been using drones to benefit restoration sites. Samantha is also certified by the FAA as a Chief Supervisor in UAS agricultural systems operations, allowing her to apply herbicides with a drone under a Part 137 exemption.

Let’s talk turtles!

Rebecca Christoffel, Turtles for Tomorrow
Friday, June 7, 2024
10:30 am CT

Ever wonder what kind of turtle you just found crossing the road, or how to tell one kind of turtle from another, or where to look to find them? If so, this is the Wetland Coffee Break for you! We’ll discuss the 11 kinds of turtles that are found in Wisconsin as well as their ranges and preferred habitat(s).

Rebecca Christoffel is the Co-Director of Turtles for Tomorrow (https://turtlesfortomorrow.org) and owner of Christoffel Conservation. She has had a lifelong love of unhuggable wildlife, those animals that are less well-known and less appreciated by people. Prior to her return to Wisconsin, she was a faculty member and state wildlife Extension biologist at Iowa State University.

Watch previous presentations

Click “Older Entries” below to see more past presentations, or view our Google Sheet index of past presentations here.

Wetland Coffee Break: Transformational Thinking in Conservation and “Outdoors Access 4 All!”

Wetland Coffee Break: Transformational Thinking in Conservation and “Outdoors Access 4 All!”

Access Ability Wisconsin works to make nature accessible to everyone by providing opportunities for individuals with mobility challenges (whether acquired at birth or later in life) to access nature and outdoor recreational experiences with minimal environmental impact while promoting access, inclusion, equity, and healthy living.