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On Tuesday, Aug. 28, the UW-Parkside community gathered at the Alumni Garden for the rededication of the Dr. Anna Maria Williams Nature Trail to commemorate her work, life, and legacy of invaluable contributions to the campus and university. The trail provides a home to myriad species of trees including over 100 marked trees, 67 species native to Wisconsin and more than half of the 50 State trees in the United States.
UW-Parkside Chancellor Debbie Ford noted that this addition to the campus embodies the spirit of Dr. Williams and enables current and future generation of students to benefit from her life passion. “It is really about us honoring Dr. Williams’ legacy," Ford said. "This was her pride and joy. This trail is a way for us to honor the legacy of how our campus was founded and to make sure that our entire campus is part of our learning laboratory.”
She went on to highlight the importance of community involvement and the university’s ongoing commitment to being a productive and valuable piece of the community. “It’s not just a learning laboratory for our students. The original founders of UW-Parkside wanted to make sure that the campus was in the community and that the community was part of the campus,” Ford said.
Dr. David Rogers, associate professor of biological science at UW-Parkside, said that he appreciates and recognizes the principals that the Anna Maria Williams Nature trail symbolizes. “The reason why I’m really attracted to this project is that it gets at this bedrock principal of the UW System, that it’s not just about what happens in the classroom but how we interact with the surrounding community,” Rogers said.
Dr. Susan Cable, an alumna of the UW-Parkside College of Natural Health Sciences (CNHS) and local dentist, made a generous donation to the Outdoor Lab Fund in fall 2016. Her vision was to support the rehabilitation and improvement of the Anna Maria Williams Nature Trail. The trail’s original purpose was to preserve examples of all the tree species native to Wisconsin.
During the rededication ceremony, Dr. Cable spoke about her reasons for supporting the project. “It is an honor to help rededicate the Anna Maria Williams Nature Trail today. Professor Williams helped many students fulfill their career dreams and I was one of them,” Dr. Cable said.
Trees that are part of the Anna Maria Williams Nature Trail are labeled with their scientific name and have played a vital role in the ecological education of generations of UW Parkside students.
Through Dr. Cable's generous gift, three Independent study students were able to work on revitalizing the trail. Joshua Carlson, Anna Larsen and Belynda Alberte created a physical inventory of all trees that the Anna Maria Williams Nature trail has helped to preserve since its inception.
The hard work of the students paid off as the data gathered was employed in the development of a website for the trail that features an interactive map to individual trees, detailed ecological and cultural information about each species and about the five geological features of the original trail.
The students used their experience and knowledge to create a vision of future improvement for the Anna Maria Williams Nature trail. These projects include a new trailhead marker, more trees and routes, added information about the major habitats on campus, and more information on UW-Parkside’s outlying properties including Chiwaukee Prairie, Renak Polak Woods, the Harris Tract and Ranger Mac's Fen.
For more information or to view the trail map visit https://www.uwp.edu/learn/departments/biologicalsciences/amwtrailmap.cfm.