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Newest UW-Stevens Point field lab is named for long-time forestry professor

September 22, 2022
Family, administrators by the Engelhard land donation sign
Land donated to UW-Stevens Point in honor of a late forestry professor was dedicated Sept. 21 as the Bob Engelhard Restoration Ecology Field Lab. Marking the occasion are (from left) family members Dan Engelhard, Diane Loeser and Karen Engelhard plus Chancellor Thomas Gibson and Brian Sloss, dean of the College of Natural Resources.

The donation of 11 acres to the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point will provide an outdoor laboratory for College of Natural Resources students to learn ecological restoration skills.

The new field lab is named in honor of the late Robert J. Engelhard, a beloved forestry professor who taught at UW-Stevens Point for 25 years. The Bob Engelhard Restoration Ecology Field Laboratory was dedicated Wednesday, Sept. 21, the one-year anniversary of his death.

The property, located at 3332 Whiting Ave., Stevens Point, was donated by John and Patty Noel and John Seramur, whom Chancellor Thomas Gibson described as among “our most generous and forward-thinking donors.

“These long-time community leaders donated the property that makes this field lab possible. They did this, not because we asked them, but because they knew Bob Engelhard. They wanted to create an appropriate and lasting recognition for a man who contributed in so many ways to the creation of the College of Natural Resources and the growth of UW- Stevens Point,” Gibson said.

The Noels and Seramur were on hand for the dedication, as were Engelhard’s widow, Karen, retired director of UW-Stevens Point alumni relations, and children Dan Engelhard and Diane Engelhard Loeser.

Brian Sloss, dean of the College of Natural Resources, thanked them for the land donation and for honoring the legacy of Engelhard, whose dedication to CNR, the university and community was also celebrated.

Engelhard joined the then-Conservation Department in 1965 and helped efforts to develop a forestry major. He spearheaded program recognition by federal and state agencies and professional accreditation, which continues in all four forestry degree options. He helped develop CNR’s European summer field experience, which introduces students to the professional and cultural aspects of natural resource management and conservation in European countries.

Engelhard received the university-wide excellence in teaching award three times and was inducted into the Wisconsin Forestry Hall of Fame. He remained active with the college after retiring in 1991.

“This celebration and dedication of the Robert Engelhard Restoration Ecology Field Lab indeed helps UW-Stevens Point and the CNR continue to innovate and drive student experiences and professional readiness,” Sloss said.

The new field lab will be used to help train the next generation of foresters and ecological restoration specialists, he noted. “It will give us a living laboratory for the students to work and experience real-world challenges that they will undoubtedly encounter as professionals.” 

Students majoring in forestry with an ecosystem restoration and management option will use this site for an array of training activities.

The property has three distinct habitats: An upland open area, a wetland area and a wooded upland. This mix will give students opportunities to learn about native plants and how some rare plants function. Students will grow plants, including trees, shrubs, grasses and wildflowers, for restoration activities, and practice ecology restoration techniques. They will be trained in using chainsaws and brush saws and wildland fire suppression.

These career-focused skills are in demand for forestry and ecology restoration majors, said Mike Demchik, forestry professor and CNR land manager. “It’s going to be exciting for our students. This is really a great opportunity.”  

Students will restore the ecologic condition of the property, removing invasive plants and preparing the site. The area will eventually have trails and a boardwalk for birding and nature viewing. It is near the Green Circle Trail’s Paper Mill segment.