Educational Presentations

Presentations and educational seminars offered by Randy Powers, a leading expert on Wisconsin's native plant and wildlife. Contact us for more information or to book a presentation.

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The Right Start

This has been written with the beginner in mind; for someone who is unfamiliar with native landscaping, yet interested in starting their first native planting. There are nine essential concepts a person must understand to have a successful planting. With this information, you'll be able to protect our native plant heritage, enhance wildlife habitat, and provide an ecologically sound landscape for future generations!

The Art & Science of Wildflower Landscaping

Our version of how to make a wildflower garden or meadow, covering the nine essential concepts of native gardening one must understand to be successful. Learn about the general maintenance plan for your garden of wildflowers. Includes references, books, photos, and resources.

Wildflower Plantings & Native Gardens: What Works & What Doesn’t

What does work: Interpreting the habitat, pre-treatment of the seeds, site preparation, and maintenance. What doesn't work: Mowing, herbicide drift spray, blatant over spraying of chemicals, time release fertilizers, and animal grazing.

The Ultimate Hummingbird Garden

Learn which wildflowers in Wisconsin co-evolved with the Ruby-throated and other hummingbirds, by accommodating feeding behavior. You will find it difficult to believe who some of the hummingbirds' most unusual predators are, and migratory challenges that these small birds face. Learn how to develop your yard so that visiting hummingbirds will nest here while raising their young.

The Ultimate Butterfly Garden

Photos of the sixty-five most common butterflies found in the upper Midwest, their native host plants, and nectar plants that they use. How native wildflowers and plants can be used in a garden setting, not just for adult butterflies nectaring in your backyards for only fleeting moments, but also incorporating host plants for mating adults to carry out their life cycle. A compendium of our most common butterflies visiting our gardens, here in the upper Midwest!

Wildflowers That Attract Birds

There are three types of birds; nectaring, seeding-eating, and insect-eating birds. The Ruby-Throated Hummingbird is the only nectaring birds in Wisconsin. Seed-eating birds get their seeds from fruits/nuts in the earlier seasons and late summer/early fall when the plants are ready to drop seeds. The seed-eating birds that don't migrate for the winter dig through the snow to find seeds. The wildflower seeds that birds eat include; Coreopsis, Silphium, Sunflower, Goldenrod, Aster, and Coneflower species.

Day Moths of the Upper Midwest:

Moths are usually overlooked, misunderstood, and undervalued. In Wisconsin there are approximately 3,500 known species. Moths are essential to both our animal kingdom as a food source and our plant kingdom as pollinators. Our day moth presentation focuses on 70 of the most common species in the upper Midwest, their identifiers, habitats, plant uses and predators.

Native Wildflowers for Clay Loam Soils

We explore over 120 different species of natives adapted to heavy mineral soils.These soils are found in many parts of Wisconsin, including Milwaukee and southeastern counties. What can I plant that will grow well in heavy loam, mineral soils, and attract wildlife to my yard? Photos of eighty common native wildflowers that have the ability to penetrate the clay, break it up, and acquire the nutrients they need from the heavy soil.

Invasive Weed Control

Helpful techniques and management plans for handling different weed problems including; annuals, biennials, perennials, woody plants, and animal herbivory.Control invasive weeds, but not necessary to eliminate them. You will learn how to use and interpret the "Weed Index Coefficient of Risk"; a mathematical means to determine the need to take immediate action for one weed problem over another.

From Weeds to Invasive Species, to NR-40

The Wisconsin invasive species and regulations were established in the state legislature in 2009 and then were updated with added species in 2015. It changed the status of many exotic, introduced, and invasive species. This presentation discusses these changes; defining invasive, prohibited, and restricted species, and what guidelines the public must now follow.

Native Plant Propagation Techniques

For the gardener who wants to collect, clean, and propagate their own native wildflowers and grasses from seed. Plant propagation has many complexities to successfully grow native plants. Learn the right time of the season to collect and harvest your own wildflower seeds. Explore the processing techniques for purifying, drying, and storing seed properly.

Milwaukee’s & S.E. Wisconsin’s Prairie History and Plant Heritage

A look at the historical past and the geological, climate, and ethnic influences that developed and altered the natural ecosystems found in our area. Native Americans kept open areas for their camps and once they were burned, the open prairie land would be suitable for wildflowers.

Ethnobotany of Wisconsin Native Americans

Literature and publications have provided us information on how and when Native Americans used some of the prairie plants around them. It can only be presumed that some of these prairie herbs were also used in the Milwaukee area, part of our Midwestern prairie to forest transition. Focusing on the uses of prairie plants in Wisconsin by the Menomonee, Ojibwa, Winnebago, Ottawa, Sauk, and other Native American cultures, from historical records and how they lived in balance with nature.

Edible & Poisonous Wild Plants of Wisconsin

Ethnobotany of many native and introduced species of plants was used by pioneers and aboriginal Americans for food, beverage, confection, medicine, dyes, and textiles. Milwaukee’s natives carried out agricultural practices propagating vegetables and herbs. The most commonly grown crops included corn, squash, beans, sunflower and ground cherry.

Plants, Pollinators & People: Making the Connection!

"We humans have disrupted natural habitats in so many ways and in so many places that the future of our nation’s biodiversity is dim unless we start to share the places in which we live" – Douglas W. Tallamy.Discussion & interpretation of Tallamy’s book on nature's food pyramids, protecting the foundation, and making home and property owners good land stewards by practicing wildlife sustainability. It's not too late!

Cedar Lake Conservation Foundation

Photo history of the foundation doing a ten acre prairie planting, managing it, and creating a natural area show piece for the public from 1998-2011. The garden became to look like a show piece in its fifth season with maintenance. The diverse planting, more than seventy species, has attracted a variety of wildlife.

CLIFF HANGERS: Plants That Live on the Edge!

Throughtout Wisconsin, numerous rock formations protrude out of the ground reaching for the sky. We take a closer look at those plants; which species grow in those habitats and how they survive on the edge of cliffs and within the cracks.

Aquatic & Wetland Vegetation of the Horicon Marsh

The largest freshwater cattail marsh in the United States. Photos of wetland plants accompanied by a discussion of some of the wildlife that use or depend on these native plant species. High diversity in vegetation provides good habitat for a diverse group of wetland animal species. We listed the native species located on the marsh and their habitat, food source, etc.

Native Grasses as Ornamentals for the Landscape

People rarely consider grasses, yet, some of the most economically important species are grasses. Landscapers, gardeners, and restorationists are discovering how exciting growing grasses can be. They add texture and color to landscaped gardens, provide erosion control and stability to prairie restoration projects, and attract wildlife to yards. They also provide calming sounds when their rustling in the wind. Grasses add interest to any planting they’re added to!