First Preserve Director Gary Brown Retires

After a 38-year career with the University of Wisconsin, Preserve Director Gary Brown is retiring. His last day on campus was Friday, June 3, 2022.

In all, Gary has spent 43 years at the UW including his undergrad years (in the Marching Band!), 15 years at UW System traveling our great state, and the last 23 years at UW-Madison leading campus planning & landscape architecture activities. Since 2010 Gary also served as the Director of the Lakeshore Nature Preserve.

Preserve Assistant Director Laura Wyatt will continue to manage the Preserve’s day-to-day operations. If you have any questions on how to work with the Preserve during this transition, please contact Laura at or 608-265-9275.

The Lakeshore Nature Preserve team will temporarily join the UW-Madison Office of Sustainability. Dr. Missy Nergard, Director of the Office of Sustainability will provide oversight of the Preserve in an interim capacity.

We asked Gary to reflect on his tenure and on where the Preserve is headed…

As the Preserve’s inaugural director starting in 2010, and a long-time supporter of this amazing resource, I look back on my tenure with great pride and sense of accomplishment. In the early 1980s I first visited the Preserve as an undergrad in a required Soil Science course reviewing the historic soil pits to understand soil horizons and textures. Later I would visit with Prof. Evelyn Howell to understand the devasting encroachment of invasive species and how to design for ecological restoration. Little did I know then I would become the outspoken leader for these cherished lands.

My how things have changed in 40 years! Today we have a complement of professional staff successfully managing these 300 acres fulltime. We have thousands of volunteers, faculty, staff, students and avid community members helping us preserve this outdoor teaching and research laboratory for generations to come. I’m happy we have a strong Preserve Committee, an on-going transparent process for annual work plan and operating budget development, and strong philanthropic support to supplement state and university funding. We’ve come a long way over these many years and set the stage for the ongoing protection of the Preserve by fully supporting the university’s mission of teaching, research and outreach.

I also am extremely pleased that we are moving well through the update of the Preserve Master Plan based on our previously

completed Strategic Plan and beginning our advance plan for the Preserve Outreach Center, a long-discussed home for the overall Lakeshore Nature Preserve program and staff. I look forward to helping as a volunteer and donor representative on this important project. As I leave my role as director, I leave the Preserve in good hands moving forward, building on our strong foundation and preserving the Preserve.

We wish Gary the very best in retirement!