Welcome to the Gottfried Prairie and Arboretum

At one time, most of Fond du Lac County was covered by prairie -- native grasslands that were home to bison, prairie chickens, bobolinks and other wildlife. At the Gottfried Prairie and Arboretum on the UW-Fond du Lac campus, a group of volunteers has reestablished the native plants that once grew on this site.

The project began in 1991, with the goal of representing the original plant communities of Wisconsin in a small arboretum. At present, volunteers have planted 42 acres of native prairie grasses and wildflowers, developed two wildlife ponds and planted 176 native trees and shrubs. Most of the wildflower seeds were collected from some of the last remaining original prairie sites in Fond du Lac County. To educate local residents there's an interpretive trail as well as six benches, two picnic tables, and a kiosk for recreation.

The Formal Arboretum is an innovative attempt to depict the native plants and plant communities of Wisconsin in a design representing the "Tension Zone" of our state. This is the area of overlap of northern and southern Wisconsin plant communities, which occurs in the Fond du Lac area. It consists of savannah, lowland forests and northern mixed forests, plus their associated wildflowers.

The Gottfried Prairie and Arboretum is named for Bradley Gottfried, former dean of UW-Fond du Lac, and a major force behind the project's initiation and development. Dean Gottfried's vision and persistence have resulted in the restoration of a portion of native prairie for county residents to enjoy.

Educational Programs

Create a Winter Wreath and Swag's Photo

Create a Winter Wreath and Swag

Jackie Scharfenburg
Thursday, November 14, at 1:00-3:30 p.m. and 6:00-8:30 p.m.
Zillmer Trail Shelter (located off County Road SS between County Road G and Hwy 67 near New Prospect).


Using a variety of natural materials, we will create a beautiful wreath and swag that will enhance your home's winter decor. To register for a session, call (920) 940-8869 by November 12. Space is limited. This program is best for people over 12 years old. Cost: $20/person; fee payable to the Gottfried Arboretum.

Jackie Scharfenberg is a Forest Naturalist/Natural Resources Educator with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources the Kettle Moraine State Forest - Northern Unit.  She enjoys teaching all aspects of environmental education.  Her goal is to get people connected or re-connected with the natural world if it be through creating a nature craft, learning something about nature, trying a new outdoor skill or experiencing nature first hand.