Conservation Program


“One who helps build up our landscape is quite sure to become a protector of our landscape.” – Wakelin “Ranger Mac” McNeel

Upham Woods Outdoor Learning Center’s Conservation Program is focused on creating the next generation of land stewards. The land is our largest shared resource. In order to use it sustainably, conservation principles need to be developed and maintained within the generations to come. Conservation is the application of many different sciences such as: ecology, biology, chemistry, and geology all united to use and preserve our finite resources. The land, water, plants, and animals are all part of the community we exist in. Taking care of that natural community has many benefits not only to nature, but to us. In order to provide clean water, arable soil, and breathable air, the natural world around us needs to be treated as the valuable community member it is. To do that, Upham Woods is dedicated to providing hands on projects that invite people, especially youth, to participate in conservation service. All projects focus on improving water quality, restoring oak forests, and preserving our unique northern ecosystem. To see what the conservation program has been up to check out our story map. For upcoming events such as BioBlitz, Conservation Challenge Days, DNR trainings and classes, and more, see our Community Programs page or our calendar.


Conservation Story Map


The Conservation Challenge; 10,000hours

A NCCC team takes part in the Conservation Challenge by building a trail re-route.

Upham Woods has created a Conservation Challenge to give back to the land that is so often taken for granted. We aim to put 10,000 hours of conservation service into our lands. We will accomplish this goal through our many conservation program opportunities for both campers and community members. The goal of the challenge is to restore our land while simultaneously giving people the skills and knowledge of land management. These land management principles can then be easily applied to their own communities. Some of these projects include trail building, invasive species management, oak forest restoration, and biodiversity monitoring.

“Action on behalf of life transforms. Because the relationship between self and the world is reciprocal, it is not a question of first getting enlightened or saved and then acting. As we work to heal the earth, the earth heals us.”  – Robin Wall Kimmerer, Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teaching of Plants


Remote Conservation

Want to participate in Conservation in your own community? Fantastic! Take a look at these videos and handouts below for some ideas on how to get started.

Garlic Mustard Pull: video and handout

Nature Detective: Crown Vetch Pull video and Nature Detective: Crown Vetch Handout

Nature Detective: Bird’s Foot Trefoil video and Nature Detective: Bird’s Foot Trefoil Handout

Backyard BioBlitz: Upham Woods Backyard BioBlitz

Trash Clean-Up: video and Trash Clean-up Handout

Wacky Water Critters: Water Quality video and Wacky Water Critters Handout

Quests: Find the quests here. Watch the tutorial to see how you can complete each quest.

Statewide Snapshot Day: Registration

10k Conservation Challenge Survey


Land Management at Upham Woods

Deer monitoring

In 2019, Upham Woods’ staff began a new effort to monitor the relative abundance of deer on Blackhawk Island. While the broad ecological, human health, and herd health effects of high deer density are well documented, little is known about the island’s herd specifically. Tracking changes in the size and characteristics of our deer population over time will help inform land management decisions and add to the richness of our on-site educational programs. Upham Woods is working to better understand deer and their effects by implementing a long term monitoring project using our newly hired conservation program coordinator. On-site monitoring work of this nature, consistently led by fulltime staff, is essential to managing this property into a productive and resilient future.

Upham Woods has historically managed the deer population and monitoring through an annual hunt started in 1984 on Blackhawk Island during the gun deer season.

The Fall 2019 Deer Monitoring report is available here.

Buck walking through the snow

A buck was spotted on our trail camera by our Blackhawk Island beach.

graph showing deer per hour by site on Blackhawk Island

More deer are found around Blackhawk Island’s campsite and narrows than other parts of the island.