About 1000 Islands Environmental Center

The 1000 Islands Conservancy Zone was established in 1969 by the Common Council of the City of Kaukauna and included 240 acres of woodland and river area. The purpose of the Conservancy Zone is to preserve the land in a natural state for the benefit of all citizens, with the idea of teaching good conservation practices and preservation of natural resources.

The Conservancy Zone now encompasses 350 acres and has 7.2 miles of trails which includes a one-mile trail along the Fox River. It also has 2,000 feet of barrier-free boardwalk. The hiking trails along the River have benches with wonderful views to enjoy as you rest. Cross country ski and snowshoe trails are in the upper woods of the Conservancy and provide recreation for hundreds of skiers and snowshoe enthusiasts each winter. While walking, you may see eagles, deer, and a great variety of waterfowl and birds of all kinds.

In 1976 the initial Center’s building was dedicated as a Bicentennial remembrance established by the City. Original funding for the Center came from the City of Kaukauna, local businesses, and organizations along with many private donations. Building additions were completed throughout the years and funded through public and private sectors, grants, bequests, and memorials with the last addition being completed in 2001.

Currently, the Center is funded through the City of Kaukauna, the Kaukauna School District, Outagamie County, the Friends of 1000 Islands, local organizations, and private donors. An Endowment program was started in 1983 with a bequest of $25,000 from a former teacher, Evelyn Handran. Contributions to this fund can be made through special memorial gifts, wills and bequests.

The number of visitors at the Center has gone from less than 10,000 in 1978 to more than 60,000 visitors yearly. Over 18,000 school children from Northeast Wisconsin make this their environmental field trip each year. School programs include learning how maple syrup is made, paper making, nature hiking the upper and lower woods, and eagle viewing. Summer programs are also offered for children of all ages and include nature hikes, picnics, birdhouse and feeder building, fishing, birding, crayfish, and critter hunts.

Inside the Environmental Center building you will find live animals including Jabber, our talking parrot, several species of fish and turtles, a tarantula, and a snake. Interactive educational displays along with a Fox River arrowhead collection, native animals and birds can be seen. The Center is also well known for a mounted animal collection, donated by the Joe Van Daalwyk family which includes mounts from North America and other countries. Additional mounts were received from John Barlow and Bob Juneau are also on display.

The Center is staffed by Naturalist, Deb Nowak along with Assistant Naturalist, Stephanie Feuerstein; Site Manager, Bud Gadow, and Administrative Assistant, Maureen Feldt. The staff is aided by the Friends of 1000 Islands and many dedicated volunteers.