Ozaukee Washington Land Trust

The 2016 Preservation Awards

The Ozaukee Washington Land Trust is a true community organization. It quite literally could not exist without the partnership of numerous organizations, support of volunteers, donors, and supporters of all types. That is why OWLT takes great pride each year in presenting their Preservation Awards for leadership, outreach, stewardship and volunteerism.

The awards are presented each year at the OWLT Fly In Feast – an annual celebration of the land trust’s great work and great friends. This year’s event will be held on Sunday, August 21 at the Forest Beach Migratory Preserve in Port Washington.

The 2016 Timothy Kaul Leadership Award will be presented to Constance Pukaite. Connie Pukaite is a former Mayor of Mequon and current alderperson, and has been working for years in the Mequon area to foster community partnerships.

One of Connie’s recent projects is the Pukaite Woods / Rotary Park in Mequon, where she was instrumental in bringing together a land stewardship and restoration partnership that included The Ozaukee Washington Land Trust, the City of Mequon, and the Mequon/Thiensville Rotary Club.

In addition, in 2016 Connie established a fund at the Greater Milwaukee Foundation to support restoration and stewardship on protected lands in Mequon, especially the Pukaite Woods.  As with all great leaders, Connie has seized  the opportunity to make change for the  better for current and future generations. 

OWLT appreciates and salutes Connie’s commitment to community and the environment


The Arthur E. Schait Volunteerism Award will be presented to the Western Great Lakes Bird & Bat Observatory (WGLBBO)  Board of Directors.  This award is given for outstanding achievement in volunteering, which includes the volunteer Board Member who dedicate their time to WGLLBO.

In November 2009, Noel Cutright emailed many friends and colleagues with the following message: “My dream is to turn the Squires Golf Course (Forest Beach Migratory Preserve) clubhouse in Ozaukee County that is owned by the Ozaukee Washington Land Trust, into a building that would house the Midwest Bird Observatory.  You are the first persons that I've shared this dream with. Reaction?”

Shortly thereafter, Noel’s vision was realized and WGLBBO was formed.  Its mission: “To advance the conservation of bird and bats in Wisconsin and throughout the Western Great Lakes Region through coordinated research, monitoring, and education.”

Despite operating for only a few years, WGLBBO has established a year-round headquarters and a research library at the Forest Beach Migratory Preserve, and has been successful in raising funds to conduct research and carry out several significant conservation projects.  It helps OWLT maintain the buildings and restore habitat at Forest Beach, and provides stewardship guidance at our other preserves.

OWLT and WGLBBO share the long term goal of making the Forest Beach Migratory Preserve a regional destination for birders.  OWLT greatly values our partnership with the Board, Bill Mueller and rest of the staff of WGLBBO.

The 2016 Patricia Wilmeth Stewardship Award will be awarded to the Milwaukee Audubon Society & The Sisters of the Sorrowful Mother for their outstanding achievement in protection or stewardship of a property, forest, or wildlife habitat.

OWLT knew it would take a team of committed partners to put together the necessary elements to acquire the 155-acre property known as Spirit Lake.  Today we honor two of those partners with the Patricia Wilmeth Stewardship Award.

Since the 1960’s, the Sisters of the Sorrowful Mother enjoyed this natural area near the Milwaukee River as a retreat, to connect with nature and provide space for thought and reflection.  When it came time to sell the retreat, rather than trying to maximize their financial return from the sale, the Sisters sought a buyer/partner who would appreciate and protect the natural beauty of the land.

The Milwaukee Audubon Society, in concert with its mission “…to protect and restore Wisconsin’s natural heritage and ecology..” was also a crucial partner in the protection of this property.  They saw Spirit Lake as a future home to pursue their mission, and so assisted in financing the purchase.  Milwaukee Audubon will eventually take ownership of the preserve.

 OWLT is honored to have such wonderful partners who share the love of natural places and have the foresight to invest now to benefit future generations

The 2016 Michael Frome Outreach Award is proudly presented to Dr. Neal O’Reilly, University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee. The award is given to an educator, writer or media source that demonstrates excellence in educating or sharing information related to land preservation and the environment.

Dr. Neal O’Reilly graduated from Marquette University in 2007 with a Ph.D. in Environmental Engineering and Environmental Law.  He has researched methods and published articles related to watershed evaluation and protection programs.  These projects developed a better understanding of the linkages between watershed conditions and the biological responses within warm water streams in Wisconsin.  Throughout his career, Neal collaborated with many cities in Wisconsin on urban storm water management, planning, and funding.

After over 37 years in the field of water resource management, Dr. O’Reilly joined the Conservation and Environmental Science (CES) teaching staff at the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee.  While there, he promoted the CES Capstone program to the surrounding communities, giving college students real world conservation experiences.

As one example of their work, students from the CES program assisted OWLT by assessing the natural resource base within the City of Mequon to inform a strategic, open-space preservation project within the city.

Dr. O’Reilly together with the CES faculty and students at UW-M are leading the way in developing programs that give college students real world field conservation experiences.