Our Work

Staff works hard on many different projects here at Mequon Nature Preserve. They are dedicated to restoring the land, educating people of all ages on the environment, and monitoring the absence and presence of different flora and fauna species. Check out our End Of Year Report to see what we worked on in a year! Make sure to check out the MNP Field Guide to learn more about the land!

Environmental Education

Our award-winning environmental educators are proud to be able to offer everyone free educational programs. Every year, over 3,000 children come to the Preserve for free field trips. Students hike through the forests, wetlands, and prairies and do a variety of activities. All field trips get a chance to hike up our Observation Tower. Staff also provides free programs for adult learners throughout the year. Staff also venture out into the community and attend various local festivals and events. at these events, they promote MNP’s mission and invite everyone to check out the Preserve.

Click here for information about our field trips.

Click here to watch some fun, informational videos about our work and other environmental topics pertaining to MNP!

Habitat Restoration

Mequon Nature Preserve is in the process of returning the land back into the mosaic of forests, wetlands, and prairies that once covered the land. This is done by breaking drain tile in the agricultural fields, removing invasive species, planting native trees and shrubs, and throwing down native plant seed. This will help clean the air and water while also support biodiversity in the various habitats we create.

Check out how the vegetation on our property has changed over the years! This was done through satellite imagery.

Help us plant a forest by donating to our Restoration program! You can also help build a forest by purchasing a memorial tree through our Tree by Tree Program.

We use many tools to carry out our work. An important tool are our Conservation Dogs, Tilia and Timber! To learn more about them, click here.

Research & Monitoring

There are over 50 acres of wetlands at MNP! Staff throw mesh traps into the ponds for a few weeks during the summer. The main focus is to determine the absence or presence of salamander larvae and other organisms in each of the ponds. Staff will also determine the health of the pond by the other organisms that they find as well as use a water sonde. Knowing the health of the pond will determine how our restoration efforts are affecting the land!

Since 2001, over 200 bird species have been spotted on property. Many of these birds are seasonal or year-round residents while some are migratory. Staff monitor bird species in many different ways. These include bird banding, monitoring birdhouses, and relying on uploads to eBird from birders hiking the trails. 

MNP staff use a Hydrolab HL7 water testing sonde to test the waters on property. This testing device can measure seven parameters of water quality: dissolved oxygen, pH, temperature, turbidity, conductivity, nitrate, and ammonium. These measures can be used to determine the health of the restored wetlands and streams at MNP. Staff and interns measured water quality at 25 sites across the preserve throughout the growing season.

Fondy Food Center works with immigrant and local farmers who need access to land to grow vegetables, fruit and flowers to sell at local farmers markets in Milwaukee. Fondy Food Center is currently renting 40 acres of land at MNP which provides 25 farmers with long term land access. The Fondy farmers are growing over 100 different crops which greatly improves our biodiversity for pollinators and other wildlife.

Agriculture Heritage

We know we need farms to grow our food. That is why we are intertwine our restoration work with agriculture. The result, Restoration Agriculture! There are plots near our farm that have pockets of trees and shrubs with harvestable products. We also partner up with Fondy Food Markets and a Marquette University professor doing a rice study project.

Currently Dr. Michael Schlappi of Marquette University, Fondy Food Center and a local farmer who grows traditional row crops through a no-till agricultural practice are renting land to grow crops. Holding some land in agriculture helps us build healthy soils and keep invasive species out of these areas while we are restoring other areas of the Preserve. The crop that Marquette University is growing is rice. The goal of this research project is to see if rice can be a new commercial cash crop for farmers in Wisconsin. Dr. Schlappi is utilizing the natural wetlands at MNP to grow strains of rice that were originally cultivated 8,000 -10,000 years ago starting in the Mesopotamia area. They are testing many different strains of rice from Russia, Japan, China, Thailand and Italy. Currently there are two acres of cold tolerant rice being grown, harvested and marketed locally.


We take pride in the fact that we are the largest green space in Southeastern Wisconsin. With 6 miles of trails to explore, we are a great space to get outside! The goal is to provide nature-based opportunities for all community members. Everyone is welcome to attend our events, hike the trails, join one of our clubs, and enjoy Marty’s Playspace. We want to provide a fun, and safe outdoor area for all members of the community.