UW 175 concludes with interactive, informative sustainability events at the Community Open House

Last July, UW–Madison began the yearlong celebration of its 175th anniversary by raising the Ho-Chunk Nation flag at Bascom Hall. The act acknowledged the history of the land on which the university stands, which the U.S. government claimed from the Ho-Chunk people in a treaty signed under coercion in the early 1800s.

Since then, UW–Madison has continued to consider the past and future of the land by funding  botanical collecting and raising Ho-Chunk banners illustrating the lakes of Teejop. To conclude the year of celebrations, UW 175 will host a Community Open House from April 5 to 7, 2024 that invites community members to a weekend of interactive events and hands-on activities.

Featuring a First Nations cultural landscape tour, hands-on science activities, and demonstrations about UW–Madison’s transition to clean energy, here are six notable sustainability events free and open to the public during the Open House . The full event guide can be found on the Open House website, with more sustainability events—about agrivoltaics, aquaponics, and sustainable engineering projects—scheduled to be posted prior to the event.

First Nations Cultural Landscape Tour

Where: Information Desk, Memorial Union
When: Friday, April 5, 10 to 11 a.m. 

Those 18 and older can take part in the “award-winning, place-based, walking tour … to learn about the First Nations of Wisconsin and the 14,000+ years of human history in the area known as Teejop (Four Lakes) and Madison.” Tours begin at Memorial Union and conclude atop Bascom Hill, with a limit of 25 participants per tour. Email fnclt@uwmad.wisc.edu with the subject line “FNCLT 175th Open House” to reserve your spot.

Madison by Bike

Where: Howard Temin Lakeshore Path
When: Friday, April 5, all day

Destination Madison, the city’s tourism wing, invites bikers to a self-guided tour on the Lakeshore Path, which extends alongside Lake Mendota and includes Picnic Point. Bikes available for rent at a discount through Madison BCycle.

Wisconsin Energy Institute Open House

Where: Wisconsin Energy Institute, 1522 University Avenue
When: Saturday, April 6, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

With the help of WEI scientists, attendees will be able to design wind turbine blades, run a biofuels experiment, tour a laboratory, engage with demonstrations, and learn about how UW–Madison is transitioning to clean energy. Building tours begin at 10:30am and 11:30am, while the hands-on science activities run from 10am to 1pm. 

Plants Make Color

Where: Nancy Nicholas Hall, the “Link” entrance
When: Saturday April 6, 12 to 4 p.m.

Come see the “Remaking the Renaissance Exhibition” at the School of Human Ecology, curated by textile historian Sophie Pitman, and learn about the cultural significance of color and how people dyed textiles with plants during the Renaissance.

The Lakeshore Nature Preserve 

Where: Picnic Point Entrance, 2000 University Bay Drive
When: Sunday, April 4, 12 to 4 p.m. 

Experts from the Lakeshore Nature Preserve, along with interactive learning stations, will help visitors of all ages learn about local insects, birds, trees, effigy mounds, and sustainable outdoor practices. Visitors can also stop by the Office of Sustainability table to learn about UW–Madison’s new sustainability goals and Lakeshore Nature Preserve Frautschi Center, scheduled to open in 2026. Hot chocolate and crackling campfire free of charge.

Family Nature Walk and Nature Hike at UW Arboretum

Where: Visitor Center, UW Arboretum, 2880 Longenecker Drive
When: Sunday, April 7, 1:30 to 2:30 p.m. 

Families with elementary-aged children and younger are invited to learn about ecology and plant and animal species at the UW Arboretum, while adults are invited for a separate nature hike covering sloping terrain. All visitors will be able to engage with interactive activities, demonstrations, and exploration stations.

By: Marek Makowski