Welcome to Wild Ones Fox Valley Area

Wild Ones Fox Valley Area Chapter / PO Box 385, Appleton, WI 54912 / [email protected]

Toward Harmony with Nature Conference is now Toward Harmony with Nature Fair!!

The 2024 Keynote Speaker is Emily Stone of Cable Natural History Museum

Please stay tuned as we continue to add to the new space for the ALL NEW Toward Harmony with Nature Fair (THWN FAIR menu item at top of page) and thank you for your patience. Please spread the word.

Stay tuned! Our 2024 program schedule and course offerings are coming out in January.

Native Plant Classes!

Are you interested in learning more about native plants? We have hired a great team of professionals to teach native ecology classes on everything from botany to landscaping to insects and uses of native plants!  Find out more here!  New class are added on an ongoing basis. Download the current flyer here!


Archived newsletters can be viewed here.

Wild Ones: Native Plants, Natural Landscapes promotes environmentally sound landscaping practices to increase biodiversity through the preservation, restoration and establishment of native plant communities.  Wild Ones is a not-for-profit environmental education and advocacy organization.

Please join the mapping project by answering the questions about your property. Photos would be great, but are not necessary.  Specific species information is optional.

Since our Chapter’s beginning in 1994, Wild Ones Fox Valley Area (WOFVA) continues to celebrate and promote the use of native plants in home and civic landscaping.  We lead the natural landscaping movement in exploring, teaching, and changing the practice of gardening to include the use of  native plants.  Join us in helping to restore our natural world.

National Wild One headquarters is located at the WILD Center, in the heart of the Fox Valley.


Winnebago Audubon Society
Outagamie County Master Gardener Association
Paper Valley Garden Club
Many more!

We also sponsor an education grant program, Natural Landscapes for Tomorrow.

Looking for help?  Check out our videos


Shannon-Davis Foust – President & Conference Co-Chair

Shannon has her Ph.D. in Biological Sciences from UW-Milwaukee and has widespread interests in native and invasive species, habitat restoration, and reconnecting people with nature.  She presently teaches courses at UW Oshkosh in Biology and Environmental Studies, is an Affiliate of the Sustainability Institute of Regional Transformations organizing outreach events on environmental topics, and advises the Student Environmental Action Coalition and Sustainable Beekeeping Club.

Stef Losse – Vice President

Stephanie has been active in organic farming and horticulture for over ten years. She works in urban forestry and  landscaping, and is a longtime advocate for wildlife conservation in Wisconsin and the Great Lakes region. She has an AAS in Sustainable Horticulture and is currently working toward a degree in Biology with emphasis in ecology and Environmental Education. Her goal is to educate others on the importance of ecologically-sustainable and native-friendly practices. 

Ron Jones – Treasurer & Grants Chair

I’ve worked as a forester for the past 46 years, 34 years with the Wis DNR and the past 12 years as a parttime consulting forester. As a forester, I have observed the vital role of native plants in the forest ecosystem, and it has been alarming to witness invasive plants slowly invading the local natural landscape over the past 20 years. I’m glad to be helping the Chapter with Wild One’s mission of educating and spreading the word about the vital importance of native plants in providing ecosystem services both in our rural and urban landscape.

Deb Benada – Secretary

My husband, Robert, and I have been learning about native plants for the last 20 years and have installed native landscaping around our homes in California and Wisconsin – Waupaca and Neenah. I really enjoy the camaraderie, education and inspiration of Wild Ones.

Dawn and Dan Barker – Membership Co-chairs

Dawn and Dan Barker are new to Wild Ones, joining in 2022. Both of us have spent the majority of our years in the Fox Cities and have resided in the Town of Neenah for the past 33 years. We have four wonderful children and seven delightful grandchildren.

Both of us are graduates of UW- Oshkosh. Dawn’s career was as an RN for Theda Clark and  later at Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin. Dan spent forty nine years in Manufacturing working at both Pierce Manufacturing and then the Ariens Company. Dawn retired in 2020 and Dan last year in 2022.

In retirement, Dan gardens extensively, and is working to restore native habitat to our property. Dawn is busy canning and freezing what our garden produces and also helps with the habitat restoration. We both also like to hike, travel, especially to see our children, and are busy readers.

Robert Benada – Newsletter Editor & Speaker’s Bureau Chair

My wife, Deb, and I fell in love with landscaping with natives in California in 1983 and have enjoyed that journey with each place we’ve moved.  It is a joy to see how they thrive in the right conditions and how they attract birds and pollinators.  We’ve really learned much more since joining the Board and editing our chapter’s newsletter and EBlast. through working with fellow members.

Mary Swifka

Mary Swifka – Program Chair

I joined the WOFVA board in 2020 and serve as the program committee chair.
I worked as an environmental educator for more than 35 years before retiring in 2022. During that time, I found Wild Ones to be a valuable source of information and resources to further the mission of my organization. As a person who has a desire to transform our semi-urban yard into a native habitat for wildlife, belonging to Wild Ones was a no-brainer.
When we bought our house in 1990, the yard was a typical lawn and lilacs type of area. My original plan to have a prairie planting in the backyard has had to be amended as our trees are 30 years older and 30 years larger. So we’ve pivoted to planting more shade-tolerant species.
Although we still mow, the scrawny lilac is still standing and we don’t think we’ll ever get control of the dame’s rocket or buckthorn, I’m pleased with the progress we’ve made so far. If we can keep the rabbits from girdling the hazelnut, and what’s left of the big box elder from falling on our fire pit, we might just keep on doing this for a while.

Janet Carlson – Publicity Chair

I first got inspired to convert my garden to native plants after attending my first conference several years ago.  My small yard is now surrounded by native gardens and has attracted multiple birds for our enjoyment.  I also joined the Master Gardener program in order to expand my knowledge on other aspects of gardening.

Paula Knier – Display Chair

My love for all things wild comes from my family: from walks in the woods with my parents to my grandmothers’ love of growing anything, with a multitude of furry creatures around their feet. My husband already had a home when we married. The yard was sparse. The previous owner loved tulips and spring flowers that floundered among the weeds. It had been some years since I had played in the dirt, so I started with the weeds. Imagine my surprise at the moisture I found, along with a disgruntled toad. I realized my folly too late as I had destroyed a thriving eco system. Ever since that time, I have been striving to make our yard an oasis for all living things. In my search for native plant knowledge, I stumbled across Wild Ones Fox Valley Area website. I’m honored to be supporting an organization that has already taught me so much.

Sue Forbes – Mentoring Chair

I am the current Mentoring Chair for Wild Ones Fox Valley Area Chapter. I am a charter member of the chapter, the first treasurer of the chapter and the conference, Towards Harmony With Nature, and a lifetime member of Wild Ones. My interest in natives began in childhood as my mom and my uncle would give “guided” hikes while camping. I still enjoy walking in the woods and fields and observing the beauty of nature. Now that I am retired, I am able to enjoy other pursuits such as gardening, reading, cooking, and travel.

Sue Forbes

Donna VanBuecken – Plant Rescue Chair & Plant Sale Chair

Donna VanBuecken retired in 2015 after 17 years as Wild Ones first Executive Director, and continues to actively promote native landscaping and invasive species management through her blog Accent on Natural Landscaping (Accentnatural.com) until 2022. She and her husband John have native landscaping throughout their 1-1/3ac homestead in Town of Grand Chute and 80 acres of hunting property in Shawano County. She was a founding member of IPAW.

Mel Mohr – Web Chair

Mel currently works in Fisheries Management for the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. She has a passion for the ecology of our world and finding solutions for a proper synergistic relationship with our human-centric living. She does have many passions. She is an orca lover, a bird-nerd, an urban farmer, and now diving into the plant identification world. She has a Bachelor’s in Biology and Environmental Studies from UW Oshkosh.

Amanda Zehren – Social Media Chair

Amanda is an Appleton-based artist and environmental activist. She has made nature her primary creative subject for years, and has been using her art and her skills in social media outreach to educate people and promote a healthier relationship with the planet.