Upham Woods celebrates 75 years of youth education with $60,000 donation

Wisconsin State Farmer


4-H Campers at Upham Woods Outdoor Learning Center, located north of Wisconsin Dells, canoe down the Wisconsin River. The camp hosts 4-H members from more than 30 Wisconsin counties each year, as well as school and scout groups, other youth organizations and adult professional development workshops.
An adult group prepares for a trip on the Voyageur Canoe during a team-building exercise at Upham Woods Outdoor Learning Center, north of Wisconsin Dells. Upham Woods, home of statewide summer 4-H camps during the summer months, also hosts school groups during the week and the general public on weekends with curriculum including outdoor education opportunities and teambuilding exercises.

Upham Woods Outdoor Learning Center will celebrate 75 years of educating Wisconsin’s youth in the great outdoors on Sunday, Sept. 18, after receiving its largest cash donation in more than 30 years.

“Upham Woods has flourished as an invaluable resource for helping youth develop an appreciation for nature and for themselves,” says Justin Hougham, director of Upham Woods and assistant professor at the University of Wisconsin-Extension. “As we commemorate 75 years of rich history, we also look forward to a promising future of continuing our mission of environmental and leadership education.”

To celebrate and commemorate the 75th anniversary, Upham Woods invites 4-H Camp alums and nature lovers of all stripes for a day of outdoor activities, comradery and remembrance.

On Sunday, Sept. 18, guests can arrive and register between 9:30 and 10 a.m., followed by a rotation of activities from 10 a.m.-noon: tours of the historic nature center, a campfire and sing-along, field games and more. After a cookout-style lunch, speakers from Upham Woods’ past and present will talk about their memories of the nature center. The event schedule and more information is available here.

Founded when sisters Elizabeth Upham Davis and Caroline Upham Hughes donated 310 acres to the University of Wisconsin System in 1941, Upham Woods is a model residential outdoor learning center. The University of Wisconsin Extension property, located north of Wisconsin Dells, operates as a facility for youth natural resource education and training for adult leaders, volunteers and teachers.

School groups, scouts and 4-H groups come from all over Wisconsin to enjoy the outdoors along the Wisconsin river. For more information on the history and future of Upham Woods, visit

Earlier this year, the Upham family donated $60,000, the largest gift in Upham Woods history, to match funds already raised in honor of the year-long 75th anniversary celebration.

Robin Buerki, the grandson of Elizabeth Upham Davis, attended the presentation of the donation, noting “Our Upham family is thankful to Wisconsin 4-H and the UW-Extension for their stewardship of Blackhawk Island, protecting its natural ecosystem, and their success in positively impacting thousands of people each year through programs at Upham Woods.”

“The generous donations of the Upham Family, Upham Woods alums, 4-H families and outdoor education enthusiasts allow more youth to enjoy and learn in this natural environment each year,” Hougham says.

Those who wish to donate to Upham Woods and are unable to attend the event may contact Wisconsin 4-H Foundation using the information above or by visiting and clicking Make a Gift Today.

Wisconsin 4-H Youth Development is part of the nation’s largest youth development and empowerment organization. In Wisconsin’s 72 counties, more than 150,000 youth in urban, suburban and rural settings take part in 4-H and other UW-Extension youth programs.

Youth from five-year kindergarten to one year past high school learn leadership, teamwork, critical thinking and communication to help prepare them for success while engaging in fun, hands-on 4-H activities, from livestock care to art, drama and science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). Find out more about Wisconsin 4-H at

UW-Extension offers timely access to University of Wisconsin research and knowledge through educational colleagues in 72 county offices, on five 4-year campuses and within three tribal nations, offering educational programs that address the important issues of individuals, families, businesses and communities. Find your county extension office at