About Us

The Welty Environmental Center offers year-round programs for all ages. Notices of activities are published here on our website, our Facebook page as well as our periodic newsletter, The Warbler, available via email or regular mail.

The center is a place where both children and adults can gain hands-on encounters with biological, physical, and chemical elements of nature. It provides a challenge to its users to relate concepts of the natural and social sciences and humanities to environmental, ecological, and related social concerns. Our programs stimulate interest in local, regional, and global environmental issues.

Wisconsin has mandated that environmental education be part of all K-12 curricula. In support of the state’s requirements, the Welty center offers programming for school classes, as well as professional development opportunities for teachers. All program offerings are listed here on the website.

Our Mission

Our mission is to provide leadership in environmental education by equitably engaging the diverse residents of the Stateline region with activities that foster an appreciation of nature and promote environmental stewardship

Brenda Plakans | Welty Executive DirectorBrenda Plakans

Executive Director

Brenda Plakans, Executive Director of Welty Environmental Center since 2017, joined the staff in 2016 as Development Director, after serving on the Board of Directors.

Before leading Welty, she worked at Kerry in their Regulatory department, and was a costume designer in Washington D.C. and Los Angeles. She earned a B.S. in Cellular, Molecular, and Integrative Biology from Beloit College in 2014, and also has graduate degrees in Costume Design and Art History.

Her proudest work is Welty’s collaboration with area non-profits such as the Boys and Girls Club, Community Action, Inc., and the School District of Beloit– these partnerships mean kids of diverse backgrounds have access to nature-based learning and fun, while creating a pipeline for future environmental leaders.

Aaron Wilson | Welty Environmental CenterAaron Wilson

Program Director

Mr. Aaron is always ready to have fun exploring the world around us. He loves to dig around in the soil and poke around fallen trees to discover creepy crawlies and colorful fungi.

Before  joining the Welty staff in 2018 he was an adjunct instructor of Environmental Science at Le Cordon Bleu in Mendota Heights, MN.

He graduated from Beloit College in 1999 with a B.A.s in Creative Writing and Rhetoric and Discourse and a minor in Environmental Studies.

Darien Becker

Environmental Educator

Darien received her bachelor’s degree in environmental biology at Cornerstone University in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Darien has lived in Oklahoma and Kansas working with grassland plants, insects, birds, and soil. She also has worked as an environmental educator in South Carolina.

In 2021, Darien completed her master’s degree in wildlife and fisheries resources at West Virginia University studying the effects of different land use practices on turtle movement, abundance, and heavy metal bioaccumulation (such as lead and mercury).

On her days off, Darien enjoys hiking and birdwatching with her husband and dog. As a wetland ecologist, she has a passion for plants and animals (especially birds and reptiles) and loves to share her love for nature with others.

Executive Committee

Mark Spreitzer

Mark Spreitzer

President
Kirk Berridge

Kirk Berridge

Vice President
Heidi Andre

Heidi Andre

External Secretary
Jan Knutson

Jan Knutson

Internal Secretary
Kevin Larson

Kevin Larson

Treasurer

At-Large Directors

Dave Bendlin

Dave Bendlin

Doug Elfstrom

Doug Elfstrom

Betsy Brewer

Betsy Brewer

Jane Fossum

Jane Fossum

Tony Bosco

Tony Bosco

Jingjing Lou

Jingjing Lou

Cindy Laube

Cindy Laube

Kaelyb Lokrantz

Kaelyb Lokrantz

Lynn Vollbrecht

Lynn Vollbrecht

Harry Wiersgalla

Harry Wiersgalla