Life of pioneer scientist focus of nature series

The Evening with Nature series returns to the Kettle Moraine State Forest - Northern Unit on Thursday, September 8, with the program, The Truly Incredible Life of Increase Lapham. The program is scheduled to start at 7:00 p.m. at the Ice Age Visitor Center, located off of Hwy 67 half mile west of Dundee. The program is free, but donations are always gratefully accepted.

Increase Lapham (1811-1875) was Wisconsin’s pioneer citizen scientist. Lapham’s ability to observe, understand, and meticulously catalog the natural world marked all of his work, from his days as a teenage surveyor on the Erie Canal to his last great contribution as state geologist. Self-taught, Lapham mastered botany, geology, archeology, limnology, mineralogy, engineering, meteorology, and cartography. A prolific writer, his 1844 guide to the territory was the first book published in Wisconsin. Asked late in life which field of science was his specialty, he replied simply, “I am studying Wisconsin.”

Join Martha Bergland and Paul G. Hayes, authors of Studying Wisconsin: The Life of Increase Lapham, as they delve into this incredible man’s life. Bergland, after retiring from teaching English at Milwaukee Area Technical College, wrote an article for Milwaukee Magazine on Increase Lapham. The research for this article became five years of research for the biography.

During 33 years at The Milwaukee Journal, science reporter Hayes often relied on the work of Increase Lapham. After retiring Hayes continued to write, often referring to Lapham and his contributions. Completing the biography made fitting finale to a fifty-year acquaintance.


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