Wisconsin Remembers Conservation Leader, Emily Earley

On April 16th, Wisconsin lost one of its most avid conservationists.  Emily Earley worked vigorously to promote active land stewardship by organizations throughout Wisconsin.  She is publicly remembered by her friends, co-workers, and fellow conservation leaders for her unflagging dedication to her cause.

In 2008, Gathering Waters Conservancy was delighted to give Emily the Harold “Bud” Jordahl Lifetime Achievement Award for her tireless leadership in promoting environmental protection and land conservation throughout Wisconsin and abroad. From Wisconsin to Nicaragua, Emily has lived the last forty-plus years of her life as an exemplary model of leadership, stewardship, activism, volunteerism, advocacy, philanthropy and so much more.

Emily Earley and Bud Jordahl at the Gathering Waters Conservancy's 2008 Land Conservation Leadership Awards Celebration

Emily was a particularly deserving recipient.  She was nominated by no fewer than 7 individuals from across the conservation community. Jim Welsh, Executive Director of Natural Heritage Land Trust said, “I can think of few individuals who have made such a difference….  Many of our leading conservationists and environmental organizations owe some of their start to Emily’s encouragement, generosity, and spirit.”

In 1964, she joined the Board of trustees of The Nature Conservancy of Wisconsin and served in that post for more than 40 years.  She was one of two women to serve as Board chair.  Ms. Earley was known for her abundant enthusiasm and ability to garner support for her causes. Her friend and fellow board member, Dave Cieslewicz remembers her as a revered force at 1000 Friends of Wisconsin.  She was also a founding member of The Wisconsin Conservation Corps, Environment Wisconsin, and the Sigurd Olson Environmental Institute at Northland College in Ashland.

In 2010, Emily Earley was inducted into the Wisconsin Conservation Hall of Fame.  Among those who spoke of Earley’s contributions were Gov. Jim Doyle.  Gathering Waters Conservancy Board Member, Tia Nelson remarked, “Emily is an important and respected fixture in Wisconsin’s environmental community…Emily is in fact not a fixture, rather a voice, a call to action, a spirit, a spit-fire.  We are inheriting a much cleaner, greener Wisconsin thanks to Emily.”

Emily Earley was truly instrumental in the development of Wisconsin’s conservation movement.  Her enthusiasm, dedication, and unwavering leadership will be dearly missed.