The following is about my volunteer environmental work. Find my professional CV following this link.  

Current (2014):

  • Work with the Rede Lixo e Cidadania - PB (Trash and Citizenry Network of Paraiba) - recycler class worker co-ops and associations
    I work mostly as support for groups in providing technical assistance (sites= and as well as doing a lot of photography and also geo-referencing as needed.
  • Involved in the city of Campina Grande's solid waste plan development
  • The revitalization of Minnow Creek (Riacho das Piabas) group
  • Attending meetings to create a project with the city development agency on Minnow Creek restoration
  • City mobility issues committees - focus on bicycling
  • Urban Gardens group - a small group of citizens interested in starting the urban garden movement here
  • City's 150 year celebration - environmental issues committee
  • Researcher on topics pertinent to environmentalism in "my back yard," Campina Grande, Paraiba, Brazil
  • Amateur birder

I'm a former Wisconsinite. I was raised in the shadow of many great conservationists, both famous names in conservationism as well as a much larger number of environmentalists who were simple dedicated citizens concerned about this marvelous planet. I now live in Brazil where there aren´t so many readily available ecocentric role models. It is very important that citizens have access to graceful sketches about the lives of both famous and not-so-famous environmentalists such as to have a positive impact on lives that might also be motivated to turn their ecocentric thoughts into action.

As a boy coming of age in the 1970s the big names certainly had their effect on me, but what truly transformed me were the lessor known fellow residents that took up the tasks needed to transform aspirations into reality, changing concepts into legislation and then, most importantly, heading out into our backyards, our wild areas, our run-down and worn out places abused for the resources they contained, to make them better or at least stop their demise. People that were not a part of those initial struggles often take for granted the efforts required and the difficult struggle necessary to create the ethical vision behind such works.

In my youth, graced by living in what so often was dubbed the "the best place to live in the United States,"1 I had access to a naturally bountiful environment with many green spaces (wild and managed) and plentiful water resources. My youthful world was divided into activities that involved:

  • Garter snake (Thamnophis sirtalis) stalking and Woodchuck (Marmota monax) observation where a large shopping mall was built in the 60s
  • Netting tadpoles of Pickeral Frogs (Rana palustris or were they Northern Leopard Frogs Lithobates pipiens?) in the twisty little stream that once graced Rennebohm Park (now straightened into a concrete canal) or in the roadside pluvial rivulet that accompanied University Avenue from Meadow Lane, passing in front of the old sandstone Mapleside mansion (Abel Dunning Residence - see WHS)
  • Night-time collecting of a supply of earthworms (Lumbricus terrestris) at the Blackhawk or Glenway golf course for the next day's fishing adventure
  • Canoeing out from University Bay (where the family canoe was kept locked until somebody else decided that they needed it more than we did) and filling my 1 gallon pickle jars with small water critters with nets made from my mother's old pantyhose - I needed foodstuff for my bedroom aquarium collection (spectacular spring hatches occurred, not too popular with mom)
  • Fishing days of summer when I left before sunrise and made my way around 4 different Madison lakes returning well after sunset and always had plenty of luck catching
    • Bluegills (Lepomis macrochirus),
    • Northern Pike (Esox lucius),
    • Striped Bass (Morone saxatilis),
    • Perch (Perca flavescens),
    • Bullheads (Ameiurus melas),
    • Carp (Cyprinus carpio)
    • and others
  • Wandering the plentiful green spaces dotting my neighborhood (Hoyt Park, Shorewood Quarry, Lucia Crest Park, Quarry Park (which we called Raymond's Woods - don't know why), Merrill Spring, the UW Arboretum [where one could hear coyotes cry out when the fire-engines went close by], Picnic Point, Second Point (now Frautschi Point), the Eagle Heights shoreline area and so many more green spaces as can been seen by following this link to a Google map of Madison parks
  • Visiting my next-door neighbor, Donald Samuelson, who always had the most interesting collections of turtles living in his family home's window wells or the sandbox
  • Taking my hefty hand-me-down Schwinn to my grandfather's farm, which later was named Hiestand Park, to collect nuts from under the Northern Shagbark Hickory trees (Carya ovata var. ovata) or simply enjoy the springtime Trillium (Trillium grandiflorum) and May-apple (Podophyllum peltatum) displays
  • and so much more. You get the point.

Of the things (not people) that I miss living in my new place of residence, the northeast of Brazil, I miss those things that I used to do as a participant in the Wisconsin outdoors

Yet another example of youthful exploration was when I came to know the Menominee Reservation (1975) it would become a reference point for many decades to which I would take my dearest friends, family or people from other lands that needed to see what WI really was at one time. From beyond the Earth's atmosphere, the Menominee Reservation is a patch of green that is easily distinguished from the surrounding farmed areas. It is one of the many reference points that Wisconsin has. I made regular visits to the reservation after I came to know it, mostly for the annual Keshena Pow-wow, which would afford me some time to camp under the stars (mostly invisible to city dwellers) and fall asleep to drums (a synapse between what lives on the surface and the Earth's inner workings) and go drift down the Wolf River during the day to marvel at the LACK of development along the banks.

I am grateful to the Menominee for their work in sustainable forestry and offer the following link to a publication titled "MENOMINEE TRIBAL ENTERPRISES, Maeqtekuahkihkiw Kew Kanahwihtahquaq, “The Forest Keepers,”” The Menominee Forest-Based Sustainable Development Tradition, 1997, cooperatively produced by:

  • The Menominee Indian Tribe of Wisconsin (MITOW) - Environmental Services Department, Mr. Gary Schuettpelz, Director
  • The College of the Menominee Nation - Sustainable Development Institute - Dr. Verna Fowler, President
  • Menominee Tribal Enterprises, Mr. Lawrence Waukau, President

Add link to sustainability site which is currently being reconfigured

Authors (just an odd mix) I have found educational:

  • Carson, Rachel
    • "The Sea Around Us," 1951, Oxford University Press
    • "Silent Spring," 1962, Houghton Mifflin
  • Castro, Josué de
    • "Geography Of Hunger," 1953, Victor Gollancz, (288 pages) (aka Geografia da Fome: A Fome no Brasil. Rio de Janeiro: O Cruzeiro, 1946)
    • "Of Men and Crabs," [Reality fiction] September 1970, Vanguard Pr; 1St Edition edition (190 pages) (aka "Dos Homens e caranguejos," 2001, Civilização Brasileira - 188 pages)
  • Cousteau, Jacques Ives
    • "The Cousteau Almanac of the Environment: An Inventory of Life on a Water Planet," 1981, Doubleday (864 pages)
  • Diamond, Jared M.,
    • "Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed," 2005
  • Gard, Robert E.
    • "Wild Goose Marsh, Horicon Stopover," 1972, Wisconsin House LTD.
  • Hawken, Paul
    • "The Ecology of Commerce," 1993, Harper Collins
  • Lapham, Increase Allen
    • "The Antiquities Of Wisconsin: As Surveyed And Described," 1865
  • Latouche, Serge
    • "Pequeno tratado de crescimento sereno," 2009, WMF Martins Fontes
    • "Farewell to Growth," 2010, Polity
  • Leopold, Aldo
    • "A Sand County Almanac," 1949, Oxford University Press (in Portuguese, "Pensar Como Uma Montanha," Sempreempe, Portugal)
    • "Exit Orchis"
  • Maxwell, Gavin
    • "Ring of Bright Water," 1960
    • "People of the Reeds," 1966
    • "Raven Seek Thy Brother," 1970
  • Mowat, Farley McGill
    • "Never Cry Wolf," 1963, McClelland and Stewart
    • "People of the Deer (Death of a People)," 1952
  • Olson, Sigurd F.
    • "Reflections from the North Country," 1976
  • Ruschi, Augusto
    • "Orquídeas do Estado do Espírito Santo," 1988, editora?
    • "Aves do Brasil Vol. II," ano, editora
    • "Beija Flores do Estado do Espírito Santo (Aves do Brasil Vol. III)," 1982, editora
  • Vogt, Richard Carl
    • "Natural History of Amphibians and Reptiles in Wisconsin," 1981, Milwaukee Public Museum (ISBN-10: 0893260606)
  • Waldman, Maurício
    • "Lixo: Cenários e Desafios - Abordagens Básicas para Entender os Resíduos Sólidos (Waste: Scenarios and Challenges - Fundamental Approaches to Solid Waste Knowledge)," 2010, São Paulo (SP): Cortez Editora
  • Walton, Izaak
    • "The Compleat Angler," 1653, Available via the Gutenberg Project
  • Werneck de Castro, Moacyr
    • "O sábio e a floresta: a extraordinária aventura do alemão Fritz Müller no trópico brasileiro," 1992, Ed: Rocco

Here is my short list of Wisconsinites that launched or kept me in eco-centric activities (and just to be clear about what I find is necessary to really understand the topic, I am not a "professional" environmentalist but my understanding of the issues is based on experience and not simple armchair "beliefs" as this is not a philisophical nor religious discussion):

  • Gaylord Nelson, WCHF link - Wikipedia
  • Aldo Leopold, WCHF link - Wikipedia
  • John Muir, WCHF link - Wikipedia
  • Sigurd Olson, WCHF link - Wikipedia
  • James Zimmerman, Link to more info and who wrote a marvelous guide to Wisconsin wildflowers in 1972 with Booth Courtenay that is STILL on my bookshelf here in Brazil.
  • Richard Carl Vogt, Link to Brazilian Amazon Project page of Vogt - Richard wrote THE guide to the "Natural History of Amphibians and Reptiles in Wisconsin," published in 1981.
  • Robert E. Gard, Link to the Gard Foundation - Gard wrote a marvelous book titled "Wild Goose Marsh: Horicon Stopover," with photographer Edgar G. Mueller, June 1972, That influenced me to such a degree that I eventually bought a second home on the Rock River with direct access to the Horicon Marsh, known for the diversity of bird [and other] life found there.
  • Laurence J. Pfister, my grandfather, who was a kind steward to what is now Madison's Hiestand Park which was previously his farm (place my mother, Lorraine Elsie Pfister, was born) and where I spent many summer days collecting hickory nuts, observing spring trillium and may-apple displays, pulling grandpa´s potatoes (he always needed a little soil under his fingernails) out of their beds to collect in his cold storage room. "Laurie's" family farmed what is now Maple Bluff (and a lot of the area on Sherman Avenue) and always enthralled by being close to the land always had some small farm project going (pony farm where the Walmart near Sycamore is now (2012) located, lots in the Sheridan Triangle neighborhood where he planted corn and more). When he brought his family into the city limits to reap the benefits of living closer to schools, libraries and the beautiful northeastern shoreline of L Monona, he went to work as an agricultural assistant at the UW where he worked in the greenhouses on campus.
  • Berhardine Vahlen (Pfister), my grandmother, who was as frugal as frugal can be and knew that the earth provided for us all that we needed, as she took her husband's garden produce and canned it (oh, so many tomatoes) or preserved it in other ways to end up on my family's dining table.
  • My parents, Robert E. Berigan and Lorraine E. Pfister regularly carried me off to the northern WI woods where I marveled at the diversity of life from the depths of those clear glacial lakes to the tree-top nests of bald eagles. A paddle, a canoe, a family of otters and I was in the holiest setting that I could imagine (I suggest that all young parents do the same for their children as the lessons learned exploring have immeasurable value). Curiously, mom always gave incentive to go one place or another: at 13 off for a week with a family in a poorer part of Milwaukee, at 14 to a Red Cross camp [Tamarack] in Waupaca, at 15 biking to my sister's house in Rockford Il., at 16 again to Waupaca on a bicycle to visit a friend's family, at 17 off to Finland as a summer Rotary exchange. Once an "adult" (19), I was off hitchhiking up the two-lane Hwy 51, with my tent and sleeping bag strapped to my back, where I would find places that brought me great peace of spirit; a campground along the Chippewa River where brown bear would rattle the refuse cans during the night, watching fireflies drift down the Bois Brule as trout fed at the surface leaving their tell-tale ripples or simply sitting stationary in the gorge below Brownstone Falls at Copper Falls where the most interesting sounds can be heard (see Part One of Wisconsin Waterfall Myths and Legends - also Part Two).
  • Donald Samuelson, a next-door neighbor that kept his family's sandbox and window-wells always stocked with critters from his endeavors inthe wilds around Madison. Don was always showing me his catches (which he also released later) and astounding me with the diversity of life (mostly turtles) that one could find in the near-by areas.
  • The sisters and lay teachers at Queen of Peace grade school that sent their students to the streets of the Midvale neighborhood with trash bags on that first Earth Day (1970) that Gaylord Nelson nursed to life (I fortunately came to know his daughter Tia later in life).
  • Audrey Ready ( (Accessed May 2012), or see this clipping from page two), who "borrowed" me from my parents (1970s-80s) to do honeysuckle eradication projects in the UW Arboretum and who became one of my main reference points on most things of nature for a good part of my youth. She always had a reason to go check out activity at Madison Audubon's Goose Pond north of the city, or track down a reported warbler in a nearby school forest2 and was always excited to receive my field observations on nature, whatever they might be. Audrey was a person with infectious passion for all things natural.
  • Robert (Bob) Julian Fausett (photo), who gave me the opportunity to work (riprapping streams, planting trees, creating wood duck ponds with his son Carl Fausett) on his 80 acre hobby restoration farm (1970s-1980s) at the entrance to Baxter's Hollow (which he eventually donated his acres to the Nature Conservancy). His farm restoration came from his dream as a young UW student (housed in the Badger Ordnance complex housing and bused to campus every day) to save a most beautiful Wisconsin treasure, a starting point for what would become 5586 acres (link to TNC's info on Baxters Hollow) of what the Nature Conservancy calls "one of only 75 outstanding ecosystems in the western hemisphere...."3 It was a long fight that required partnership among many. I was one of his "weekend warriors" that planted stream banks and hillsides, placed rock to form tiny falls to improve oxygenation of the stream and spread native seed where it hadn't been seen for many years. As a part of spending time with Mr Fausett I also came to learn that hunting was not necessarily a bad thing. In fact, what I became educated in, first-hand, was that the better part of the effort to restore habitat loss (which is what really threatens flora and fauna of the planet) is carried by ethical hunters (something R.J. Fausett picked up as a youth as part of the influence of his indigenous roots). And, in fact, a very large part of the money generated to do the preservation work comes from an 11% federal excise tax on firearms and ammunition under the Pittman-Robertson Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Act.4(US$14 Billion dollars since 1937 with marvelous collateral effect on non-species as well - because game species and non-game species require common ground)
  • Impressive people, yet not close friends, such as Lowell Genrich from Trout Unlimited and Lowell Carter from the Dane County Conservation League (DCCL) that got me involved (1970s) in stream restoration on the Mt Vernon Creek watershed (an outstanding and productive coldwater trout resource which was once threatened by soil erosion and increased water temperatures but revived -money & labor- by those that appreciate the need to maintain such resources). Becoming a trout fisherman (thank you, Bob Slinde) took me all over southwestern Wisconsin, especially during early trout season where I experienced incredible natural things (example: fly hatches in winter) that one can never learn in books or on TV or computer screens.
  • Dedicated researchers like my friend and brother-in-law, Craig Berg, of the Milwaukee Country Zoo who always looked for company on outings around Wisconsin while he did research on his area of special interest (sometimes in distant places as the island of Granada), reptiles and amphibians of Wisconsin. My children are fortunate to have had the influence of Craig during their growing years as Craig always exposed all of us to the marvelous realities of the natural world. He also helped link us to other dedicated lovers of nature like Bob Hayes, formerly of the Dept. of Natural Resources.
  • David Musolf & Roger Packard, UW Madison, who have led the charge for decades to dedicate the very piece of Wisconsin where Aldo Leopold first formulated his wildlife management ideas and pondered the fate of natural species as he did in Exit Orchis, the prairies to the west of the Crawfish River, north of Lake Mills. They continue this work today (a very noteworthy Earth Day story and example of the volunteerism that Wisconsinites take pride in). A sample of my fotos of a 2007 prairie reclamation day is at but you can also find more details at
  "…on a still night sit quiet and listen,
and think hard of everything you have seen
and tried to understand. Then you may hear
it – a vast pulsing harmony - its score inscribed
on a thousand hills, its notes the lives and
deaths of plants and animals, its rhythms spanning
the seconds and years."

[Aldo Leopold, inside the cover of the booklet Madison School Forest2]

Innumerable Wisconsinites, from most every background, take the time to care about the place in which they live, to be stewards to our little space on the planet that future generations of the humans species, as one with plant and animal species so that we all might continue to thrive.

We are in crisis here in Brazil, now rated as the number one user of agrochemicals5.

  "O Brasil se destaca no cenário mundial como o maior consumidor de agrotóxicos respondendo, na América Latina, por 86% dos produtos. Em 2005, os estados que mais consumiram agrotóxicos foram São Paulo (54.916,8 t), Mato Grosso (32.112,5 t), e Paraná (25.810,0 t), e os que menos consumiram foram Acre (40,4 t), Amazonas (31,6 t) e Amapá (4,6 t)"

It gives one thought about those long-ago days when we first picked up Rachel Carson's 1962 "Silent Spring" and wondered if our spring could also be silent of the birds returning to their spring/summer homes. Brazil is living a period of economic expansion not unlike Wisconsin in the 50s-70s and it is having a similar effect - yet people here are yet unaware of what this "blessing" potentially causes in their future. Wisconsin can help in this regard IF WISCONSINITES care to take their message FORWARD and beyond the state boundaries.

section still in progress

There things that I do to try to represent the WI land ethic in the world. It is part of my acquired values having been a part of that history in my country/state:

  • Spreading the knowledge of Aldo Leopold and his work such as the book "Sand County Almanac", translated to Portuguese (Editora "Sempre Em Pé") to share among the growing number of environmentalists found here.
  • Work on water projects (Riacho Das Piabas), recycling (Co-op COTRAMARE) and urban mobility (bikes).
  • Supporting efforts in a statewide recycling network (Rede Lixo e Cidadania).
  • Helping to program educational events via the annual New Consciousness Gathering (held during the regular Carnaval period).
  • Searching for useful educational resources that might be used here (Brazil) to help avoid repeating ecological mistakes made elsewhere. (Need to get permission for the WKOW "Our Wisconsin: John Muir" segment which is very helpful.