Time to renew your Friends of MacKenzie membership!

Memberships in the Friends of MacKenzie come up for renewal each January, so now is a great time to take care of that.  You can use the form at the end of this post or find one in our brochure.  Even though many of you contribute many volunteer hours (which makes a huge difference in keeping the Center running and enabling the friends to do so many things), you might also wish to become a member.  The dues help fund scholarships for schools and other groups when they come to MacKenzie for day and over night trips (often used for transportation costs).  It also is used directly for materials for projects like replacing the roof on the log cabin museum, safety improvements for our hay wagon, purchasing bird feeding supplies, improvements to the wildlife area, and so much more.  Please consider renewing or becoming a new member today.

Membership form for 2020

Friends Annual Meeting, January 18, 2024

To all members and those who have an interest in the MacKenzie Center,

Greetings and Happy New Year!

We will hold our annual membership meeting on Thursday, January 18, 2024
Location of meeting–the Lodge at the MacKenzie Center, W7303 County CS and Q, Poynette, WI 53955
4:45-6:15 registration and bison dinner for $15.00
6:15 business meeting
7:00 program on outdoor education
RSVP to Sue Brockel by Jan. 12, 2024: [email protected] or 608-846-4145
We will also have a Zoom virtual meeting option available for the business portion of the meeting. Please send an email to [email protected] if you would like a Zoom invitation.
Hope to see you there!
Friends of MacKenzie Board

Maple Education at MacKenzie — Volunteers needed

Maple Education At MacKenzie

Maple syrup season is almost here, so our Maple Education Program will soon be in full swing. If you’re interested in volunteering to help with the Maple Program, please email Abigail Janey at [email protected] or call 608-635-8112.

All volunteers must register in advance, attend volunteer training and pass a background check. Volunteers may also be asked to submit additional required paperwork.

Indoor-only shifts are available but limited; most shifts are partially or entirely outdoors in Wisconsin winter conditions.

Here are some important dates to keep in mind if you are interested in volunteering for the Maple Education Program:

Maple Volunteer Registration Closes
Friday, Jan. 19, 2024, at 4 p.m.

This is the last day to register as a volunteer for our Maple Program.

Maple Program Call-in Day
Monday, Jan. 29, 2024
Opens at 7 a.m.

Maple Set-up Day
Wednesday, Feb. 21, 2024
9 a.m. – 3 p.m.

We may finish our set-up early, depending on the number of volunteers available.

Maple Volunteer Training
Thursday, Feb. 22, 2024                          
9 a.m. – 3 p.m.

Required volunteer training is from 9 a.m. to noon in the MacKenzie Lodge, with an optional Maple Program walk-through from 1 to 3 p.m. Lunch will be provided for all attendees.

Maple Volunteer Guide Training – In-person
Tuesday, Feb. 27, 2024
10 a.m. – noon

Required training for Maple Program volunteers who wish to be program guides. Please meet our MacKenzie Center educators at the Badger Den.

Maple Volunteer Guide Training – Online                        
Thursday, Feb. 29, 2024                          
10 a.m. – noon

If volunteers cannot attend the in-person training on Tuesday, Feb. 27, they must attend this online Zoom training to participate in the Maple Education Program.

Maple Education Program
Tuesday, March 5 – Thursday, April 4, 2024

The MacKenzie Center’s Maple Education Program welcomes students to learn the process and history of making maple syrup in Wisconsin. Maple education runs Tuesdays through Thursdays twice daily during March and the first week of April. Each field trip is 2 hours and 15 minutes, from 9 – 11:15 a.m. and 11:45 a.m. – 2 p.m. Volunteers will be needed from 8:30 a.m. – 3 p.m. on those days.

February Events at MacKenzie

Candlelight Snowshoe & Hike
Friday, Feb. 2, 2024
4:30 – 7:30 p.m.

Join us at the MacKenzie Center for a fun Friday night of hiking and snowshoeing on our illuminated path. A limited number of snowshoes will be available to borrow, so bring your own if you have them!

Park in the Lodge parking lot. This night hike has low light conditions, so please plan accordingly.

Winter Wonders Learn To Ski
Saturday, Feb. 24, 2024
10 a.m. – noon

Join us for a winter wonders ski on our south trails! We will discover and learn about skiing in the beautiful snow-covered prairie and forest. A limited number of skis will be available, so feel free to bring your own if you have them.

Meet our naturalists at the MacKenzie Lodge at 10 a.m. and dress for cold weather.

Christmas Trees for Wildlife

Before you discard your Christmas tree to the curb, please consider donating it to the animals at the MacKenzie Center.  Christmas trees are a favorite enrichment item for most of the animals here at MacKenzie. It gives them an opportunity to explore new smells, observe a new item, play with them, or use them as a shelter where they can hide next to or under.

If you do decide to donate your Christmas tree, please make sure that all of your ornaments and their hanging wire hooks, and strings are off to prevent any injury to the animals. Also, some of our animals may consider tasting the trees, so please no trees that have being sprayed with fire retardant chemicals or any other hazardous materials.

You can drop off the trees by the back entrance of the wildlife area and our wildlife technicians will pick them up and bring them up to the animals.

Thank you!

Attached a few photos of our two foxes playing around a donated Christmas from previous years.

If you have any questions, you can also contact Alder Villegas, Wildlife Technician, at [email protected]

Upcoming Events in December and January (updated)

Winter Wonders Learn To Ski
Saturday, Dec. 16
10 a.m. – noon

Join us for a winter wonders ski on our South Trails! We will discover and learn about skiing in the wonderful snow-covered prairie and forest. Please dress for the weather and meet MacKenzie naturalists at the South Trails parking lot.

First Day Hike
Monday, Jan. 1, 2024
1 – 2:30 p.m.

Celebrate the first day of 2024 with a hike on the south trails alongside MacKenzie naturalists. Please bring your own hiking gear and meet naturalists at the South Trails parking lot. Snow will not be removed from the trails.

Wolf Moon Hike
Thursday, Jan. 25, 2024
5:30 – 7:30 p.m.

Experience the natural world under the glow of the first full moon of the year, called the “Wolf Moon.” We will hike through restored prairies, practice observation skills, and warm ourselves by the campfire. Bring your own hot beverage and dress for the weather. Please park in the Badger Den parking lot and meet a MacKenzie naturalist there promptly at 5:30 p.m.

Public Events for December and January

Greenery Workshop

Friday, December 1st                      1 – 4pm

Come spend a festive winter day crafting around the fireplace here at the MacKenzie Lodge. We encourage participants to bring their own greenery supplies, although we will have a small amount of greenery and other materials available. Participants are also welcome to bring their own warm beverage to enjoy! Please register for this event as there is a $10 fee for supplies by contacting 608-635-8112 or [email protected]


Winter Wonders Learn to Ski                                                                                                                           

Saturday, December 16th              10 – Noon

Join us for a winter wonders ski on our South Trails! We will discover and learn about skiing in the wonderful snow-covered prairie and forest. Please dress for the weather and meet naturalists at the South Trails Parking lot at 10am.


First Day Hike 

Monday, January 1st, 2024                               1-2:30 p.m.

Celebrate the first day of 2024 with us in the snow! We’ll be trekking along the south trails to explore the forest and prairies on the first day of the year! Meet naturalists at the South Trails Parking Lot and please bring your own hiking gear, trails will not be removed of snow.


Call for Volunteers to prepare for Candlelight Hike on Nov. 4, 2023

Call For Volunteers
Saturday, Nov. 4

As we near our Fall Candlelight Hike, MacKenzie naturalists are looking for volunteers to help prior to Nov. 4 preparing the tealights. Additional volunteer opportunities are available on the day-of setting up the candlelit path, tending the campfire and directing parking. Please contact the MacKenzie Center Education if you’re interested in volunteering at 608-635-8112 or [email protected].

Comment on DNR Master Plan now through Nov 2, 2023

This is a news release from the DNR.  We urge all interested to read the Master Plan (especially as it relates to the MacKenzie Center) and comment as you see fit either online or by attending one of the public comment meetings.

MADISON, Wis. – The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is seeking comments on the next phase of the Central Sand Hills Regional Master Plan process.

Among the more than 60 properties included in the plan are Devil’s Lake and Hartman Creek state parks, the MacKenzie Center, Mecan River, Caves Creek and Pine River fishery areas, White River Marsh, Grand River Marsh, Lawrence Creek wildlife areas, Lunch Creek Wetlands, Observatory Hill and Plainfield Tunnel Channel Lakes natural areas.

The DNR has developed a draft vision and goals for the properties along with management objectives for each property. For some properties, alternative approaches to reach the objectives have been developed. These draft plan elements are now available for review in the Central Sand Hills Draft Vision, Goals, Objectives and Management Alternatives document.

The department is seeking public comments on the document from now through Nov. 2, 2023. The document, and information on how to provide input, is available on the department’s Central Sand Hills Region webpage.

The department encourages the public to submit comments using the online public input form located on the project webpage. Additionally, two public open house meetings will be held in Prairie du Sac (Sept. 27) and Wautoma (Oct. 3).

Both meetings will run from 4 to 7 p.m., and department staff will give a presentation starting at 5:30 p.m. Staff will be available to answer questions and discuss this next phase of the planning process before and after the presentation.

Hard copies of the document are also available at the Devil’s Lake and Hartman Creek park offices and at the Baraboo, Portage and Wautoma public libraries.

Please submit questions or comments on the master plan by Nov. 2, 2023 to:

John Pohlman, DNR Property Planner
PO Box 7921 Madison, WI 53707
[email protected] or 608-264-6263



What: Public meetings on the Central Sand Hills Regional Master Plan

When and Where:

4-7 p.m. Sept. 27
River Arts Center at the Sauk Prairie High School
105 Ninth St.
Prairie du Sac, WI

4-7 p.m. Oct. 3
Waushara WWII Veterans Memorial Building
440 W. Main St.
Wautoma, WI

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