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Fascinated by monarchs

Oberhauser to lead UW Arboretum

By Erik Buchinger

Former Clintonville resident Karen Oberhauser was named the director of Arboretum at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

An internationally-renowned monarch butterfly expert, Oberhauser was born in Berlin but moved to Clintonville at 5 years old, where she lived until college.

“I actually raised monarchs as a kid growing up in Clintonville, so that was my first exposure,” Oberhauser said. “Me and my family would collect them from the wild.”

Oberhauser said she was intrigued by insects at an early age.

“I don’t even remember when my fascination with insects started, but it was something I was interested in as a child,” Oberhauser said.

After she graduated from Clintonville High School in 1974, Oberhauser attended Harvard University and received a bachelor of arts in biology.

Oberhauser received a bachelor of science degree in natural science education at UW-Madison and taught biology and chemistry at Onalaska High School for three years.

Oberhauser also has a doctorate in ecology and behavioral biology from the University of Minnesota, where she is currently a professor.

During the summer, Oberhauser teaches courses for K-12 teachers.

“It’s really interested in using monarchs as a vehicle to engage people in science and also in conservation, and monarchs are perfect for that,” Oberhauser said. “They’re a really good tool for the classroom.”

Oberhauser will start her new job on Oct. 1, where she will work at the Arboretum’s 1,200 acres of land in the center of Madison.

“It is a place where people can come and learn about nature, people takes hikes though it, go on bike rides,” Oberhauser said. “It really has a great history.”

Oberhauser said she is ready to get started in her new position and hopes to increase interest in what the Arboretum is doing.

“I’m getting excited to do more research in Arboretum and using the center for teachers for Wisconsin,” Oberhauser said. “I’d love to have teachers from all parts of state come down for classes, maybe even from Clintonville. I’d really like to increase what the Arboretum is already doing to bring people in throughout the state for activities going on there.”

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