The Association of Retired Conservationists was organized by a group of retirees from the Wisconsin Conservation Department in the 1960's. By the mid-1970's, the WCD had been combined with the Department of Resource Development to form the Department of Natural Resources, and the retirees group had grown significantly, met monthly for lunch and began inviting speakers to address the group on issues of interest to the members. Today, the organization has more than two hundred members.

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About Us

The Association of Retired Conservationists (ARC) is located primarily in the southern part of the state, and any DNR retirees are welcome to join the group or are welcome to attend the annual picnic or holiday parties. Both are heavily attended and provide a chance to connect with a lot of former colleagues.

In addition, there are a number of informal local DNR retiree groups you can join. These groups network and some have periodic luncheons. Here are contacts who can provide more information:

*Rhinelander area contact: Dale Lang
This retiree group is centered in Rhinelander includes Langlade, Lincoln, Oneida, Vilas, and Forest Counties. Retirees in other counties are welcome to join, as well as those who reside elsewhere and have seasonal residences here, or who worked for DNR but retired from another employer. There are no membership requirements and no dues. We usually meet monthly for lunch at various locations. Luncheons have been suspended during the COVID situation, and will resume when we feel it is safe. Contact Dale Lang with any questions.

*Green Bay area contact: Margaret Beaumier

*Spooner area contact: Grace Radman

*Eau Claire area contact: Bruce Neeb
Retirees in the Eau Claire area currently meet for breakfasts at Randy's Family Restaurant, at the corner of Craig Road and MacArthur Avenue. The group was started by Jack Daniel and the late Duane Popple. Information was originally passed by word of mouth as people retired. A group mailing list was created and is maintained by Jim Boettcher. It is used to pass on information on items of interest including and the LCRA (Lower Chippewa River Association), Beavercreek Reserve, etc. Everyone is welcome. but it is primarily a guy thing to this point.

The South Central Wisconsin Association of Retired Conservationists
ARC Membership: The applicant must be retired after having worked in the field of environmental conservation. (Retirees from DNR, the DATCP, DOT, the U.S. Forest Service and the U.S. Soil Conservation Service are all eligible to join. However, the majority of current members are DNR retirees.) One need not retire at DNR to apply.

Joining is simple:

Attend two meetings.
  • At the first a current member you know (and choose) introduces you and gives a short summary of your work at DNR.
  • At your second meeting, members vote on your joining (always a unanimous yes), you pay your $5 lifetime dues, and you are in. ARC members include folks from all disciplines in the agency, from administration, to law enforcement, fish and wildlife, parks, forestry, water, research, air quality, internal services, solid waste—the whole nine yards.

Meetings: ARC is primarily a social organization with monthly lunches. We encourage volunteering in communities and DNR. At our annual picnic and holiday party, we raise money for Second Harvest. At every luncheon – held once a month on the first Wednesday – we review new and old business, get an update on ETF policies affecting retirees, and catch up on the health, travel, etc. of members. Infrequently, when we are very concerned about policies impacting DNR, we will vote to send a letter opposing or supporting.

Current officers:
  • Laurel Steffes, President Laurel Steffes
    (I&E program);

  • Dan Fields, Vice-President, Dan Fields
    (R & R program)

  • Barb Wolf, Secretary, Barb Wolf
    (Law Enforcement program)

  • Dick Steffes, Treasurer, Dick Steffes
    (Real Estate program)

Keeping touch: We have a professionally tended to webpage, that includes updates from each meeting, member profiles, photos, and a “News Now” page where members can post information about meetings, discipline events, volunteer opportunities, DNR news, etc.) ARC also produces an annual member directory that gives you contact information for fellow members; the directory is shared only with members.

That’s about it. Please browse our website. If you are interested, just show up at a lunch. Our schedule is here. No reservation needed. Or contact one of the officers.

And thanks! for your service to the environment and resources of Wisconsin.

Our History

The Association of Retired Conservationists was organized by a group of men who retired from the Wisconsin Conservation Department in the 1960's. When the State's executive branch was reorganized in 1967, the State Legislature created the Department of Natural Resources by combining the Department of Conservation and the Department of Resource Development. By the mid-1970's, the retirees group had grown significantly, met monthly for lunch and began inviting speakers to address the group on issues of interest to the members. Today, the South Central Wisconsin Association of Retired Conservationists has over 200 members.

One purpose of the ARC meetings is to allow people who had worked together during their long careers to continue to socialize after retirement. However, a policy statement signed by the officers of the organization in 1976 explained that the group also wants "to support programs and objectives which in its judgment were beneficial to sound management" of our state's natural resources. In 2007, the ARC membership unanimously reaffirmed their social Mission as well as their support for science-based conservation legislation and other conservation efforts.

At that time, members also voted to continue to reimburse the costs of having two ARC members represent the group at the Employee Trust Funds and State of Wisconsin Investment Board meetings and keep ARC members informed of issues related to the Wisconsin State Retirement system.

ARC meets monthly at restaurants in south central Wisconsin (most often, in the Madison area). A social hour begins at 11:30 a.m. followed by lunch, which is usually served at 12:30 p.m., and a brief business meeting or a speaker follows after lunch.

At the time it was organized, some ARC members wanted to admit only males, so a separate DNR Women Retirees Group was formed in the 1970's. Then in 2005, ARC members voted to adopt a policy on membership eligibility to make it clear that women retirees are also eligible to join ARC.