Wild Ones   About Wild Ones  
Our Mission
Wild Ones: Native Plants, Natural Landscapes promotes environmentally sound landscaping practices to preserve biodiversity through the preservation, restoration and establishment of native plant communities. Wild Ones is a not-for-profit environmental education and advocacy organization.

More Information:
Our Inspiration: Lorrie Otto
WILD Center
Seeds for Education
Recognized by State of Wisconsin
Wild Ones® Natural Landscapers, Ltd. has established this web site with two primary goals:
  • Provide information about the Wild Ones organization and native plant landscaping to members, potential members and other interested people, and
  • Strengthen local chapters by helping them communicate with their members, and by encouraging the exchange of good ideas among chapters.


In 1977, nine people in Milwaukee, Wisconsin attended a natural landscaping workshop led by Lorrie Otto and became intensely interested in the new concept of landscaping with native plants. Their enthusiasm blossomed into Wild Ones Natural Landscapers, a national not-for-profit organization with a mission to educate and share information with members and community at the "plants-roots" level and to promote biodiversity and environmentally sound practices. We serve as a resource for private individuals, schools, commercial property owners, and community decision makers as they move toward ethical choices in land use and in the redefinition of current guidelines and ordinances affecting our landscape. Because we are a "plants-roots" organization, our organizational goals are accomplished through local chapters and their individual members.

On June 8, 1990, Wild Ones Natural Landscapers Ltd was organized under Articles of Incorporation -- Non-stock Corporation Law, Chapter 181 of the Wisconsin Statutes. On April 11, 1995, Wild Ones was granted exempt status under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue code for educational purposes.

Prior to 1995, the original Milwaukee Chapter of Wild Ones (Milwaukee-North) had been functioning as the administrative hub for the entire membership and there were only a few chapters. Because of membership growth, it became necessary to rethink the organizational structure in order to meet present and future needs and to enhance communication among the growing number of chapters. Summer of 1995 marked the first meeting of the new National Board and national officers. Bret Rappaport, a Chicago attorney, was elected as President, and continues to serve on the national Board. At that time, the national Board of Directors was comprised of nine elected at-large members plus each chapter president. In 2000, the By-Laws were changed to facilitate decision making; and the Board now consists of 15 elected at-large members. The Executive Committee is made up of the national officers -- President, Vice President, Secretary, Treasurer, Past President -- and the Executive Director. Valuable assistance comes from the Publications Editor, the Seeds for Education Director, the Librarian and the Webmaster. Except for the Executive Director and the Journal Editor, all members of the Executive Committee, Board of Directors and chair people are volunteers. Each person brings their own unique expertise to our organization for the purpose of implementing the Board’s directives and guiding chapter operations.

The Lorrie Otto Seeds for Education Program (SFE) began in 1996 and was named in honor of naturalist and Wild Ones inspirational leader Lorrie Otto, a pioneer in the natural landscaping movement in the United States and on who's philosophy Wild Ones was founded. SFE annually gives cash awards to places of learning and other organized groups who successfully communicate their vision of creating natural landscapes using native plants for the purpose of educating users of the facility and the community. Applications are judged and winners selected by a volunteer panel of educators and naturalists. SFE Nursery Partners (native plant nurseries and propagators) also donate seeds, plants and guidance to grant recipients.

Beginning with 2003, the Wild Ones national board approved a new name for Wild Ones. The legal name will remain Wild Ones Natural Landscapers Ltd, but for purposes of more clearly aligning our name with the mission of our organization, we will now refer to ourselves as Wild Ones: Native Plants, Natural Landscapes.

On July 23, 2004 the State of Wisconsin recognized Wild Ones in honor of its 25th anniversary as an exemplary organization. Wild Ones celebrated the occasion of its 25th anniversary on August 7th and 8th with a blow-out annual meeting and conference in Madison, Wisconsin. Keynote speaker was Robert Michael Pyle, noted speaker, professor, and ecologist and award-winning author. We were fortunate to have several of the original founders celebrate with us.

The purchase of the Wild Ones Institute of Learning and Development (WILD Center) was celebrated on August 22, 2008 at the first annual meeting to be held at the Wild Ones new headquarters. The WILD Center consisting of 16 acres of upland, riparian woodland and marsh as well as a very lovely headquarters building, is a showcase for natural landscaping and native plants.

Wild Ones 30th anniversary was celebrated back in Milwaukee -- back where it all started because of a simple workshop put on by Lorrie Otto.

A complete time line of Wild Ones events can be found at chronology.

The Wild Ones logo is the official registered trademark of Wild Ones: Native Plants, Natural Landscapes. The Wild Ones logo is protected by law, and may not be used by other organizations or entities without express written permission from Wild Ones.

Wild Ones Vision and Values Statement

Wild Ones Vision for Our Future: To become a widely recognized voice for native plants and the sustainable landscaping movement, promoting increased use of native plantings that create living landscapes through grassroots efforts by example, education, marketing, and personalized support.

• We will raise public awareness regarding the benefits that native plants, including trees, shrubs, wildflowers and grasses, offer in a variety of settings so landscaping with native plants becomes the norm rather than the exception.

• We will persuade the general public that including native plants in home and public landscapes is aesthetically pleasing and healthier for our environment, and that reducing unnecessary turf grass reduces stormwater runoff and unnecessary use of water, fuel, and lawn chemicals.

• We will see the use of native plants extend into an increasing number of areas where plants touch the soil - such as pollinator support and public places.

• We will join forces with others to preserve native plants and biodiversity from loss due to development and other forces, including displacement by non-native invasive plants.


Widely recognized: Means getting our name and what we do in front of the general public over and over until it is as commonly understood as "Audubon Society = Birds."

Leading voice: Means that we are the group most people think of first when they need information, advice, or support on the "how to" or benefits of landscaping with native plants.

Join forces: When it comes to preserving native plants from loss due to habitat destruction and other related causes we will collaborate with other groups who take on such efforts as their primary mission to lend our support. We understand that the survival of native plants in the long term may depend on these efforts. However, Wild Ones' core focus will be to support native-plant community restoration through education.

Wild Ones Core Values:

Respect: Our mission stems from our respect for the other species on this planet and future generations. We will treat each other - our staff, members and volunteers - with respect at all times. We respect different tastes in landscaping but also ask that others show respect for the common good by considering how they can conserve resources and improve the environment via the inclusion of native plants in their landscapes.

Personalized support: our members value the opportunity for direct contact with other Wild Ones members and the ability to "learn locally." This sets Wild Ones apart from many similar organizations. Networking and education are our most important functions.

Appreciation - Volunteers R Us: To keep our dues low and our efforts local, Wild Ones is a grass-roots organization that runs primarily on volunteer effort. We will continue to rely on volunteers to carry our mission forward. We will support our volunteers and recognize their efforts, especially those in volunteer leadership positions.

All members are valuable members: At the national level our income is largely derived from member dues and donations. We appreciate all members, respecting that everyone has varying priorities and demands on their time which impact their ability to volunteer.

Fresh and Adaptable: While we stay focused on our core abilities and goals we will continually look for and solicit ideas from our Board, our members and honorary directors for new strategies that we might use to further our goal of promoting sustainable landscape practices.

Wild Ones Honorary National Directors

Wild Ones primary goals as an organization are to advocate for native plants, restoration of precious ecosystems, and environmental education. We do this by influencing others through networking, educational programs, chapter activities and other events. But we do not wish to presuppose that we are the only people with these goals and the ability to influence. With that in mind, we feel it is important to recognize people who have contributed greatly to our cause either through their personal contributions in healing the Earth or through their personal contributions toward advocating for Wild Ones. One way we can recognize these people is to award them the title of Honorary Director.

As a lifetime honorary director, Lorrie Otto was a naturalist and the Wild Ones inspirational leader, a pioneer in the natural landscaping movement in the United States. She continued to serve the community by teaching, lecturing, acting as witness and advisor in legal matters, and communicating through TV, radio and publications through her 93rd birthday. She received numerous awards for her efforts. Lorrie has planted the seeds of natural landscaping in the hearts of thousands. These, in turn, have left a legacy to future generations by returning their own patches of the biosphere to nature.

Wild Ones has ten Wild Ones Honorary Directors who are listed at the bottom of the Contact Us webpage. There you will also find brief bios.

Wild Ones Website

Wild Ones national has developed this website to provide an Internet connection to our members, as well as to the rest of the world. It enables Wild Ones and its chapters to showcase their accomplishments to the rest of the Internet world, as well as promote their mission of natural landscaping with native plants.

To accomplish this, each chapter has their own webpages on the Wild Ones website. To maintain a sense of standardization for specific information related to all chapters, templates have been created to enable chapters to provide specific information. These include contact information and calendar events. The chapters are encouraged to keep their contact information current and to update the calendar for their program meetings and events to keep their members and others up-to-date on their activities.

As part of the service available through our website, Wild Ones is able to offer a variety of other services to our chapters and our members, i.e., members-only pages and Wild Ones E-Nets.

The members-only pages are private pages and are accessible only by members.

The Wild Ones E-Net is a communication tool which functions like a group e-mail. To make the sharing of information easier and more timely not only between national and chapters and members, but also between chapter boards and national, a variety of group e-mails have been created. Except for a very instances which apply to internal national functions, all e-nets are private which means only those who are included in the group e-mail can use them.

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Updated: Feb 11, 2012.