Gaylord Nelson

A Vision for the Earth

1916–2005

How do you make history?

Gaylord Nelson had an idea for a day focused on the environment. That idea would become the internationally recognized annual event, Earth Day, and would inspire generations of people to learn about and care for the earth. Born and raised in Clear Lake, Wisconsin, Gaylord went on to become a state senator, governor of Wisconsin, and a United States senator. With every step he took in his career and in his life, he kept his eyes on the environment. He advocated for change in the halls of government, in classrooms, and in communities, to ensure a better world for us all.

Meet Gaylord Nelson

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Questions to Consider

Illustration of the geographical shape of the State of Wisconsin with the number 1 superimposed above it

What was Gaylord Nelson’s childhood like? How did it affect what he did as an adult?

Illustration of the geographical shape of the State of Wisconsin with the number 2 superimposed above it

Why did Nelson want to have a day focused on the environment? How did his idea lead to the first Earth Day?

Illustration of the geographical shape of the State of Wisconsin with the number 3 superimposed above it

A vision can be what you plan or imagine for the future. What was Gaylord Nelson’s vision for the earth? What is yours?

Read On

Illustrated portrait of Gaylord Nelson

Gaylord Nelson: A Vision for the Earth

Get the full story with this biography book. Audio files are available on each page if you’d like to listen along!

 

Project Credits

Producer
Mia Forslund

Illustration
Rodney Lambright II

Animation
Steven Dorchester

Animation Voice Over
Tia Nelson

Sound Design
Beauxregard Neylon

Audiobook Narration
Paul Elite

Audiobook Editing
Kerman Eckes

Captioning
Catie Pfeifer
Vicki Way Kipp

Translation Services
University of Wisconsin-Madison Cultural Linguistic Services

Educator Support Materials
Mia Forslund

Web
John Vieth
Erika Kachama-Nkoy
Tim Schneider

Design
Charles Barrows

Additional Production Support
Philip Ashby
Georgia Beaverson
John Dachik
Luisa de Vogel
Ian Glodich
Becky Marburger
Tom Micksch
Jessie Nixon
Ann Wilkens

Special Thanks
Tia Nelson, Andy Adams, Parwat Regmi and the Outrider Foundation

Arik Kriha, Lisa Marine, Sheri Dolfen, Sally Jacobs, and the Wisconsin Historical Society

Catherine Phan and the University of Wisconsin-Madison Archives

Raul Galvan and Milwaukee PBS

Emily Reynolds, Ann Swenson, and the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison

Executive Producer
Megan Monday

Director of Education
Alyssa Tsagong

Director of Television
Jon Miskowski

Story Advisors

Pam Brandt and her students
Lowell Elementary School
Madison, WI
(2020)

Pam Dempsey
James C. Wright Middle School
Madison, WI
(2021)

Lisa Husnick
Lodi Elementary School
Lodi, WI
(2021)

Karen Ohm and her students Gaylord A. Nelson Educational Center
Clear Lake, WI
(2020)

Kacey Paulson and her students Gaylord A. Nelson Educational Center
Clear Lake, WI
(2020)

Chris Petersen
Gaylord A. Nelson Educational Center
Clear Lake, WI
(2020)

Susan Plewa
Gaenslen School
Milwaukee, WI
(2021)

Beth Weiland and her students Gaylord A. Nelson Educational Center
Clear Lake, WI
(2020)

Jay Carlson

Lynne Cherry

Bill Christofferson

Sheila Terman Cohen

Liese Dart

Bruce Fritz

Brian Hamilton

Bill Meadows

Edward Norton

Adam Rome

Mark Weller

Fred Wessel

Funders

Gisela Brogan

The Single Step Foundation

The Focus Fund for Education

Friends of PBS Wisconsin