• BHG Lecture Series 2023-2024 has a NEW DAY! 2nd Wednesdays of each month, September to May •

Questions about attending? Contact


Hybrid talks occur at 7pm on the 2nd Wednesday of each month, September to May

Attend in-person in the Museum or Zoom in (links below)!

May 8, 2024 – 7:00 pm

Badger Stories to tell, Culled from Forty Years of Research and Writing, presented by Michael Goc

As any researcher knows, no matter what the subject, you find something interesting while you are looking for something else. After forty years of historical research, Michael Goc has encountered many an interesting story that he wasn’t looking for. Researching Badger history has been no exception.  For his talk, Michael will share some accidental discoveries involving fire on the Sauk Prairie, the birth of the Progressive political movement, and fishing on Lake Wisconsin. His cast of characters includes Agostin Haraszthy, Robert La Follette, Robert Seibecker, and Ted Weigand combined into a mix of fire, water and politics—all with a link to Badger.

Michael Goc is the award-winning author of Powder, People and Place: Badger Ordnance Works and the Sauk Prairie (see cover image at left). He has long been involved with BHG and still serves as Newsletter Editor. Mike is also very active with the Adams County Historical Society.

Image: Cover of Michael Goc’s 2002 book. Photo composite of prairie grass in autumn (bottom) by Paula Bunch and a BAAP aerial (top) from the Badger History Group Collection.

September 13, 2023 – 7:00 pm

Native Art and Culture at Maa Wákąčąk, presented by Melanie Tallmadge-Sainz (Ho Chunk).

Melanie is a visual artist, an art educator, and the founding Director of Little Eagle Arts Foundation (LEAF). She was born in Baraboo and raised in the Wisconsin Dells area. Her parents Roger Tallmadge (Dakota) and Bernadine Miner Tallmadge (Ho-Chunk) worked at the “Powder Plant” in the late 1940s and later operated the Winnebago Public Indian Museum from 1953 to 2000. Since 2019 LEAF has leased the old firehouse on the Ho-Chunk tribal land called Maa Wakacak (Ho-Chunk place name meaning sacred land). Along with being a working art studio, Maa Wakacak Art Studio hosts a variety of cultural gatherings for tribal members, public pop-up and Fall Art Tour art markets, educational workshops, and tours for visitors throughout the spring, summer, and fall months. Melanie will share her journey as a cultural arts professional and a creative community builder through images and stories.

Image caption: Melanie is in front of a ciporoke, holding one of her hand-crafted bags by the Maa Wakacak Art Studio. (Image: Beth Skogen Photography)


October 11, 2023 – 7:00 pm

Badger Contamination and Cleanup, presented by Joel Janssen.

Joel is a hydrogeologist for SpecPro, Inc. and oversees the sampling program for the four groundwater contaminant plumes and monitoring of the closed landfills at the former Badger Army Ammunition Plant. Joel will speak about how the cleanup of Badger has progressed since it’s 1997 closure. It will include the subjects of the buildings demolished, soil/groundwater remediation, and land restoration. Joel graduated from Winona State University in 1991 with a BS in Geology and Math minor.  Since 2002, he has worked at the former Plant area as an Army contractor. Over the past 21 years, he has conducted dozens of soil and groundwater investigations at Badger. He’s  given technical presentations at Army public meetings for 18 years.

Image caption: Old Acid Area soil remediation in 2007. (Image: SpecPro, Inc.)

November 8, 2023 – 7:00 pm

Converging Histories: Community, Conservation, and the Badger Reuse Process, 1997-2002, presented by Curt Meine.

More than twenty years ago, a diverse group of community members and organizational representatives came together to try to forge a vision for the reuse of the decommissioned Badger Army Ammunition Plant lands. The Badger reuse process succeeded despite the complex legacies inherent in the landscape and the quite varied perspectives among those interested in its future. In retrospect, that success built upon and reflected particular strengths in Sauk County and Wisconsin’s conservation community, trends that were emerging in conservation more generally, and other collaborative land stewardship efforts in Wisconsin and beyond. Curt will look back at the reuse process and place it in this broader context.

Curt is a conservation biologist, environmental historian, and writer based here in Sauk County. He serves as Senior Fellow with the Aldo Leopold Foundation and the Center for Humans and Nature; as Research Associate with the International Crane Foundation; and as Adjunct Associate Professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He has authored and edited several books, including the award-winning biography Aldo Leopold: His Life and Work (1988/2010) and The Driftless Reader (2017).

Image caption: The Farmer’s Memorial, remembering the 80 families evicted in 1942, stands in front of a young orchard of Badger apple trees planted on Maa Wakacak and original Plant guard house in background. (Image: Heather Sonntag)

December 13, 2023 – 7:00 pm

Stewardship of Maa Wákąčąk, presented by Randy Poelma

In the 1900’s the land that the Ho-Chunk Nation call Maa Wákąčąk (pronounced Mah-WAH-kun-chunk), or the Sacred Land, became the Badger Army Ammunition Plant, one of the largest ammunition facilities owned and used by the US military. It was decommissioned, torn down, and land divided up and returned to local entities. Approximately 1,550 acres of that land was returned to the Ho-Chunk Nation.

Randy will provide an overview of the land management and restoration work taking place to remove unwanted infrastructure and bring back native plants, animals, and insects.

Randy oversees multiple environmental programs within the Ho-Chunk Nation including the EPA Clean Water Act Section 106, EPA Clean Air Act Section 103 and EPA CERCLA Section 128a programs. He also administers multiple programs and projects related to habitat restoration, invasive species management, storm-water management, NEPA compliance, permitting and environmental education. Randy provides support and guidance to leadership on environmental issues and works to raise awareness about the Ho-Chunk Nation and their programs to protect resources for future generations.

Image: Smoke rises from a controlled burn on Maa Wákąčąk in April 2023 (Heather Sonntag)

January 10, 2024 – 7:00 pm

Bugs, Donald, Daffy and Adolph: WWII Propaganda Animation, presented by Mike Mossman

Cartoonists and animators on both sides of this conflict rallied their characters to the serious business of war. Guided and subsidized by governments and their contractors, they pulled out all stops to inspire patriotism, demonize and caricature the enemy, build and assuage fears, advocate personal sacrifice, and more. We’ll view lots of examples from the U.S but also other countries, running the gamut from funny and thought provoking, to campy, dark, and disturbingly racist.

Mike is a Baraboo native and longtime conservationist, ecologist and historian. He is a founding member of the Badger History Group in 1998, initially launched to record oral histories of BAAP employees and those family members displaced in 1942, and also organized the Inside the Fence photography project after decommission. Mike  is the current president of the Board, and still continues bird and small mammal surveys at Badger (especially at Maa Wákącąk).

Image: From the opening salvo of The Ductators (1942)

February 14, 2024 – 7:00 pm

Ball Powder Production, presented by Frank Wolf

Ball Powder is the propellant for most small arms ammunition used by the military. In this talk, Frank will explain how Ball Powder was made at Badger in the old days, including a description of Ball Powder and the manufacturing process that was used at Badger. Materials, utilities and personnel required will also be explained along with production rates, costs and time requirements. There will be a lot of pictures of Plant buildings and equipment. The talk will finish with a short review of current Ball Powder production in the United States. This is the 4th talk in his series of BOW/BAAP manufacture of powderless propellant.

Frank is a veteran of nearly 6 decades in the energetic material industry. Trained as a chemical engineer, he was BAAP Chief Modernization Engineer at the Badger Plant for 31 years. Frank is Treasurer for the BHG Board of Directors.

Image: Close up of Ball Powder (insert right), and US soldier wearing a helmet that reads “Mr. Goin-Home!!” aims an M-16 in Vietnam. BAAP was the world’s biggest producer of Ball Powder during the Vietnam war. (Photos from public domain)

March 13, 2024 – 7:00 pm

The Kingston Cemetery and Free Thinkers Hall, presented by Orie Eilertson

During the 1840’s in Germany, there was a religious revolution among the Lutheran and Catholic congregations that hoped to make Germany more democratic and free from authoritarian control. They were called Free Congregations. In 1848 the ruling Monarch put down the political unrest, jailing many leaders of the revolt and putting them to death. Many of the most learned and skillful people decided to leave. They are sometimes called “The 48ers.” In 1848, a large group of German refugees reached the Sauk Prairie including Karl Duerr and Karl Naffz. They both settled in the Town of Kingston on the shores of the Wisconsin River and each built a log house. Orie Eilertson will talk about these two leaders, who started a Free Congregation, the foundation of Free Thinkers Hall. He will also touch on the Kingston Cemetery and those resting there.

Orie has long been involved with stewarding and cataloguing collections, first as curator at the Tripp Museum and then for BHG. He is a former minister, is BHG Associate Archivist, and is currently Vice President of the BHG Board.

Image: Art Meschefske at common grave of his four former coworkers who died in the Nitroglycerin Storehouse explosion on 19 July 1945. Kingston Cemetery, August 1998. (BHG Collection, BHG.1999.005.0008).

April 10, 2024 – 7:00 pm

Buildings on the BOW Site in January 1942, presented by Verlyn Mueller

Verlyn will be discussing several farmstead properties that were on the Sauk Prairie before the Army acquired the land to build the Badger Ordnance Works plant. This talk will focus on the people, their land and buildings, what they did on their property, and perhaps what happened to it with construction of the BOW. This is a short description, but the stories are anything but short. There may even be some genealogical surprises! (Hint: These farms were not operated in isolation.)

Verlyn is Archivist of the Badger History Group collection and  Director/Curator of the Museum of Badger Army Ammunition. He has long been involved with BHG (salvaging and stewarding its rich collections), and served on its Board for many years. A committed historian, he is also devoted to the genealogical research of farm families and BOW/BAAP employees. In 2009, Verlyn received the Sauk County Historical Society’s William Canfield History Award.

Image: Edward and Freida Shimniok’s farm along the East Sauk Road, at the base of the South Range in 1942. (Photo credit: US Army, Assessor album from the Badger History Group Collection)