Yearly Events at Retzer Nature Center

Each year, the Friends of Retzer sponsor many major public events at the Retzer Nature Center. All of these events are family-friendly indoor and outdoor activities. Events at Retzer Nature Center are scheduled by the Waukesha County Park System, and details of these activities are posted on the county events calendar.

Apple Harvest Fest

Enjoy a fun filled day of shopping at the apple market, children’s games and hands-on activities, horse-drawn hayrides, scarecrow competition, hiking prairie trails, viewing wildlife and plant exhibits, a craft fair, delicious food and live music.

The Friends support the Waukesha County Parks System at the Retzer Apple Harvest Fest in two ways. We sponsor the Hayride and organize an indoor Silent Auction and Used Book Sale. The Apple Harvest Fest is held in September.


The Retzer Howl-O-Ween is a great scare-free option for the entire family.  There’s entertainment and activities including a guided night hike, DJ dance, crafts and games, children’s activities and more.

The Friends support the Waukesha County Parks System at the Howl-O-Ween by assisting with indoor activities and outdoor trail hikes. The Howl-O-ween event is held in late October.

Annual Photography Contest

The photo contest is open to any amateur photographer.  Photographs must be taken at Retzer Nature Center or on Friends of Retzer-sponsored trips.

Please check out the Friends of Retzer Nature Center Photography Contest Rules for more information.

Winter Janboree

Janboree celebrates Wisconsin’s winter wonderland. During this community event, one can hike Retzer’s trails on foot or on snowshoes, and participate in various children’s activities and crafts.

The Friends support the Waukesha County Parks System at Winter Janboree by assisting with activities held at the nature center. Winter Janboree is held in late January.

Wild Winter Nights

This event offers guided night hikes on Retzer’s trails, sky watching with telescopes, a planetarium show, and indoor children’s activities and crafts. Snowshoe rental is free.

The Friends support the Waukesha County Parks System at Wild Winter Nights by assisting with indoor and outdoor activities. Wild Winter Nights is held in February.

Earth Week

Activities include a canoe outing, GPS aided hiking, birds of prey program, bird watch activity, tree and wildflower hike, wiggle with worms, campfire songs and s’mores, and a magical mystery tour.

The Friends support the Waukesha County Parks System during Earth Week by assisting with several scheduled events at the nature center. Earth Week is celebrated in late April.

Field Trips

The Friends of Retzer sponsor field trips of interest to our members. Watch our newsletter for upcoming trips. Some recent trips include:

  1. UW-Waukesha Field Station
  2. Wildlife in Need Center, Waukesha County
  3. Tirimbina Rain Forest, Costa Rica
  4. Crane Foundation, Baraboo
  5. Aldo Leopold Foundation
  6. UW-Madison Arborteum

GPS Challenge

Retzer Teaching Naturalists enjoy leading groups to their favorite spots around Retzer Nature Center. Organized hikes with Retzer GPS units teach participants how to use electronic mapping devices to locate these favorite places. > Learn More

Camera Club

The Retzer Camera Club is independent of both Waukesha County and the Friends of Retzer. The 3 organizations cooperate on projects. The camera club meets monthly, with instructional programs, sharing/critque of member’s photographs, discussion of equipment and techniques, and opportunities for taking photographs at Retzer Nature Center and other nature areas.

Camera Club Meetings
WHEN: First Wednesday of each month
TIME: 7:00 PM
WHERE: Retzer Nature Center

Annual Meeting

Each year the Friends convene a general meeting of all members in accordance with our bylaws to fulfill the requirements of a tax exempt organization. The financial data and activities of the past year are reviewed. Approximately 1/3 of our board of directors is elected, or re-elected, by the general membership. Tradition has combined this meeting with a chili dinner and a relevant speaker.