Prairie Springs Science Center

The Prairie Springs Center and Prairie Springs Endowment Fund will transform the way students experience learning at UWL.

An education that is truly transformational involves learning experiences that give students hands-on interaction and experience with places, people and technologies they'll use in the workforce.

A generous, $2 million donation

$2 million gift creates endowment fund, names the new science center

With this generous $2 million gift to UW-La Crosse, the new science labs building will be named the Prairie Springs Science Center. The gift creates the Prairie Springs Endowment Fund to support the areas Paul Fleckenstein designated in his trust:

  • environmental studies and education
  • wildlife habitat protection
  • wildlife protection
  • conservation
  • ecological technology

New center impacting student research



Prairie Springs Phase 1 includes:

  • 36 instructional labs
  • 23 research labs
    • 3 laboratories for cadaver-based study of human anatomy & physiology
    • microscope imaging facility, including scanning electron microscope
    • wet labs for aquatic science and aquatic toxicology
    • facility for nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy
    • laboratories for food microbiology and nutrition

Labs will support these programs: biology, biochemistry, chemistry, earth science, geography, microbiology, physics, and the River Studies Center and Radiation Center.

Prairie Springs Excellence Award- Now Open

Applications are now closed for the second annual Prairie Springs Instructor and Student Excellence Awards. 

These $1,000 awards are intended to encourage UWL instructors and undergraduates to continue the environmental education and conservation work that were the passion of the trustee, the late Paul Fleckenstein, and to inspire others to do the same.

Learn more and apply now:

Why is this very generous gift being given to UW-La Crosse?

The donation is being given for a number of reasons, says Carolyn Scott. One is the university’s outstanding students. "UW-La Crosse is attracting some of the brightest and most prepared students from our state and region," she says.

We're following the lead of others who have invested in experiential learning at UWL - Carolyn Scott

Carolyn and her husband, Jay, also point to the university’s outstanding and caring faculty and staff. "The culture of quality instruction within a caring community of faculty and staff is key to a student’s success," notes Jay.

The couple say the gift also thanks state taxpayers for their commitment to the new state-of-the-art facility. "This allows us to support, through an endowment fund, the significant investment the people of the state of Wisconsin have made in the new science labs building," says Jay.

In addition to enhancing the state’s investment, Jay says it fulfills one of Fleckenstein’s dream. "The gift allows us to fulfill one of the goals Paul identified within his trust which was to have an impact on environmental education and conservation efforts throughout the State of Wisconsin," he says.

Carolyn adds that the gift complements generous gifts already given to the UWL Foundation. "We’re following the lead of others who have invested in experiential learning at UWL," she explains. "In particular, we’re able to add to the wonderful challenge grant by Ron and Jane Rada that is generating more than $1 million to support experiential learning opportunities across the campus."

Professor Emeritus Ron Rada, and his wife, Jane, pledged $100,000 to the university as a challenge grant to support experiential learning opportunities across campus. The challenge, still in progress, has already raised more than $700,000.

Study areas and labs are spread throughout the building.

The Prairie Springs Endowment Fund will impact the following areas:

Undergraduate student research, experiential learning and internships—

  • Research fellowships or internships in environmental studies, wildlife habitat protection and conservation.
  • Research fellowships or internships for students with a minor in environmental studies.
  • Research fellowships in ecological technology development in cooperation with the Center for Entrepreneurship & Innovation and the College of Science and Health.
  • Research fellowships through the River Studies Center focused on rivers, streams, lakes and wetlands in the State of Wisconsin.
  • Experiential learning opportunities in environmental education within the School of Education for elementary education majors with a general science minor.
  • Scholarships for student participation in regional or national conferences and meetings, or experiential learning activities that are consistent with the purpose of the Prairie Springs Endowment Fund.
  • Research fellowships and internships conducted in partnership with the Nature Conservancy at the Mukwonago Watershed, the Urban Ecology Center, Milwaukee Riverkeeper, International Crane Foundation and other organizations supported by Prairie Springs: The Paul Fleckenstein Trust.

Scholarships and academic recognition—

  • Scholarships for students with demonstrated financial need who intend to pursue a career consistent with the purpose of the Prairie Springs Endowment Fund.
  • Merit scholarships for students who intend to pursue a career consistent with the purpose of the Prairie Springs Endowment Fund.
  • Establishment of the Prairie Springs Award of Excellence for outstanding achievement by faculty and students in the areas of environmental studies and education, wildlife habitat protection, wildlife protection, conservation, and ecological technology.
  • Honorarium to support a Prairie Springs Distinguished Environmental Sciences Lecture Series.

Name opportunities

The following naming opportunities are available as part of the new science labs building. Additional naming opportunities will be available in phase two of the project which will include numerous classrooms but the details and timing are not available at this time.

Room Donation
Building name Complete
River Studies Center Complete
Radiation Center $250,000
Lab prep areas $10,000-

research bays

Small labs $25,000
Medium labs $50,000
Large labs $100,000

This project received a major boost from donors and UWL alum

"This is a transformational gift for the university and we hope it will encourage others to consider investing in UW-La Crosse."

- Greg Reichert, Vice Chancellor for UWL Advancement and president of the UWL Foundation