100th Anniversary Celebration in the La Crosse District

The Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge (refuge) is celebrating our 100th anniversary! Please join us for a FREE open house-style special event with presentations and activities for people of all ages! 

Event activities take place indoors and outdoors. The event will be held rain or shine, though some activities will be cancelled in inclement weather.  

Rain Plan 

We've decided to move most of the event activities indoors on Saturday. Partner outreach tables and the birthday ceremony/ribbon cutting will be moved inside to our cold storage building in the maintenance yard north of the Visitor Center. River Valley Raptors will move inside to the Visitor Center exhibit room and will share space with the arts and crafts station, if possible.  Boat tour participants will be notified by 8am on Saturday as to whether their tour will be cancelled and our partners at the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources will make a "day of" call on whether it's safe to do shocking demonstrations. They won't be able to shock in rainy weather, and if it's not safe, will bring the boat to the cold storage building to chat about there. All other activities will remain as originally planned. Please see the RAIN PLAN MAPS for more details!

Please bring an umbrella or raincoat and shoes you don't mind getting a little wet or muddy. We're excited to celebrate, rain or shine! 

There will be a few US Fish and Wildlife Service vehicles to help shuttle any visitors who might not be able to walk to the cold storage building. It is about a five minute walk from visitor parking. 

Activities at the La Crosse District Visitor Center: 

N5727 County Road Z, Onalaska, WI 54650

10am - 2pm: Come meet our conservation partners! Stop by the cold storage building to learn more about conservation partnerships on the refuge as you interact with partner booths hosting activities for kids or adults. Look for visits from our mascot, Puddles the Blue Goose! 

Stop-in the Visitor Center to enjoy arts and crafts and vote on your favorite photo in an exhibition of the 100th Anniversary Photo Contest winners. Grab a River Rat Relay challenge card at the front desk to earn a free patch after visiting five locations on the refuge!

Arts and crafts: 10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. in the exhibit room. Make a coffee filter butterfly and learn more about the importance of pollinators!

Live animal programs (seating is first-come, first-served):

River Valley Raptors: 10:05 a.m., 10:40 a.m., 1:00 p.m., 1:30 p.m. in the visitor center exhibit room. Throughout time, raptors have been renowned for their ferocity, majesty, and hunting prowess. Join us for a short program and meet some of our local winged legends and the talented team who care for them! Look for them in the big tent outside!

Coulee Region Humane Society: 10:30 a.m. and 11:15 a.m. inside the visitor center multipurpose room. Injured wildlife need very specific care. Our friends at the Coulee Region Humane Society are our local heroes in helping them heal! Meet Tater Tot the opossum, Flower the skunk, and discover more about wildlife rehab in our community! 

12:00 p.m. in the cold storage building: Birthday Celebration Ceremony and Visitor Center Dedication as a Great River Road Interpretive Center, followed by birthday cake! We are so thankful we can celebrate this big birthday together! Hear from Refuge staff and partners about the importance of this milestone and join the Mississippi River Parkway Commission to dedicate the Visitor Center as a Great River Road Interpretive Center! Stay for a piece of cake (while it lasts)! 

1:00 p.m. Audubon Upper Mississippi River history presentation inside the visitor center multipurpose room. Audubon Society members were very influential in the creation of our National Wildlife Refuge System and some of the first federal laws protecting wildlife! This legacy continues as we collaborate to restore the unique floodplain forest habitat on the refuge. Join Audubon Upper Mississippi River Director of Conservation, Dr. Dale Gentry, to learn more about our shared history, collaborations on the Mississippi River and Audubon’s work across key migration pathways.  

Activities at the Fred Funk Boat Landing:

*RAIN PLAN - Boat tour registrants will be notified by 8am on Saturday, June 22 if their tours will be cancelled. Our partners at the WI DNR will make a "morning of" call about the safety of shocking demonstrations. If unsafe, the fish shocking boat will be displayed at the cold storage building near the partner activity tables. Please see the above "RAIN PLAN" heading for more info and maps. 

W8023 County Rd ZB, Onalaska, WI 54650 Please park at the Swarthout Park parking lots located on County Road ZB across from the boat landing.

*Boat tours: 9:00 a.m., 10:15 a.m., 1:30 p.m. *Advance registration is required for boat tours and seating is limited. Join refuge staff and volunteers on a short ride on a large pontoon boat moving through the Mississippi River backwaters to see beautiful plants and wildlife who call the refuge “home!” Please plan for about an hour for the boat ride including boarding. Please contact Stephanie Edeler to register: Stephanie_Edeler@fws.gov, (507) 494-6221. Life jackets are required and will be provided.

Electroshock fishing demonstrations by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources: 10:15 a.m., 11:15 a.m., 1:15 p.m.  More than 119 species of fish live in the Upper Mississippi River! Join staff from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WI DNR) to see some of these fish up close! Learn more about how the WI DNR and other agencies sample fish and the diversity of habitats used by fish species in the Mississippi River. Please plan about 30 minutes to enjoy these demonstrations. No registration needed.

Many thanks to our event sponsors: Audubon Upper Mississippi River, the National Audubon Society and the Friends of the Refuge – Mississippi River Pools 7 & 8 for their generous support in providing refreshments, programming and logistical support for the event.

We’d also like to thank our event partners: We’d also like to thank our event partners for their help in hosting activities and logistics: Audubon Upper Mississippi River, Brice Prairie Conservation Association, Brice Prairie First Responders, Coulee Region Humane Society, Dynamic Lifecycle Innovations, Ducks Unlimited, Friends of the Refuge – Mississippi River Pools 7 & 8, Genoa National Fish Hatchery, Ho-Chunk Nation Department of Natural Resources, Izaak Walton League, Midwest Fisheries Center, Mississippi River Parkway Commission, Mississippi Valley Conservancy, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, Operation Pollination, Partners for Fish and Wildlife, River Valley Raptors, Trempealeau National Wildlife Refuge, US Army Corps of Engineers – St. Paul District, US Geological Survey – Upper Midwest Environmental Science Center, US Fish and Wildlife Service Law Enforcement and the many Friends and Refuge volunteers who have helped lead event activities. The partnerships we build together are a big piece of the rich history of this refuge and a critical piece of our next 100 years to come!

The partnerships we build together are a big piece of the rich history of this refuge and a critical piece of our next 100 years to come!

Event date and time
Event location name
Upper Miss Refuge La Crosse District Visitor Center


N5727 County Road ZOnalaska,54650WI