About us

Friends of Starkweather Creek (FSC) was started in February 2002 by a group of concerned citizens who wanted to promote the rejuvenation of Starkweather Creek. Over the years, FSC has organized creek clean-ups and celebrations to raise awareness and pride in the creek. We also actively advocate for responsible development in the watershed and for commitments from city government to improve the creek.

Board of Directors

Carl Landsness (Co-Chair)
David Pulkowski (Co-Chair)
Theresa Vander Woude (Secretary)
Doug Johnson (Treasurer)
Dea Larsen Converse (Co-Chair Emeritus)
Lance Green (Co-Chair Emeritus)
Sean Gere
Paul Noeldner
James Winkleman
Jeff Steele


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Dea and her husband on the creek after a cleanup event

Dea Larsen Converse

Dea Larsen Converse has over 20 years of experience in the field of environmental protection. She worked at the Environmental Protection Agency in Washington, D.C. and as the Director of the Wisconsin Coastal Management Program. Through her business, DLC Consulting, Dea has worked as an editor for the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies and as a science writer for the Clean Lakes Alliance. She lives with her kids, crazy dog, and husband in a beautiful old house near the shores of Lake Monona.


Sean Gere

SeaSean out identifying some plantsn out on a tree climb with Gere Tree Care, during a summer program FSC partnered up with the Goodman Community Center on.


Lance Green

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Lance enjoying a paddle on the creek.

Lance has been lovin life here on Madison’s East side, walking, biking and paddling along the creek for over 30 years. He’s taught math and science in high schools and college, ran a pilot recycling pick-up program for Madison, given 150 talks on recycling to all ages as “Mr Green Genes,” worked two years at a nuclear weapons plant to eventually shut it down and for 20 years administered a Wisconsin DNR program to reduce releases of ozone-depleting gases. A lifelong peace and environmental organizer and activist, Lance 
now serves on the Sustainable Madison Committee and Friends of Starkweather Creek Board.


Carl Landsness

Carl on the creek during a tour
Carl on a creek tour

Carl is a Madtown and Starkweather native son, prodigal son, placemaker, peacemaker, troublemaker, recovering analytic, reformed rescuer and reborn steward (making amends for massive mischief all over the watershed in his 50’s/60’s youth).
After 30 years away (seduced by the glitter, glamour and gold of west coast hi-tech yuppiedom), he returned in 02, celebrating half and grieving half the changes he saw (outside and inside).
Paddling up the creek (with a paddle) for the first time in 04 (with FSC founders Doug Johnson and John Steines) did more to help Carl heal from deep dark depression (his reason for returning to Madison) than any pill or professional ever did.
He now sees nature (especially Starkweather) as a key vehicle for helping heal people and place in win/win ways… especially down and dirty clean-ups and childlike play: i.e. weaving the patience, wisdom and humility of the wounded elder with the wonder, awe and glee of the innocent child… the perfect antidote for Nature Deficit Disorder.


Paul Noeldner

Paul has been passionately involved with the Friends group for about the last four years, contributing his uniquely diverse skills in inspiring and enthusiastic ways. He is master naturalist, expert birder and the powerhouse behind a hugely successful collaboration of Madison Parks, Madison Audubon, Friends of Urban Nature (FUN) and various community centers and friends groups throughout the city… including 3rd Saturday outings with FSC.

David Pulkowski

Dave's out on the mountainsDave helps out with a little bit of everything. He is always searching out people who are passionate who enjoy sharing their skill with other people, especially kids; since he is one of the instigators for the Watershed Wanderers that has occurred for the last two years. If he is not, out running all over the eastside of Madison, or bike commuting through the streets, you can catch him outside rockclimbing out at Devils Lake or somewhere in the mountains.

Theresa Vander Woude

Theresa first paddled Starkweather Creek in fall of 2016 (on a Bird & Nature Outing) and was inspired to get more involved. She contributes to the Friends’ marketing and fundraising efforts. Theresa’s professional experience is in environmental non-profit communication and digital media and she is currently a graduate student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She most enjoys exploring the spring-fed east branch of the creek and getting to meet new people at creek outings.

James Winkelman

James was first exposed to Friends of Starkweather Creek through the Goodman Community Center.
During the summers of 2018 and 2019 he led the watershed wonders and wanderers group with a group of his students.  Now a graduate student at UW-Madison’s Nelson Institute and Soil Science Department, James’ goal is to build connections with community through shared experiences on the watershed, exploring all it has to offer. If he’s not exploring the outdoors you will probably find him playing guitar/ukulele and cheering for the Buffalo Bills.

Jeff Steele

Jeff is a water quality specialist with UW-Madison who is passionate about native plants and connecting people to nature. He enjoys leading walks with Madison’s Friends of Urban Nature (FUN) and is interested in restoring the Starkweather watershed to its former glory. Jeff hopes that by sharing his knowledge of ecology with the community that it will bring awareness to the beauty and importance of the natural world.

Water Advocacy