Local author wins Moonbeam Award
Amherst Junction author, Susan Tupper, was recently awarded a gold medal for her book, “Fran and Frederick Hamerstrom: Wildlife Conservation Pioneers,” from Moonbeam Children’s Book Awards.
The book won top honors in the Environmental Issues Category. The Moonbeam Awards, selected by a panel of educators, librarians, booksellers and book reviewers, are intended to recognize exemplary children’s books and their creators.
In May of this year, the book was also named a finalist for the 2017 Next Generation Indie Book Awards in three non-fiction categories: Biography, Juvenile Non-Fiction and Science/Nature/Environment.
The Indie Book Awards are the largest nationwide non-profit awards program and are awarded annually to independent publishers and self-published authors by leaders of the Indie book publishing industry and major publishing houses.
Tupper’s book, a lively portrayal of the groundbreaking Wisconsin wildlife conservationist couple, was published by the Wisconsin Historical Society Press in 2016. It follows the lives of the Hamerstroms beginning with their childhoods in New England, where debutante Fran Hamerstrom rebelled against “ladylike” behavior and escaped to climb trees and collect insects and bugs, while Frederick Hamerstrom grew up in more modest circumstances, working through high school and eventually attending Dartmouth College.
Their chance meeting on a blind date in 1929 led to marriage and a lifelong bonding of interest in wildlife conservation. In 1931, Frederick Hamerstrom heard Aldo Leopold speak in New York City, and as a result he began studying wildlife management techniques at Iowa State College in Ames.
After graduation, Frederick Hamerstrom accepted a job in Necedah, working with Franklin Roosevelt’s Resettlement Administration. His job was to draw the first maps of the area that later became the Necedah National Wildlife Refuge.
In 1938, they both became graduate students under Leopold at the University of Wisconsin, and began studying prairie chickens and raptors on the Buena Vista Marsh, work that focused on habitat preservation to save the rapidly diminishing populations of prairie chickens.
In their decades on the marsh, they lived in rough old farmhouses, forsaking modern comforts of indoor plumbing and central heating, and inviting many others to share their accommodations and help with their research.
The book is filled with interesting anecdotes of their lives, as Tupper benefited from many conversations with folks who knew them, especially their daughter Elva Hamerstrom Paulson, who provided many photos, drawings and family stories of a unique upbringing.
The book is for sale locally at Kindred Spirits Bookstore in Stevens Point, Schmeekle Reserve, The Hive in Amherst, Judah Studios in Nelsonville, Dragonwings Bookstore in Waupaca as well as directly from the Wisconsin Historical Society Press, and online through Amazon.com.