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Aline Puente Fears Buried at Sunset on Display at Central Library Naturalist in Residence 2023Madison Public Library’s popular Naturalist-in-Residence program returned for its second year in September 2023! In partnership with Madison Parks, nature-based programs for all ages took place in libraries, parks and natural areas across the city of Madison from September 1-30, 2023

Although the Naturalist-in-Residence program wrapped up at the end of September, really amazing things sometimes live on! We wanted to thank Qwantese for her fantastic leadership during this residency, and for sharing her skills, talents, charm, wit, grace and deep knowledge with us.

Over the course of more than a dozen events, nearly 200 people got to meet and learn from Qwantese. Two of these events were Nature Writing and Meditative Walks to Edna Taylor Conservation Park and Heritage Prairie, where Qwantese encouraged participants to study and write about nature. The results? A stunning painting created by Alina Puente called Fears Buried at Sunset, and a collection of short poems that Qwantese combined to create two collaborative poems - one for each walk location. You can view the painting in person on the 2nd floor stairwell at Central Library alongside all of the poems on nature written during these walks.

2023 Naturalist: Qwantese Dourese Winters

Qwantese Dourese Winters Madison Public Library Naturalist-in-Residence 2023Qwantese Dourese Winters is a doula, writer, agriculturist, and mixed media artist based in Madison, Wisconsin. Her work is centered around inspiring black folks to connect with the land, and heal from land-based trauma through the use of joyful engagement with nature, and land practices. With a deep appreciation for food sovereignty, and agriculture Qwantese incorporates these elements into her doula practice, earning her the moniker The Food Doula. You may also know Qwantese from PBS Wisconsin’s Let’s Grow Stuff program, where she appears regularly to help folks learn to grow their own vegetables, herbs and other good stuff. From empowering mothers to connect with the land through nourishing foodways, teaching adults how to grow their own food, or showing children how to make the perfect mud pie, her diverse skill set and unique approach aims to create a positive impact in the Madison area and beyond. Qwantese believes that nature and its bounty are for everyone to enjoy and aims to give marginalized people the tools to dissolve years of exclusion and barriers to the outdoors in order to get outside and fall in love with nature just as she did.

Questions? Contact (link sends email).

About the ThemeRooted in Nature image by Alina Puente for Madison Public Library's Naturalist-in-Residence program 2023

Rooted in Nature

Qwantese shares why she chose the theme in her own words:

"The theme "Rooted In Nature" is my way of extending a heartfelt invitation to all those who have felt detached from the land or who have lost their wonder when engaging with nature. Throughout my life, I confronted stereotypes that discouraged me from embracing nature and partaking in outdoor activities - these activities were labeled as "white," and were seemingly in conflict with my identity as a black person. Yet, amidst these challenges, my connection to nature remained undeniable and I found moments that brought me to life and create a profound connection to nature within me. When I later discovered and delved into my Gullah Geechee heritage (passed down from my grandfather), I was able to see that my family's history included things like growing our own food and crafting medicines from the natural surroundings. This filled me with a profound sense of belonging, and the revelation helped me understand that my roots are inherently intertwined with the land, and that nature is an indispensable part of my history. I hope that the Rooted in Nature theme serves as a gentle call, urging each person to come and be rooted—to reconnect with the land, to embrace their heritage, and to rediscover the awe-inspiring wonder that resides within each of us when we are one with nature."

Rooted in Nature Art

Created by Alina Puente

The Rooted in Nature theme is brought to life visually by artist Alina Puente, who created limited edition posters in English, Spanish and Hmong that can be picked up in any Madison Public Library location, including the Dream Bus, beginning on September 1. Puente is an Afro-Latina immigrant, who is known for her use of bold hues and textures in her visual art. Her work is influenced by Abstract Expressionism - in particular, the work of artists like Cándido Bidó, Jean-Michel Basquiat, and Mark Rothko. 

Book Lists

Naturalist Book List for Adults

Let's get rooted in nature! Join Madison Public Library's Naturalist-in-Residence for a series of nature experiences this fall aimed at repairing the roots of our relationships with nature, welcoming everyone into natural spaces, and exploring the many ways to incorporate nature into our daily lives. 

Qwantese's Picks | Foraging | Gardening | Environmental Justice

Naturalist Book List for Kids and Teens

Picture Books | Fiction | Non-fiction | | Graphic NovelsTeen Fiction | Teen Non-fiction 

Why A Naturalist?

The goal of the  Naturalist-in-Residency project is to encourage our community to explore, learn, and reflect upon our natural world and their place in it, through the guiding vision of an experienced or emerging local naturalist.

Past Years

John Newman

2022 Residency Theme: Nature is for Everyone


This program was made possible in part by generous support from: