Alex Booker Announced as the 2024 Naturalist-in-Residence for Madison Public Library

MADISON, WI – Madison Public Library and Madison Parks are proud to introduce Alex Booker as the 2024 Naturalist-in-Residence!

Booker is a Madison native who has always loved the outdoors. He said that his passion for nature started from a young age, and that farms and gardening have been at the center of many of his experiences.

“One of my most fond nature memories is going to my family farm in Mississippi, being amongst family, and riding in the back of my great-grandpa’s pickup truck,” said Booker. “There were different types of critters down there and bigger bugs, too! I’ve always enjoyed exploring different types of wildlife and plant life.”

The theme of Booker’s residency is “Find Your Way Back to Nature” and will focus on ways to reconnect with the ecosystems that surround us. Naturalist programs will include nature walks, tea blending, flower arranging, sound baths, and more, and will take place in parks and libraries across the city. Specific programs will be announced on Madison Public Library’s website in July.

“My goal is to help people hear the messages nature is trying to give us by exploring traditional ways of connecting to the land,” said Booker. “The lessons we learn by observing the natural ecosystem can help people take steps to become the person they want to be in our community ecosystem.”

Over the past four years, Booker has been working in the nonprofit world, focusing on food insecurity and urban agriculture. Currently, Booker works as the Manager of the Badger Rock Neighborhood Center, where he started out as an Assistant Farm Education Manager.

“[In that role], I worked with a middle school class on gardening and different food and cooking activities, as well as working with community gardens,” explained Booker. “Community gardens mean a lot to me, because I actually started my own agricultural journey by being part of the East Madison Community Center gardening program when I was in elementary school, so I was able to learn how to garden as a child. My mom saw how much I loved it, and I started gardening at home. It’s been a really big part of my life – being part of community gardens, and community work.”

He has found and built community in other spaces, as well. Booker has belonged to a collective called Firm Footing Farms located in Black Earth, WI for the past three years. The couple that owns the farm provide free space to Queer BIPOC farmers so that they can start or learn different agriculture practices. Booker makes the 45 minute drive out to the farm on a weekly basis to take care of 18 chickens, beekeep, and tend his beds of fruits, wheat, collard greens, herbs, and more. He plans to use some of the items he grows on the farm during programs for the library.

“Growing up in Madison, I’ve been going to the library for as long as I can remember. I have utilized workshops on cooking, arts and crafts activities, etc. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve seen how our libraries have put an emphasis on learning about nature through things like the Seed Library, gardening programs, foraging classes, and more, so I’m excited to add to that knowledge and be a part of the library family,” said Booker. “I have also used books from the library to read and develop on subjects like herbalism, and I’m excited to share some of those titles as part of the Naturalist-in-Residence book list that will be released as part of the residency.”

Learn more about Alex and the Naturalist-in-Residence program at madpl.org/naturalist.

The Naturalist-in-Residence program is made possible by Nancy Leff & Kenneth Lerner.


About Madison Public Library

Madison Public Library’s tradition of promoting education, literacy, and community involvement has enriched the City of Madison for more than 140 years.  Visit the library online at www.madisonpubliclibrary.org and @madisonpubliclibrary on Facebook and Instagram.

About the Naturalist-in-Residence Program

Started in 2022, the Naturalist-in-Residence program is a way to connect Madison residents with the beautiful natural landscapes that surround them through Madison Parks and libraries. Each year, a Naturalist is selected to lead 10+ programs over the course of a six-week residency in the summer or fall. Programs have included nature walks, eco art, environmental justice initiatives, birding outings, foraging, herbal tea blending, nature infusions, and many more. Learn more about the program at madpl.org/naturalist.



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