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60 years of giving doesn't bug Mo Nielsen

Your gifts in action

Officially, Mogens “Mo” Nielsen’s generosity to MSU began with a gift of $5 in 1953. He hasn’t missed a yearly annual gift to MSU since 1967—a history of continuous giving that is unmatched by any faculty, staff or retiree donor.

These longtime annual gifts often supported the Department of Forestry where he earned his degree in 1950 and launched a long, productive career in the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.  But, he has also significantly supported the Department of Entomology, where his love of nature and MSU coalesced into a lifelong pursuit of avocational lepidoptera—the enjoyment, study and collection of butterflies, moths and skippers—in close partnership with MSU entomologists.

Over six decades, he has contributed countless hours of time and nearly 75,000 specimens to MSU’s Albert J. Cook Arthropod Research Collection while his cumulative and steadfast cash gifts have helped provide needed discretionary funds to maintain the collection.

“Mo’s influence is everywhere in this collection,” says Gary Parsons, collection manager. “His passion for discovering new information, collecting and sharing his knowledge, has had a profound impact and we are grateful for his devotion.”

Upon his retirement in 1988, Mo was appointed as Adjunct Curator of Lepidoptera at MSU. Eight years later, in 1996, Professor Emeritus Fred Stehr invited Mo to accompany him on a month-long journey through Brazil to collect butterfly specimens, a testament to Mo’s prowess in the field.

In 1999, Mo published Michigan Butterflies and Skippers: A Field Guide and Reference through MSU Extension. The 252 page guidebook, detailing more than 150 species, was a labor of love worthy of his reputation among lepidopterists.

That Mo has also contributed to the field and MSU’s entomology programs with annual gifts comes as no surprise to former MSU President Gordon Guyer.

 “The value to future students and researchers of the specimens alone that Mo Nielsen has provided is beyond measure,” says Guyer. “That his commitment extended to annual cash gifts to support the collection and is yet another part of his tremendous legacy.”

Mo says he never did anything for recognition.

 “I give specimens, my time and money, to simply share my love of nature with the next generation,” he says. “It’s like so many things in life. You plant a seed and can only hope it will grow and sprout.”

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