History & Mission

Ron Sauey and George Archibald, Co-Founders of the International Crane Foundation.
Co-Founders Ron Sauey and George Archibald at the Sauey Family farm where they started the International Crane Foundation in 1973.

The story of the International Crane Foundation began in 1971 at Cornell University with two students who shared a passion for cranes. Ornithology students Ron Sauey and George Archibald envisioned an organization that would combine research, captive breeding and reintroduction, landscape restoration and education to safeguard the world’s 15 crane species. In 1973, with the generosity of the Sauey family – who rented their horse farm to Ron and George for $1 a year! – the International Crane Foundation “hatched” in Baraboo, Wisconsin.

Over nearly 50 years, we have developed unique collaborations and led effective community-based conservation programs, important research projects and innovative captive breeding and reintroduction efforts. These endeavors have inspired international cooperation, helped improve livelihoods for people around the world and lead to the protection of millions of acres of wetlands and grasslands on the five continents where cranes live.

Texas coastal wetland. Photo by Dave and Liz Smith

Our Mission The International Crane Foundation works worldwide to conserve cranes and the ecosystems, watersheds and flyways on which they depend. We provide knowledge, leadership and inspiration to engage people in resolving threats to cranes and their diverse landscapes.

Today, the International Crane Foundation’s impact reaches across the globe. We have offices and staff in China, Uganda, Kenya, Zambia and South Africa, as well as Texas, and work through strong partnerships with local organizations, governments, universities, businesses and others in these regions. Our more than 125 staff and associates work with a network of hundreds of specialists in over 50 countries on five continents.

A woman shows materials to a group of women and children in Uganda. Photo by Margaret Pyke Trust
We work with partners across the globe to further our mission to conserve landscapes for both people and wildlife.

Our nearly 300-acre global headquarters in Baraboo, Wisc. hosts a captive flock of approximately 100 cranes, including the only complete collection of all 15 species in the world. Our site, which features live crane exhibits, guided and self-guided tours, a research library, a welcome center and four miles of nature trails, is visited by more than 25,000 people annually.

We don’t have any plans of slowing down now. With 11 of the world’s 15 crane species facing extinction, our future promises to be one of continued growth and innovation to meet the growing challenges. We thank you for being a part of our history – and for supporting our future as we work to protect cranes and the ecosystems, watersheds and flyways on which they depend.