Dr. Pao Vue (Xeempov Vwj) was born in Laos but emigrated to the United States with his family in 1982 as refugees of the Vietnam War. His family initially settled in Salt Lake City, Utah before moving to La Crosse, Wisconsin in 1984. Growing up in the La Crosse area meant that Pao was able to enjoy many outdoor activities that sparked his interest in biodiversity and natural resources conservation. He moved to Madison after graduating from Onalaska High School to pursue a bachelor degree in zoology and biological aspects of conservation at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He then attended the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay for a masters in environmental science and policy before returning to the University of Wisconsin-Madison for a doctorate in geography along with a minor in conservation biology and sustainable development. Pao completed his study in 2018 and currently works for the United States Department of Agriculture – Wisconsin Natural Resources Conservation Service as a Resource Conservationist.

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a detailed image of a baby sash


This worn and tattered tie is what remains from a once beautiful sash made from hemp fabric and interwoven with some of the most expensive colored threads available in the highlands of Laos in 1979. It was meticulously hand-stitched by a Hmong woman named Madam Phoua La Chang (Niam Npuag Laj Tsab) using a sewing technique known as ‘braided thread (xov sib qhaib).’