Seven Oneida and Vilas County residents recently graduated from the Wisconsin Lake Leaders Institute. The Lake Leaders Institute is a statewide leadership program aimed at helping lake stewards gain a better understanding of lake ecology and how to work with state and local governments to assure lakes get the attention they need. Through a combination of reading, classroom activities, and field experiences, participants learned about lake management, local and state government, and leadership skills.
The Wisconsin Lake Leaders Institute draws participants from across the state to take part in a series of three two-day seminars. Participants demonstrate a commitment to protecting the integrity of the lakes in Wisconsin with an investment of their time and a $300 tuition fee. Carol Warden, one of the recent graduates, reflects their passion “I’ve found nothing on earth more calming, life-giving, satisfying, and exhilarating than time spent on a lake. And therefore, I can find nothing more on earth that I want to work harder to protect and keep than our lakes.”
Local members participating as part of “Crew 9” Lake Leaders include Dave Blunk of Squaw Lake in Vilas and Oneida counties; Steven Budnik of the Turtle Lakes Chain in Winchester; Dennis Burg of the Eagle River Chain of Lakes; Laura Herman, Statewide Citizen Lake Monitoring network Coordinator with UWEX; Katherine Noel from Indian Lake in Oneida County; Quita Sheehan, Vilas County Conservation Specialist; and Carol Warden, Aquatic Invasive Species Specialist with the UW Center for Limnology at Trout Lake Station. The graduation ceremony took place at the Aldo Leopold Shack near Baraboo, a fitting setting for celebrating the lake leaders accomplishments and looking ahead to their conservation journeys in the world of lakes.
“This is the most complete lake ecology course I’ve ever been involved in,” commented Dave Blunk. Professional lake workers agreed. “I have worked with lake issues for years and I still learned so much from the Lake Leaders Institute. The sessions covered topics ranging from leadership, values, and environmental ethics to lake ecology and human impacts to lake advocacy and citizen involvement. It was an “A to Z” lake learning experience,” said Laura Herman.
All this passion and commitment benefits Wisconsin taxpayers and lake users. “With over 15,000 lakes statewide and a modest number of state staff in service to protect them, it is clear that no one state agency or unit of government can independently provide the attention that each lake deserves” explained Patrick Goggin, UW-Extension Lake Specialist. “This leadership program provides local lake leaders with effective tools and resources to assist them as they volunteer their skills and talents to the stewardship of our lakes”.
The Wisconsin Lakes Partnership is a team made up of the University of Wisconsin-Extension, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, and the citizen advocacy organization Wisconsin Lakes. Together they recognized the need for new and on-going leadership in the management of our lakes and created the Wisconsin Lake Leaders Institute in 1996. The mission of the Institute is to assist citizen lake leaders or “crew members,” in developing and enhancing both their technical and people skills, ultimately enriching their communities and the waters within them. Since its inception, 200+ participants have graduated from the Institute and have made significant contributions in addressing a host of diverse water management challenges. The program has received national attention as an effective strategy to enhance lake stewardship and protection.
For more information about the Lakes Leadership program contact Quita Sheehan at (715) 479-3646 firstname.lastname@example.org , UW-Extension Lakes staff at (715)-346-2116, email@example.com or visit their website http://www4.uwsp.edu/cnr/uwexlakes/lakeleaders/ .