Hundreds of brave lake lovers trekked to Green Bay in early April to share their successes and learn from one another at the 35th annual Wisconsin Lakes Partnership Convention. This year’s event featured a couple of new tweaks meant to attract newcomers and satisfy those who come to the convention year after year. The first day was filled with optional workshops in the morning and afternoon, including tours of the Green Bay wastewater treatment facility and a youth education workshop at the nearby Bay Beach Sanctuary. The Lake Leaders reception was held at Title Town Brewpub, allowing people to reconnect and learn about the Lake Leaders program (recruitment for the next class of Lake Leaders takes place in early 2014!).
The Convention formally kicked off with a plenary talk by Dr. David Garman, Dean of the recently created School of Freshwater Sciences at UW Milwaukee. Dr. Garman highlighted the looming stressors facing lake and river resources worldwide and made the case for Wisconsin to play a lead role in solving water management problems through applied research and business development. Ken Johnson, DNR’s Water Division administrator, gave a luncheon talk that highlighted his own youth in the Green Bay area when the Fox River was so polluted that it did not support any fishery. He pointed out the progress we have made and the challenges we still face to meet the goals of the Clean Water Act.
Wednesday night featured the Lakes Stewardship Awards. Rod Olson was recognized in the citizen category for all his efforts at Desair Lake and his engagement in watershed planning and protection in the Red Cedar Basin. Forest County Association of Lakes was recognized for their group efforts in northeast Wisconsin to advance lake protection and restoration in one of the most remote regions of the state. The Tomah Lake Committee received an award for the individual lake group category for their tireless efforts to restore Tomah Lake and make it more accessible to the recreating public. A team of DNR LTE lake researchers, Martha Barton, Ali Mikulyuk, Michelle Nault, and Kelly Wagner, were recognized in the public service category, and an award for innovative service was given to the DNR’s Jane Malischke and Pamela Toshner for their work in streamlining Clean Boats, Clean Waters grants.
Thursday’s lunch was emotionally punctuated by a stirring talk given by Dr. Mamie Parker, a retired Assistant Director with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Mamie recounted the many ways that her mother’s wisdom guided her career as the first African American woman to advance to Assistant Director in the Service’s history. Despite the numerous barriers, Mamie repeatedly drew from her inner strength to demonstrate what leadership means. Award winning documentary filmmaker Allison Argo gave the closing plenary talk, sharing her transformative story as she went from actress to director, giving voice to wildlife as diverse as frogs, gorillas, and horseshoe crabs along the way. Between these keynote events attendees went to over 50 different breakout sessions and met with over 30 different exhibitors.
The 2014 Wisconsin Lakes Partnership Convention will be back in Stevens Point at the Holiday Inn, April 24-26. The initial planning meeting will take place on June 26 at 10am; you are welcome to join the effort, contact UW Extension Lakes for more details (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Note: Archived presentations from 2013 and earlier Lakes Partnership Conventions are online at: http://www4.uwsp.edu/cnr/uwexlakes/conventions/conventionArchive.asp