STEVENS POINT, Wis. — This year as they’ve done every year for the past 30, Dale Jalinski, Bob Kirschner, Tom Rulseh and Kay Scharpf will motor out to the middle of their local lakes, ease a black and white disk out of the boat and lower it down into the water on a rope until they can no longer see the disk’s harlequin pattern.
They are the longest-serving of thousands of volunteers who over the years have checked their local lakes several times a year for water clarity and for other signs of good health. The information these volunteers have collected as part of Wisconsin’s Citizen Lakes Monitoring Network has been important to helping manage, protect and restore their local lakes and understand statewide trends.
The four were among more than a dozen volunteers recognized earlier this spring for their efforts to help protect and restore Wisconsin lakes and streams. The awards were presented during the Wisconsin Lakes Convention and the Water Action Volunteers stream monitoring annual symposium, which were held together March 30-April 2 at the Holiday Inn and Convention Center here to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the lakes monitoring program and the 20th anniversary of the stream monitoring program.
“The amount of quality information and energy they provide is an incredible boost to our efforts. Our beautiful lakes and streams are a big part of what we all love about Wisconsin and we are pleased to honor these outstanding volunteers and their contributions,” said Carroll Schaal, who leads lake and river management staff for DNR.
Dale Jalinski was honored for 30 years of monitoring Bear Lake in Oneida County; Bob Kirshner for the same at Crystal Lake in Forest County and Emden Lake in Oneida County; Tom Rulseh was honored for 30 years of monitoring McDonald Lake in Vilas County and Kay Scharpf for monitoring Franklin Lake in Forest County.
Karl and Lucy Klug of Baileys Harbor were honored for their 19 years monitoring streams, and Jim Korb of Richland Center was recognized for 15 years’ service as a volunteer stream monitor.
“We were thrilled to be able to recognize long-time volunteers and people making a real difference for the health of lakes, rivers and streams,” said Eric Olson, director of UW Extension Lakes, the lead partner in organizing the annual convention.
A listing of Lake Stewardship Award winners from the Wisconsin Lakes Partnership of DNR, UW-Extension and the statewide nonprofit Wisconsin Lakes, and Wisconsin Volunteer Stream Monitoring Awards from the Water Action Volunteers, follows.
Lake Stewardship Awards
Gene Weyer of Manitowoc, citizen category – Through work with the Hartlaub Lake Association and as president of the Manitowoc County Lakes Association from 2010-2014, Weyer recruited and trained volunteers to monitor, helped secure funding for their efforts, and led the search for a solution after a hybrid invasive plant was discovered.
Burnett County Lakes & Rivers Association, group category – For decades, the group has been a leading force in protecting county waterways, from advocating for the county to adopt lakes classification as part of its shoreland zoning ordinance in 1988, to more recent efforts pioneering the research and use of social science principles in lake protection. Their work helped lead the county to become the first in Wisconsin to adopt an ordinance making it illegal to transport aquatic vegetation on boats and trailers, and helped create an incentive program that has encouraged 750 landowners to maintain or restore 50 miles of natural shoreland.
Susan Borman and Dorothy Semple, public service category – Borman, a retired DNR aquatics plant specialist, and Semple, a Stevens Point artist, donated their time, skills and expertise as key participants in updating Through the Looking Glass, the well-regarded book of Wisconsin’s aquatic vegetation.
John Skogerboe, lifetime service – A retired U.S. Army Corps of Engineers biologist, Skogerboe was honored for his research with the corps on how to manage aquatic plants and invasive species. In the 10 years since he retired, Skogerboe’s work as a consultant to DNR on aquatic plants and invasive aquatic plants has benefitted the agency, lake management professionals, and citizens.
Wisconsin Stream Monitoring Awards
Dave Hackett and Ellen Brooks of Gays Mills, adult volunteer category – Hackett and Brooks are part of the Valley Stewardship Network and have been monitoring their stream station on the Halls Branch in Crawford County since year 2000. Starting in 2014, they added monitoring total phosphorus levels to their duties. Their data contributed to part of a Kickapoo River Watershed Assessment in 2010.
Bill and Lisa Keen of Verona, adult volunteer – The Keens began monitoring sites in the Upper Sugar River Watershed in 2007, including Badger Mill Creek which flows through their backyard. They uncovered extremely high levels of total phosphorus in Badger Mill Creek, information which they shared with the surrounding municipalities and sewerage district.
Laura DeGolier of Fond du Lac, adult volunteer category – For 10 years, she has worked tirelessly to participate in and lead stream-monitoring efforts in the Fond du Lac area. She has also initiated and continued to monitor additional sites with her dedicated team, the Water Warriors.
Camryn Kluetmeier of Madison, student volunteer category – Starting at the ripe old age of 11, Kluetmeier travelled to Jefferson, Wis. for a day of stream monitoring training and soon began a stream monitoring club at Eagle School in Fitchburg with the help of her mom and others. She mentored her schoolmates in the monitoring club and also led first graders from Madison’s Franklin Elementary School to do water testing and storm drain stenciling on Lake Monona, and a group of third-graders from her church to test water in Lake Mendota.
Charlie Frisk of Green Bay, outstanding teacher category – Frisk has been integral to the success of the Lower Fox River Watershed Monitoring Program. He instilled in his students at Luxemburg-Casco High School a sense of respect and passion for protecting the water resources and also trained other teachers during the annual summer teacher workshops. Despite his recent retirement, he has continued to monitor Baird Creek in Green Bay and serve as a mentor to new teachers.
The Valley Stewardship Network of southwestern Wisconsin, group category – The group works in the Kickapoo River and neighboring watersheds in southwest Wisconsin to protect the land and water through stewardship outreach and citizen action. For over 15 years VSN has coordinated a group of water quality monitors through the WAV program. Over 200 citizen scientists have been trained to date with over 50 monitoring stations established.
Patricia Cicero of Lake Mills, outstanding employee category – Cicero, who works for the Jefferson County Land & Water Conservation Department, leads volunteer stream monitoring and volunteer invasive species prevention programs for the county. She also advises many water resources groups in Jefferson County and serves on the board of the Rock River Coalition. Cicero has been contributing data to the DNR through various monitoring programs since 2005 and has been a go-to resource for Water Action Volunteers when launching new initiatives by securing volunteers or monitoring herself.