Dane County Office of Lakes & Watersheds
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Waters Champion - 2006

The Dane County Lakes and Watershed Commission has announced its 2006 Dane County Waters Champion Award recipients. The awards are given annually recognizing individuals, organizations, businesses, and youth that have made outstanding contributions towards the protection and improvement of Dane County's water resources. Their work has made a positive impact on water quality as well as the scenic, economic, recreational and environmental value of those lakes and streams.

Individual: Jeanne Behrend, Sun Prairie

In 2000, Behrend discovered Indian burial mounds on land adjacent to Patrick Marsh, a 785-acre water wetland in Sun Prairie and has since championed the effort to preserve it. As president of Patrick Marsh Conservancy, she created a collaboration of a cross-section of public and private groups and individuals to preserve the educational, historic and environmental culture for the goal of converting the area into a regional/state educational/research site, as well as serving conservation and recreation needs.

“I am deeply honored to receive this award from the Dane County Lakes and Watershed Commission. People in the Sun Prairie and Bristol communities really appreciate the educational, recreational and conservation opportunities available at Patrick Marsh and I am so grateful for the many individuals and organizations who made this project a success,” said Behrend.

Behrend raised funds and involved many service groups and public schools to advance the conservation drive and to purchase not only Patrick Marsh, but also adjacent lands for inclusion into protected Dane County Park and Open Space area.

Business: Ace Hardware, Madison

Through its expertise and generosity, Ace Hardware on Williamson Street and co-owner Tom Shepherd helped make the Sustain Dane Rain Barrel Project a success, The Project aims to reduce non-point source runoff pollution, to build strong personal relationships in our community and to educate Dane County residents about sustainability, water quality and environmental stewardship. By providing parts and tools at near cost, Ace Hardware put the good of the Project in front of making a profit and contributed personal time outside the store. The assistance provided by Ace Hardware on Williamson Street and co-owner Tom Shepherd made the project’s goal of installing 100 rain barrels throughout Dane County possible. With the help of over 70 community volunteers, the original goal was surpassed and more than 400 rain barrels have been ordered with more orders coming in daily.

“This is a great honor,” said Ace Hardware owner Tom Shepherd. “I believe in doing what we can do for the environment and hopefully make some progress. It always makes me feel good to do what we can to help out,” he said.

Organization: Graham-Martin Foundation, Madison

The Graham-Martin Foundation has provided significant resources to Dane County residents and organizations that include plants and installation expertise for rain garden projects affecting several county watersheds. The Foundation has chosen highly visible projects with the intent of spreading the word and fostering acceptance of rain gardens as tools for improving water quality and infiltration.

“This is quite an honor,” said Bill Graham, founder of Agrecol and the Graham-Martin Foundation, which provides philanthropic support of environmental initiatives.

A reception and awards presentation for these Water Champions will take place at the Madison Club Thursday, June 15, 5:30 p.m., followed by a recognition by the Dane County Board of Supervisors at its 7:00 p.m. meeting at the City County Building. The public is invited to attend both events.

Youth: Patrick Marsh Middle School Discovery Club, Sun Prairie

The Patrick Marsh Middle School Discovery Club is a hands-on educational opportunity to learn about science and participate in research in a natural setting. Under the guidance of Mark Smith, teacher sponsor and Sandy Kintner, parent leader of the Discovery Club, the students were responsible for amassing an impressive amount of environmental data on Patrick Marsh.

“We use Patrick Marsh as an outdoor classroom for all seventh grade students to explore mammals, amphibians, birds, poetry, prairie and forest identification. It’s exciting to see how many kids get excited about a spider eating a grasshopper. Our school is very lucky to also have the creek in front of our school so we can have a discussion with the kids about protecting habitat for birds. It all works for a very fulfilling ecological unit to share with the kids,” Mark Smith.

In addition to collecting fauna and flora data, the Patrick Marsh Middle School Discovery Club inventoried small mammals, surveyed visiting birds, created a water quality monitoring program, set up an automated weather station, removed invasive species, maintained habit and collected seeds for planting in the marsh. They also mentored elementary students in research basics at the marsh and helped them understand the complexities of nature. The Discovery Club is a model of stewardship, which they practice it daily at Patrick Marsh.

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Yahara Waterways Trail Guide The Yahara Waterways Water Trail Guide is a great resource for exploring our area waters.