Kurt and Gloria Schuh

The Schuh’s woodlands, in Marinette County, have always been a familyDSC04459
affair. Kurt’s grandparents bought the first 40 acres in 1964, Kurt and his brother later bought 52 acres, and Kurt and Gloria bought 40 acres, all adjacent to one another, making a contiguous 132 acres today.

Gloria loves their woodlands for the space it provides for their family. When their son, nieces and nephews were young they planted many acres of trees in their woodlands, and Kurt and Gloria were able to watch the kids grow up alongside those trees.

Even when their son, Jake, was too young to entertain the concept of being quiet while in the woods, Kurt wanted to start instilling in him an appreciation for the woodlands and wildlife, and so he took up trapping when their son was 3 or 4 years old. Jake also got to help out in the woodlands alongside his grandpa planting trees on the property.

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Brent & Deborah McCown

McCownsI once read that ignorance and indifference are the twin enemies of democracy. The two are likewise the twin enemies of our forestland. It is the educated and responsible woodland owner who preserves the integrity our woodlands deserves. It is our community which reaps the benefits they sow: cleaner air, purer water, abundant wildlife, and revitalized souls.  We, as WWOA members, believe our woods are best managed by dedicated families with the power of knowledge. Let us look to yet another example of this belief in action.

Brent and Deborah McCown manage 157 acres of diverse, hilly uplands in Iowa County. 100 acres consists of maturing deciduous hardwoods, mostly oak, hickory, basswood, and ash. All of the woodlands have been actively managed by the McCowns for about 35 years now and are under the Managed Forest Law. The other 57 acres is Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) grassland, mostly brome grass, but also include about 5 acres of rare remnant short-grass prairie and another 5 acres of planted prairie.
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Carl and Doris Mueller

DorisOne of my greatest pleasures serving WWOA is speaking with woodland owners from all across Wisconsin. There is so much difference among them– from political views to professional experience and hobbies. And yet there are many commonalities in the WWOA membership as well, including an ethical respect for the land, a deep seeded desire to leave the land better than they found it, and a passion to help fellow woodland owners. We shall continue our profile of WWOA members with Carl and Doris Mueller of Onalaska, WI. I recently had an entertaining phone conversation with Doris which I would like to share with you (Carl was out on their tree farm attempting to get a stubborn wood splitter working again.)

The Muellers first acquired their 160 acre tree farm in Trempealeau County after (and this is when I was introduced to Doris’s amazing chuckle) haha! Well, Carl came home one day and told me about it – hehehe!  She clarified that one of Carl’s former students-turned real-estate-agent informed them about the property. At the time the farm consisted of a few tillable acres, two active lime quarries, and the rest woodlands. In between her laughter (I believe half of our conversation took this form) Doris mentioned that over the years they worked hard to plant “thousands and thousands of trees.” [Read more…]

Roger and Judie Wilson

WWOA members, Dr. Roger and Judie Wilson of Clintonville along with their children Central Sands & Wolf River Ch 9.29.12 043Sandra, Gregory, and Dan recently discussed their woodland passions during a family weekend.  Roger would like to share some of their thoughts.

Roger says, “Your passion for your woodlands is like roots in the sand.” He explains, “All roots are not the same but serve a purpose for growth, stability and a base for the creation above them.  Flowers, field crops, trees and families all have roots that bind and twine as time moves along.  Anything with roots in the sand deserves attention.  A sand base presents a challenge to start with – to bear fruit then, is a special gift of life.”

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Don and Geneva Krahn

WWOA members, Don and Geneva Krahn of Arkdale, have involved Don Geneva Krahn (2)their family and friends in their woodlands for many years.  While Don has always been interested in the outdoors, he says, “it was a conservation course in college that really stirred my interest in tree farming.”

Their story starts the day after Geneva and Don closed on their first home in Fort Atkinson in 1962.  Don and his brother-in-law, Howard, headed to Adams County to look for land resulting in the purchase of 40 acres in the Town of Big Flats.  Don states, “Needless to say, the proximately of those two purchases brought some slight friction to the Krahn household.  Worse yet, both my brother-in-law and I had to borrow the farm funds from his father.”

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Jim and Marlene Zdanovec


WWOA members, Jim and Marlene Zdanovec of Oshkosh, grew up with a passion for Zdanovecs & shop 2011woodlands.  Coming from rural backgrounds, Jim says “passion for our 160 acre woodlot and the environment began at an early age because we understood how important the woodlots are to our sustainability as a human race.”

The objective of Zdanovec’s Outback Tree Farm in eastern Marathon County is to promote long-term productivity of the forest ecosystem with good land stewardship, for the benefit of the land and wildlife.  Their Tree Farm started as land that was referred to as the “pits in early years due to granite excavation and timber high-grading but through their care the land has been transformed to a healthy forest.  The Zdanovec’s passion and hard work on their woodlands resulted in being named Wisconsin’s Outstanding Tree Farmers in 2002, and in 2004 they were awarded the National Outstanding Tree Farmers of the Year Award, becoming only the second Wisconsin couple to receive this honor.

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Kent and Jeanette Makela

WWOA members, Kent and Jeanette Makela of Maple, say WP_20131008_002their family history has influenced how they manage their woodlands.  As Kent says, “Being a somewhat stoic Finnlander, getting passionate about anything can be a stretch . . .that said, I do fantasize about returning the land to what it must have looked like before the great cut-over.  WWOA has caused me to focus on this sort of goal, as well as meeting others who, while we may have different goals, share the same passions.”

The Makelas have randomly planted white pine, white spruce and yellow birch to create a seed-tree stocking base, three species that Kent is sure were present on the landscape and are now absent.  Kent states, “So, I guess you could say I am passionate about historical restoration of our forest.  I have looked at the original survey notes of George Stuntz and picture him making notes on the section corner just down from our house.”

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Dean and Kay Mehlberg

2104K&DAs a new member of the WWOA community I have observed a common trait among the members I’ve met thus far, passion; passion for their woodlands, passion to learn, and passion to give back. With spring approaching and the field season near I want to encourage all our members to share their passion. Talk to community members, neighbors, family, and friends about WWOA. Take the time to give back in your Chapters, help plan a field day, join a committee, and find a way to get involved. You never know the influence your passion will have on others.

Dean and Kay Mehlberg do know. Kay’s father, Pete Kucksdorf, was a big inspiration in their lives and helped lead them to WWOA. In Kay’s words, “When I think of him trees automatically come to mind. I remember planting trees every single year. It was a big part of him. The woods became a family recreational and learning activity.” Pete managed 150 acres in Shawano County. The woods strengthened the family bonds. Dean reinforced that message, “He was big in managing hundreds of acres and a consummate reader and learner. He would encourage all his kids to participate in logging activities and plant trees.” Dean and Kay followed Pete’s advice and joined WWOA, the passion was passed on.

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Jim and Jackie Wagener

Perhaps you met WWOA members Jim and Jackie Wagener of Central Sands & Wolf River Ch 9.29.12 041Madison, while they volunteered at the WWOA Gift Shop during our 2012 Annual Meeting in Middleton. When asked about his woodland passions, Jim Wagener says “Since we purchased our woodlands in 2005, my wife, Jackie, and I have been committed to rescuing the property from being taken over by the invasion of black locust. We have attacked, cleared and fought back the invasive species on about eight acres. It is now a joy to see the oaks and pines emerge.

The Wagener’s passion for their land is obvious when you hear them describe the numerous weekends of cutting and treating black locust on their land. Their hard work and persistence has produced native seedlings where only black locust grew before.

“The greatest gift our WWOA membership provides for us is information. The combination of exposure to forestry experts and the ability to learn from our fellow WWOA members has been invaluable to us,” the Wageners said.