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.

Today Dean and Kay manage 43 acres in Shawano County, part of the Kucksdorf family club, and another 80 acres in Langlade County.  All of the acres have a management plan and part of the land is in the MFL program. When asked what they were passionate about in regards to their woodlands Dean immediately replied, “Sustainability, it’s kind of a game, maintaining it so it can regenerate is a prime principle. You can’t isolate the woods from wind, drought, and insects. It takes a long time and lots of work.” Dean and Kay like the challenge managing their woodlands bring, and they like to learn what others are doing. Their passion is shared.

Dean and Kay are always giving back to the community. They have worked with University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point professors to bring college classes onto their family land for educational opportunities. Dean, as President of the Wolf River Chapter and along with Kay’s support, work hard to organize field days so members can learn of the diversity of the Chapters counties and what other landowners are doing. In Dean’s words, “We want to make it a learning experience and we want to appreciate what others are working hard at.”

WWOA was founded and thrives because of the passion of active woodland owners. Families and communities are strengthened because of that passion. Dean and Kay inherited their passion partly from Kay’s father, Pete. Now they share their passion with their communities and with fellow WWOA members. Let us work together this year to spread our common passion for woodlands. Let us be inspired by our neighbors and in turn inspire others. Together let our passion shine throughout the whole state and light effectual change.