Community Projects

Each LWC year concludes with a graduation where participants are able to present projects they have been working on throughout the LWC year.  The Project Presentations are inspired by the Community Issues that are unique to each class.  

CLASS XXII (2021-2022)

Waupaca Internet Service Education (W.I.S.E.) | Team Members: Sheila Mroczynski, Durant Popple, Janice Popple

Access to affordable and reliable internet continues to be an issue for Waupaca County residents, especially those who live in rural areas. Many residents are overpaying for their service and are not happy with what they are buying. Most of the information about internet service is found on the internet. How does someone with-out service learn about it?
Our initial plan was to focus on the internet providers available in Waupaca County and costs associated. However, this all changes quickly. We conducted a survey of Waupaca County residents to gather some information. We learned most people think the service is too expensive, many are not satisfied with the provider and most don’t have any idea on what type of internet speeds they have or need for reliable service.
We have focused on educating residents on various aspects of in-ternet service and developed a pamphlet to distribute throughout Waupaca County. The pamphlet highlights types of internet, im-portant definitions and questions to ask potential providers. In-cluded is a worksheet consumers can use to determine how much internet speed is needed to have a reliable service in their house-(Continued on next page)
This is not only a Waupaca County problem. The issue reaches beyond Wisconsin’s borders. It will continue to be a problem into the future. As long as it is allowed, some companies will continue to overserve and overcharge for this highly needed service. Our intention is to provide the information Waupaca County residents need to advocate for them-selves for affordable and reliable internet service.

Rural Revitalization | Team Members: Matt McGregor, Amy Meinhardt, Laurie Yaeger

Our group feels passionate about the direction rural communities are going. While the trend of moving to urban areas continues to impact small rural towns, we have many opportunities to reverse the trend. We have seen successful resurgent efforts of small towns across the county resulting in not only new residents but also new opportuni-ties for the towns they relocate to. Taking advantage of the public’s re-discovered need to for a quiet space of their own, and assessing the im-pact that city stress can have on mental health, small towns may have the upper hand at attracting people in need of a change: Whether they are looking for outdoor recreation, a peaceful place for remote working, job availability, or to stretch their income further with a lower cost of living. Small towns can be the financial and low stress respite people are looking for. Until recently, the history of labor has shown that peo-ple move to a community to be closer to their jobs, but now more than ever we can be located in the places that make us happy. For a growing number of people, small towns have all of the elements they are look-ing for .
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Joint Municipal Facility | Team Members: Casey Beyersdorf, Craig Freitag, Caz Muske, Scott Purchatzke

An overview of the pro’s and con’s of joining Public Works Facilities. This project stems from a common need between the Waupaca County Highway Department and the City of Clintonville Public Works De-partment. The project group members are familiar with administering operations from Public Works Facilities and the service those facilities provide, as well as the manpower and equipment that are housed with-in these facilities. This presentation focuses on studying the effect a partnership opportunity that a shared facility would have on providing maximum service to our communities while reducing costs and at the same time, more efficiently utilizing our facilities.

CLASS XX (2019-2020)

Food for Today Hunger Simulation | Team Members: Christi Gabrilska, Michelle Lambrecht

We know there are many families and individuals in our communities that utilize services such as Food Pantries, WIC, Head Start, and other support services. We’ve seen first hand the experiences families sometimes have at these agen-cies and it isn’t always positive. Volunteers making judgmental comments based on the kind of car a pantry guest pulls up in, or the brand of phone they have. What may not be seen on the outside, however is what that family went through just to get to that pantry that day. There is a great likelihood individuals utilizing these services have also experienced adverse childhood experiences, or ACE’s.
For our project, we would like to host a Food For Today Hunger Simulation and invite our community partners that serve this vulnerable population to better un-derstand what a family may go through just to procure food for their family for one day. We hope that this simulation may also lead to other training opportuni-ties such as Trauma informed care. We hope to create trauma sensitive commu-nities to better serve and better understand families and individuals in Waupaca County with limited resources.

Rural Transportation | Team Members: Simon Blanton, Katherine Freund, Lindsay Pietrzak

Exploring community needs for transportation in rural communities and viable options in Waupaca County

Stop the Bleed | Team Members: Renee Berg, Dustin Koury, Pam Kolb, Michael Lee, Lori Schmidt

Bringing awareness to Waupaca County, along with providing kits and training to people in the community

Volunteerism | Team Members: Eric Barg, Nick Desrochers, Kevin Konkol, Tricia Rose

Our group intends to take a closer look at what is happening throughout our county in terms of volunteerism and community service. It is our understanding that community service organizations are losing members and that area events are suffering from this lack of service. We plan to take a closer look at what em-ployers are doing (if anything) to encourage volunteering and hopefully develop some suggestions to get them to consider doing so, as well as motivate people to consider stepping up to the plate.

CLASS XIX (2018-2019)

Building Social Capital in Waupaca County | Team Members: Angie Nielsen, Sue Popham, Taylor Sorenson

Operation Opportunity | Team Members: Heather DeGrand, Casey Gardner, Don Heise, Wendy Hoppa, Bryce Mares

The State of Access to Internet and Mobile in Waupaca County | Team Members: Jeff Simon, Thiago Souza, Annette Spieth

A Study of the Issues Surrounding Drug Use and the Need for a Drug Treatment Program within Waupaca County | Team Members: Alison Acker, Eric Johnson

CLASS XVIII (2017-2018)

Retaining Young People | Team Members: Todd Forseth, Ken Horn, Gene LeSage, Jed Wohlt, Mandy Zastrow

As a group, we all found that it is becoming increasingly obvious that employers in our community are having a challenging time retaining employees. Often employees will find themselves directly out of college starting out their working career in the Waupaca community. Once they have a couple years of work experience, they will move to larger areas that can offer more lucrative pay and a larger variety of opportunities. We chose this topic because we wanted to find a way to retain these employees in our community and in our workforce. Our group researched what the issues are and why people choose to move out of our area. In our research, it became overwhelmingly obvious that as college students earned their degrees, they were taking on more debt. The higher paying jobs in bigger cities is hard for many of our smaller community employers to compete with. It would make sense that if our community could offer to help decrease the burden of student debt to members who reside and work in our community, that it would benefit them to stay. We looked for different directions on how to make this idea a reality. We approached three bodies; government, an employer and a local community foundation to assist us in getting our idea off the ground.

Educating Youth about Healthy Eating | Team Members: Cody Bank, Jennifer Greenwood, Nate Morgan, Gene Mykisen, David Stelzner

With the growing trend in obesity in Waupaca County and the lower income statuses of many of our county’s residents, our team felt that it was necessary to develop a healthy eating initiative to help young students develop a wider perspective on alternative healthy snacking choices that are available. We responded by developing a program called “Feed Your Curiosity: a Healthy Eating Initiative.” In the program, the young participants are asked to spin a wheel with several different new or unusual foods on it. They are asked to try the fruit or vegetable the spinner lands on and they can try any of the other offerings once they have tried the initial offering. We trialed our experiment on the after school program at Longfellow Elementary School in Clintonville, WI. We had approximately 65 participants ranging in grades kindergarten through fourth grade. The offerings we presented in the experiment were kiwi, mango, dragon fruit, kohlrabi, and jicama. At each station, the children tried the offering, were told fun facts about the item, got to see it in pictures, and there was whole piece of fruit or vegetable they could investigate. The results we obtained were rather abstract due to the chaos of having so many excited children running from station to station, but we compiled our individual observations and the observations of the teachers that helped out in the experiment. Our hopes are that the AmeriCorp group will take our experiment and implement it into their program for future use.

Aging in Place | Team Members: Brian Fischer, Dana Nelson, Heather Van Kooy, Andy Voss, Scott Zirbel

Our group started our project knowing we wanted to go in the direction of health care/access to health care. What we found after discussion was a common concern among all that as our population ages, the difficult decisions about whether to leave the home for additional health care support and the financial burden and stress that puts on themselves and their families. This resulted in our decision to research the technology that can support individuals and couples staying in their home longer, thus creating a better quality of life, and easing financial burdens. What we found is that there already is an amazing amount of technology that exists that may not be known to people facing this difficult decision. Our hope is to create awareness for people to make informed decisions about themselves or their family’s future. We created a brochure that outlines some of the options and are in the process of discussing the placement of these brochures in area clinics.

CLASS XVII (2016-2017)

From October 2016 – May 2017, LWC Class XVII participants brainstormed, planned, prioritized, and developed strategies to tackle issues they felt were important to Waupaca County and its residents. Following are summaries, in their own words, of their projects and why they chose to work on them as well as links to the videos for each of their presentations.

Volunteer Development | Tiffany Thulien, Kim Manteuffel, Paul Bellile, Lynn Olson, Erica Becker

Our team came together because of a shared passion to give back to the communities with which we live in. The foundation of our project came into greater focus for us during our time in Madison where we received affirmation from several sources that there is a shortfall of volunteers within Waupaca County. This really inspired us to dig deeper into not just addressing the symptom but getting to the heart of the problem which we believe starts with educating and integrating youth on the concept of philanthropy.

Our response to the problem was to create a pilot program for a 5th grade class at the New London Elementary School. The overall goal of the pilot program was to have a captive audience of youth to help them to develop a heart for volunteering as a way to fill a volunteer void in Waupaca County long term.  In order to determine success of the pilot program, we prepare a pre and post survey which certain key words and concepts pertaining to volunteering. The results were very encouraging and confirmed that the pilot program was a success in reaching the hearts and minds of our audience and that certain key concepts were retained.

Lack of Local Treatment for Drug Addiction | Team Members: Lindsay Neuville, Kurt Schwan, Chris Hazen, Susan Younger, Kathie Wittig, Nikki Schroeder

Our team chose the Drug Addiction Awareness topic because we all feel very strongly about what drug addiction is doing to our families, friends and communities.  Drug addiction is no longer just an issue in large cities.  It is a growing epidemic in all areas, including Waupaca County.  As leaders, we feel it is important to increase awareness and provide resources to help address the problem.

We believe that persistence, in making as many people as possible aware of the epidemic, is necessary.  Providing facts, statistics and real life stories tends to capture more attention and attention is what we are striving for.  We believe that the more attention this subject gets, the better the chance of helping to reduce the drug addiction epidemic.  We have provided the facts that we believe are the most influential to both addicts and non addicts.

We want to provide as much knowledge and as many resources as we can to battle this epidemic.  We have researched local facilities and treatment centers and are providing these resources to the public.  Not only for the individuals that have the addiction, but also for their families and the communities in which they live.  We will strive to lead to a less drug addicted population.

Broadband Development | Team Members: Julie Eiden, Chris Paine, Trina Herbst-Gutche, Deric Hahn, Dawn Broderick, Deana Hirte

Our LWC broadband team came together from different backgrounds including business, education, public service, and we all found the lack of adequate internet services in Waupaca County to be a pressing issue. This team undertook various tasks while examining how to proceed; we researched the broadband issue, met with local internet providers, attended UW-Extension’s “Broadband Bootcamp”, and asked local leaders for their opinions on how to best meet the high speed Internet needs of the community.

Ultimately, we partnered with Waupaca County Economic Development Corporation and Waupaca County Planning and Zoning with the help the UW-Extension office and local libraries to conduct a broadband needs assessment survey that began April 1st, 2017 and ended April 30th, 2017. The needs assessment will better position Waupaca County for broadband expansion, public-private partnerships, and aid in applying for future broadband certifications and grants.

Young Professionals | Team Members: Jennifer Spady, Tyler Mueller, Melissa Anderson, Craig Bieri

We as a group collaborated and decided together that there was a lack of young professionals in the County. There was nothing that brought like-minded people together to have experiences with and grow from one another. We also decided, it would be good to have a group that could explore Waupaca County and learn what it has to offer.

We chose this topic because we as a group and individuals wanted to see the different people and experiences Waupaca County has. We wanted to be able to meet people with different professions and learn together and share ideas and collaborate. Living in Waupaca County, we still have not seen all of it or have known about what it can really offer.

The group got together and brain stormed an idea to create a group like neighboring areas had, but only special to Waupaca County. We then decided we wanted to make it Waupaca County and still be able to reach out to surrounding areas. The Group contacted the Waupaca Chamber and discussed possibilities between ourselves. From there we began meeting with the Chamber and started planning an event.

The event was planned and it went very well. There were over 50 people at the event. We discussed names and a future for the group and came up with the name “Rise”. From there we had several more meeting and since then another event and it all went well and now there is a young Professionals group for Waupaca County named “Rise”.