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For Best Results, Get Hands-On
Last Updated: 2/26/2013
Anyone can say they want to live a more “green” lifestyle, but here’s your chance to follow through on those good intentions by signing up for one of the myriad of hands-on workshops offered by Travel Green Wisconsin certified businesses around the state. The topics are as diverse as wind energy for your home to becoming a woman of the outdoors. Dig in!
Explore an Eco Fair
The Midwest Renewable Energy Fair has been around for 22 years and attracts about 20,000 attendees each year. Be among the crowd by marking your calendar for the third weekend in June when it is always held. Most times it’s staged at the Midwest Renewable Energy Association’s home base in Custer. The fair is a great place to get your feet wet with scaled-down education workshops, but the more detailed workshops, some 250 in all and running anywhere from one day to two weeks, go on all year round. The newest one, which debuts in the fall, is on solar charging for electric vehicles. There’s also an introductory course on wind power for people who have an interest in creating a wind system for their home or small business.
EcoFair 360 is staged annually in the Lake Geneva area and features hundreds of exhibitors and presenters. This three-day fair has offerings on organic gardening, building your own electric car, creating eco-art, developing a community-owned solar farm, even workshops for kids – the sheer volume of presentations will surprise you. New to the fair is their film festival, with documentaries screened in a structure built specifically for the fair – a 16-foot diameter geodesic dome equipped with a home theater system. The whole goal of the fair is to educate people on scalable solutions for renewable energy so they can develop sustainable lifestyles. Outside the fair, online webinars are being planned to keep the green vibe going on topics ranging from managing your energy bill to starting a community green challenge. The event and webinars are the work of Fritz Kreiss and Catherine McQueen, husband and wife who started the Eco-Vision Sustainable Learning Center which will be housed in their Green Leaf Inn, a sustainable luxury hotel they’re building in Delavan.
Sign Up for a Workshop
Marguerite and Bob Ramlow own the Artha Sustainable Living Center in Amherst, which is part eco-friendly B&B and part workshop center. The Center is located on 90 acres of woods, fields and organic gardens and the B&B is built with sustainable materials and powered by the sun. If you’re a plumber, architect or engineer interested in solar thermal systems, sign up for the Thermal Installer Boot Camp Training. It’s taught by Bob, who is one of two master trainers in North America and the author of what is considered the definitive book on solar water heating. Or if you’re into herbal beauty and bath products, take in one of the workshops on those topics. You’ll go home with your own products and recipes. Or, as Marguerite suggests, create your own workshop. “We have groups of friends who get together here annually for workshops that are of special interest to them.”
At the Treehaven Education Center, a 1,400-acre forest and wetland facility operated by the University of Wisconsin – Stevens Point, you can sign up for programs in no-trace backpacking, canoeing, snowshoe weaving, wolf study, nature photography and more. The Center has been offering workshops since the mid-1980s and their classes attract people from all over the U.S. One workshop that’s intriguing by name alone is BOW, short for Becoming an Outdoors Woman. This weekend workshop has been going strong for 20 years now, offering participants hands-on classes in fishing, kayaking, shooting sports and plant identification. Beginners are welcome.
The Woodland School
The Aldo Leopold Foundation in Baraboo is sacred ground for anyone inspired to follow in the footsteps of the man considered by many to be the father of wildlife management, Aldo Leopold. His investigations into ecology and the philosophy of conservation are even more relevant today and form the foundation for the workshops offered as part of the Foundation’s Woodland School. According to Steve Swenson, field ecologist there, participants are literally out in the field for the hands-on portions of classes on prescribed prairie burns, hunting, and wildlife and plants. Most of the classes are held in the spring and fall. For college students pursuing studies in conservation and science, the Foundation offers nine-month land stewardship internships with the property serving as the outdoor classroom to become proficient in land management.
Adventures in Mushing
Head to northern Wisconsin and the south shore of Lake Superior to Bayfield where you’ll find Wolfsong Adventures in Mushing, a Travel Green Wisconsin certified business run by Mary and John Thiel offering day and overnight dog sled trips. You’ll learn how to drive your own team of dogs or you can ride along with one of the guides, the choice is yours. “Most of our guests have never done anything like this before but have dreamed about it all their lives,” said Mary. The Thiels have 49 Siberian huskies ranging in age from puppies to near retirement 14-year-olds. The half-day outings include a hot picnic lunch on the trail. “This is an adventure that’s easy on the environment and entertaining at the same time,” explained Mary. “People make the connection with the dogs and that’s the magic of it. They often say it’s the best day outside in the winter they’ve ever had.” Wolfsong Adventures in Mushing was named one of the “10 Great Places to Go Dog Sledding” by USA Today.This entry was posted in Entertainment and Attractions