Past news


Was held on Dec 3rd at Two20Main Bistro in Wautoma.  We had twenty-three people attend.  Jeb Barzen from Private Lands Conservation and our annual Prescription Burn instructor, gave a short talk about the ecological need for Prescription Burns on our most endangered ecosystems and learning the safe way to burn prevents the fear and bad publicity caused by a fire escape.  A wonderful meal of flatbread pizza, spinach salad, bread rolls and cookies was served and there was a short business meeting afterword as well as a seed exchange.  See complete minutes of meeting below.



2019 Minutes from Prairie Sands Chapter Annual Holiday Party and Seed Exchange


Present:  Shelley and David Hamel, Beth and Dale Johnson, Dick Hansen, John Shillinglaw, Laurel and Alan Bennett, Ken Erickson, Jill Schuettpellz, Chris and Tom Schaefer, Karen and Fred Wollenburg, Doreen Sonnenberg, Cathy and Bill Frank, Myrna and Martin Schultz, Ralph Woldt, Jeb Barzen, Ray and Dick Goehring


Jeb Barzen, owner of  Private Lands Conservation Services and the instructor for our annual Prescription Burn Classes, was our guest speaker.  He talked about his mutualistic relationship with our Prairie Sands Chapter and TPE.  Every October for the last 3 years, Jeb has shared his years of education and training in ecology and Prescription Burn Science for free with members of the Prairie Sands chapter. In exchange he gets the benefit of trained volunteers to help in the prescription burns for his Healthy Farms program and that helps him meet part of the criteria to qualify for coverage by TPE's insurance.

Jeb also talked about the importance of correctly timed and safely conducted Prescription Burns on critically endangered ecosystems, particularly those dry savannas found in the Prairie Sands region. 

Even though many of us do our own prescription burns he encouraged us to take the course for safety reasons.  Not only to prevent accidents but because of the adverse public relations effect when a fire escapes. An escaped fire is often remembered for decades and creates an atmosphere of fear.

Treasurers report: David Hamel

 PSC has $9,641.85 as of September 30th. The chapter budget paid for the meal, $376.  He went on to talk about the new formula for membership dues allocation with TPE Central. At the current 30% allocation used central TPE has been running a deficit. Their budget has to pay for all the administrative work, grant applications, education, chapter services, and land restoration/maintenance costs while many of the chapters are running surpluses, like Prairie Sands.  It has been agreed by the board that TPE will now allocate 60% of chapter fees toward 

And 40% will go to chapters. They hope this will solve the problem.  See the attached document about dues allocation.

Membership:  Chris Schaeffer reminded us to renew our membership. Several members commented on how difficult it was to pay online through the website. 

Dick Hansen mentioned TPE should make people aware that as they need to cash in their IRA's they can receive tax benefits for contributing some of that money to charitable causes

Silent auction:  Jill Schuettpelz,  who has been in charge of this for the last 2 years, could not commit to going to the TPE conference this year so we are looking for someone from our chapter who will be going to the Feb 29, Annual Conference to set up and coordinate with Evanne Hunt. Dick Hansen said he would be happy to help be drop off point and help get auction items to whoever is attending the conference. Let me know if you plan on going to the conference and if you could take the silent auction stuff.  Deadline to commit to a silent auction table was 12/25, I am hoping we can extend this.  Contact Ray at [email protected].

Jill Schuettpelz once again thanked everyone who showed up at their workday this summer.  She said it was amazing how much work got done on removing buckthorn.

2021Chapter activity schedule:

Ray Goehring will coordinate field trip/ workday schedule so expect an email from her the end of January. (or email her at [email protected] if you want to get on the schedule early)

We talked about partnering with other organizations like Wis Friends of John Muir or Golden Sands with their invasive species efforts. Karen Wollenburg said she would contact Joe Rising at TPE and see what he had in mind. Dich Hansen was not sure where CISMA will be going in future.

The floor was opened for nominations for chapter leadership: chairperson, treasurer, board, membership coordinator.  Since there were none, Ray Goehring will continue to act as Chapter Communications Liaison, Chris Schaeffer will continue as Membership Coordinator, David will continue as Treasurer and he will attend TPE board conference calls when he is available and let Ray know when there is a board meeting scheduled so she can ask the chapter membership if there is a volunteer to attend the meeting.  (Chapter will pay $100 for “in person” meeting attendance.)



Memorial Teleconference call for Anne Woldt.  Ralph Woldt told us that there will be a teleconference memorial service for Anne on Dec 15 between 2 – 5PM.  Anyone who wishes to call in and say something about Anne should call 920 787-1468.




Prescription Burn Training 2019:   Instructor Jeb Barzen said the Prescription Burn Training on October 26 and 27  was, “Excellent”.  He will be sending photos soon.  Thank you to Jeb for offering the class and for Karen and Fred Wollenburg for once again hosting.  We already have the list started for 2020's Prescription Burn Training Class so if you are interested and wish to be on this list please let Ray Goehring know at any time before next October.  Email her at [email protected]



We are heartbroken at the news that our friend and chapter member Ann Woldt has passed away.

Ann was instrumental in the founding of The Prairie Sands Chapter of TPE, serving as our second president and as our representative on the Prairie Enthusiasts board of directors.  She had to drop out of active participation years ago because of advancing MS symptoms and complications.

Condolences to her husband Ralph can be sent to:  M3765 Primrose La, Wautoma, Wi 54982-7877

Ann was an avid photographer.  Her photo of Monarch Butterfly on Ascelpias tuberosa was the cover photograph on the Milkweed seed packets our chapter gave away at our booth at Farm Days and for other chapter functions.



Past events

2019 Prescription Burn Training Class on October 26 and 27 was a complete success according to instructor Jeb Barzen.  He and Rob Nurre taught two simultaneous courses this year--an introductory course to prepare students to work on a prescribed burn crew and a leadership course to begin preparing students for squad boss or fire boss roles.  There were 9 students in the introductory class and 3 in the leadership class.  The class was held at Karen and Fred Wollenburg's property in Dalton, Wi. Photos by Maria Deeren

   Instructors Jeb Barzen (first photo far left) giving field training and Rob Nurre giving classroom instructions.


Photos are by Doreen Sonnenberg



Photo by David HamelDecember 4th was the Annual Chapter Holiday Gathering and Seed Exchange. Twenty-four members and guests of the Prairie Sands Chapter celebrated their annual Holiday Gathering and Seed Exchange at More Healthy Foods & Cafe in Montello. TPE's Gary Eldred and Gary Adams, as well as US Fish and Wildlife's Brendan Woodall were the special guests.

While we ate delicious organic pizza, chapter members, Ben Bomkamp and Kerstyn Perrett of Nature Works LLC gave a presentation/tutorial on iNaturalist and Shelley Hamel presented information on the website: Fire Effects Information System ( which provides scholarly articles on the syntheses between fire ecology and fire regimes in the United States.

We are looking for a new volunteer for the TPE board to replace David Hamel who has been in the position for the last 5 years.  No one volunteered at the meeting, but we voted on and agreed to pay $100 for every in-person board meeting the new volunteer attends as representative of our chapter. The Board meets 8 times throughout the year -- 4 by telephone conference call and 4 in-person meetings.  If you have any interest or questions about the position contact David Hamel at [email protected]

We also voted on and approved a $200 budget for a portable outdoor microphone system for chapter field trips.

Jill Schuettzpelz is our silent auction coordinator for the TPE Annual Conference on March 2.  Cathy Franks will help coordinate getting auction donations to Jill in Madison before the event.  More information will be emailed.  If you have a donation email Jill at: [email protected]

To see complete meeting minutes, click here. Photo is of the Holiday Party taken by David Hamel.

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