Seal of Dane County County of Dane
Dane County Land & Water Resources Department

Dane County Parks Celebrates 25-Years of Volunteer Program Success!

November 06, 2014
Erika Hotchkiss, Marketing & Outreach Coordinator (608)-224-3762
Land & Water Resources

On Tuesday November 11th, from 5-7p.m. at The Brink Lounge in Madison, Dane County Parks will celebrate the 25th anniversary of its very successful volunteer program. This milestone is a chance to reflect on the work and many accomplishments of these dedicated volunteers.


"Dane County's population now exceeds 500,000 and our Parks receive over 2.5 million visitors a year.  These wonderful natural resources make an ideal laboratory for environmental programming  for things like wildlife habitat, sustainable farming, water quality, ecosystems and cultural history," said Bill Lunney, Dane County Parks Commission Chair. "Developing volunteer opportunities to support our Park system was a big shift for the County. Much of the success of this program is due to the incredible spirit of our citizen volunteers combined with a strong environmental ethic,” stated Lunney. “This foundation was supported by the efforts of the Parks staff and the establishment of a part-time volunteer coordinator position in 1990.  Success has built upon success and we now have a premier program that supports many parks and communities throughout our great County and has become a model for many other local parks in the State."


According to Rhea Stangel-Maier, Volunteer Coordinator with Dane County Parks , the number of volunteers and the hours donated has grown steadily over the years.  “The Friends Groups are leading the way.  There are now events in our parks just about every weekend. Whether working to create prairies and oak savannahs, getting our youth involved with agriculture and outdoor education, or helping build our park infrastructure, our volunteers have a true passion and love for what they do.” 


The first official Dane County volunteer Friends Group was established with Marcella Pendall in 1989 at Schumacher Farm Park, near Waunakee. Over the next 25-years, that number increased to 14 Friends Groups with support from the County and many other partners.


“Dane County is known for its beautiful parks and natural areas that add so much to our quality of life” said Joe Parisi, Dane County Executive, “and for a quarter of a century our volunteers have been an integral part in maintaining and enhancing our trails, wild life areas, and parks. I join the many Dane County residents who spend time outdoors in our parks in thanking the more than 4,000 volunteers who have helped make these places so enjoyable and special.”


The event will include live music, appetizers and refreshments.  Our emcee, WISC-TVs Editorial Director Neil Heinen, will be joined by  many other very special guests. The program will begin at 5:45p.m. and the public is welcome. All proceeds from the event will go to the non-profit, tax deductible Friends of Dane County Parks Endowment Fund and will be used to sustainably provide for educational opportunities, support special projects and programs, and offer learning experiences within the County Parks. We thank our sponsors Dane County Conservation League and Dean Health Plan for making this event possible.