On Monday evening, April 8, the auditorium of Nathan Hale High School in West Allis will open its doors not for a spring recital or a student debate, but to the annual public meeting of the Wisconsin Conservation Congress.
Every county in the state, 72 in total, will host meetings at the same time, with a mission of providing citizens the opportunity to weigh in on everything from hunting to habitat. The congress dates back to 1937.
UW-Milwaukee alum Andrew Limmer is a former member of the Wisconsin Conservation Congress. He says the Wisconsin Conservation Congress serves as the liaison between the general public and the natural resources board. Their aim is to protect habitats and conserving land and waterways.
Limmer says the Congress doesn't just represent the hunting and fishing advocates, but all of the public - who need to speak out on conservation issues.
"Everyone has realized now that people who use the outdoors in any way, whether you hike, canoe, hunt, fish, trap, whatever it be, all those numbers are declining," he says. "If we don't start to work together (for) conservation of habitat in general, if we don't work together we're going to lose it all."
The 23-year-old Limmer says he is often one of the youngest faces at these meetings, and it's important, too, for younger residents to get involved. He says anybody can come and address the board for five minutes, which is unique to other conservation congresses around the country. He would like to see all 72 counties represented in one meeting to foster conversation and to compromise.
The Green Bay area native is now on the National Wild Turkey Federation board in Peoria, Illinois. (Written by Eleanor Peterson, edited by Stephanie Lecci)