Thanks to fundraising efforts by the Generating a Greener Future Citizen Action Group, the Beaver Dam Unified School District held its official ribbon-cutting ceremony Wednesday morning (May 29) for the 1,500-square-foot greenhouse/outdoor classroom.
The ribbon-cutting was just days before the two students who spearheaded the project graduated from the high school.
For Stacy Rauscher and Anna Boschert it was a "Paying it Forward" effort that will benefit students attending Beaver Dam High School in the future.
Boschert said, "Our school has a greenhouse that has fallen into disrepair and we were determined to do something about it. We won't have the opportunity to use this greenhouse but it's here for students in the future."
The group, led by students from the District's agricultural education program, raised in excess of $100,000 through private donations from local businesses, community members, and community organizations.
The new facility will offer students from all grade levels advanced opportunities in the areas of environmental and agricultural education.
The learning facility will be maintained by the district's agricultural education program and open to all district students for use.
The "Generating a Green Future" fundraising effort was spearheaded by students Rauscher, Boschert, together with their mothers and advisors Mary Vogl Rauscher and Mary Pat Boschert.
Vogl Rauscher said the group took matters into their own hands because they realize the district did not have the funds for capital improvements. And they think the facility will have a significant effect on the community because of the large portion of the local economy that depends on agriculture.
A PROJECT FOR ALL
"If you live in this community, you will be impacted by this," Vogl Rauscher said. "We are hoping that with this new facility, more students will enroll in agricultural classes and FFA."
The original goal was to raise $75,000 and turn it over to Beaver Dam School District for construction of a facility that will be much more than a greenhouse. The greenhouse includes an environmental science classroom and greenhouse lab.
Like any project, the actual cost of the project was significantly higher, but that didn't stop the eager fund-raisers.
During the ceremonies, school Superintendent Steve Vessey said the 30x50-foot free-standing classroom is an impressive addition to the school and will benefit many students in years to come.
He also points out that the students spearheading the project set a wonderful example for other students in the concept of "paying it forward" for future generations.
In her address to the gathering at the ribbon-cutting ceremony Vogl-Rauscher said her daughter's motivation to attend Beaver Dam High School was the agriculture department.
Her daughter's plan is to become a large-animal veterinarian and the agriculture classes at Beaver Dam helped prepare her for that effort. She wants to see others have the same opportunity.
Vogl-Rauscher said, "This project is really about mothers' love for their daughters."
She said a common theme throughout the effort was, "Many hands make light work."
The two mothers soon found the project was larger than they anticipated but they received a great deal of support from the community.
Among the supporters were Rich and Nancy Zeman of Nancy's Productions, Chad Abel, owner of Northwoods Paper and Ben Westra of WDS Construction who donated the general contractor services.
The Beaver Dam Agri-Business Club got involved so that the group could benefit from the Club's non-profit status when soliciting donations.
Dave Luepke, owner of the Beaver Dam Culver's was the project's first honorary chair. Through his effort, Culver's founder Craig Culver came to speak at the group's kick-off fund-raising banquet.
Jayne Boebel, Beaver Dam Kohl's store manager, was active in FFA and recognized the benefits of that organization. She got involved by helping at numerous events.
Christine Lepple Lindner, a former Beaver Dam FFA officer, state FFA officer and former Alice in Dairyland jumped into the fund-raising effort as well.
Oris and Elaine Possin were big individual supporters of the project. Mrs. Possin is a retired science teacher at the school and the couple donated significantly several times to the effort.
Lisa Karst, an FFA mom, served as the banker for the project. Through her efforts the group secured a $20,000 grant from the Stone Foundation. United Cooperative soon followed as another significant donor.
Besides the donors listed on the plaques and pillars at the facility, the group had individual donations from 31 families, businesses and individuals. Another 14 companies and families purchased fund-raising bricks.