Lake Michigan Day & Champions of Conservation Environmental Awards

Wisconsin Maritime Museum

75 Maritime Drive

Manitowoc, Wisconsin


8:00 am: Table Displays Set Up

8:00 to 9:00 am: Registration, Coffee Social, Poster Session, and Networking

9:00 to 9:15 am: Welcomes and Introductions: Todd Holschbach, The Nature Conservancy, and Rolf Johnson, Wisconsin Maritime Museum

9:15 to 10:15 am: Keynote: Cameron Davis with introduction by Mike Carlson, Gathering Waters – How do we collectively champion Lake Michigan, support GLRI funding, and further enhance Great Lakes literacy

10:15 to 10:30 am: Break

10:30 to 11:30 am: Importance to our Cities of Great Lakes Restoration – Panel led by former Racine Mayor John Dickert, now Executive Director of the St. Lawrence Great Lakes Cities Initiative.  Panelists to include: Port Washington Mayor Tom Mlada, Sheboygan Mayor Mike Vandersteen, and Manitowoc Mayor Justin Nickels.

11:30 to 11:45 am: Q&A for Cameron Davis and the Mayors Panel 

11:45 to 12:00 noon: Collective Messaging for Great Lakes Literacy – an update from the LMS member watershed groups working on collective messaging.

12:00 to 1:00 pm: Catered Lunch

1:00 to 2:00 pm: Champions with introductions by Vicki Elkin, Fund for Lake Michigan

2:30 to 4:30 pm: Optional Boat Tour by the Skyline Princess (registration required)


Lake Michigan Champions of Conservation

2017 Champions:

Individuals: Wendy Lutzke and Cathy Pabich

Business: Trout Springs Winery

Organization: Wisconsin Clean Marina Program

Lake Michigan Policy Maker: Senator Tammy Baldwin


In 2016, it was held at The Wisconsin Maritime Museum in Manitowoc, Friday, August 12.

Check out the media coverage of the event

In 2016, the event featured keynote speakers Kim Marotta, Director of Sustainability at Miller-Coors and Todd Ambs, Director of Healing Our Waters. A panel moderated by Nicole Van Helden of The Nature Conservancy featured perspectives on water resource policies and technologies with Jerry Halverson (Manitowoc County Soil and Water Conservation Dept Director), Bill Hafs (NEW Water Director of Environmental Programs) and Rachel Rushmann (Wisconsin Dept of Ag, Trade and Consumer Protection Nutrient Management Coordinator).

Vickie Elkin from the Fund for Lake Michigan presented the 2016 Lake Michigan Champions of Conservation Awards at lunch, followed by an afternoon presentation by the five mayors and city administrators from Manitowoc, Port Washington, Two Rivers, Mequon and Sheboygan, along with a representative from NOAA, offering their perspectives on the proposed Wisconsin National Marine Sanctuary. Throughout the day, 115 participants from throughout the lakeshore region and beyond helped make the 3rd annual event a rousing success.

Champions of Conservation Award Winners:


We congratulate our 2016 Lake Michigan Champions of Conservation, pictured above from left to right, Port Washington Mayor Tom Mlada, Mark Weber of Lakeshore Tae Kwon Do, John Kennedy, Jon Gumtow and Melissa Curran of Stantec Consulting Services. LNRP Executive Director Jim Kettler and Todd Holschbach, The Nature Conservancy at far right, congratulated the Champions. Please see further details below. (Photo, Alisa M. Schafer, Herald-Times Reporter)

An inaugural tour of the new exhibit, Wisconsin’s Underwater Treasures, followed the program.

Lake Michigan Day showcases opportunities for continued restoration and protection of this vital resource and the broader Great Lakes region.


Champions of Conservation Awards with presented by LNRP and Lake Michigan Stakeholders


August 2016 awards:

  • Individual Award: John Kennedy, Water Resources Protection. John spent the last 12 of 29 years as Environmental Programs Manager with the Green Bay Metropolitan Sewerage District where he launched, maintained and grew one of the largest freshwater databases on the Great Lakes.
  • Business Award: Stantec Consulting Services, Water Resources Protection. For many years, Jon Gumtow has been actively building private-public partnerships to help launch and carry out restoration projects to clean our waterways, improve access, remove invasive species and restore ridge and swale ecosystems and beach habitats. Melissa Curran leads a volunteer group at The Ridges Sanctuary to re-establish rare orchids in Door County and leads workshops.
  • Organization Award: Lakeshore Tae Kwon Do, Water Resources Protection. Since 2012, founder and instructor Mark Weber has engaged his students in Friends of the Manitowoc beach cleanups twice a year at Red Arrow Beach in Manitowoc, keeping hundreds of pounds of litter out of Lake Michigan.
  • Special Recognition: Port Washington Mayor Tom Mlada for his extensive efforts to promote environmental stewardship and sustainability throughout his tenure, projects benefiting Lake Michigan and the area’s quality of life.

August 2015 awards:

  • Individual Award: Brian Russart, Land Use Protection/Habitat Restoration. Brian is the Natural Areas Coordinator for Milwaukee County Parks.
  • Individual Award: Will Wawrzyn, Water Resource Protection. Will is a Wisconsin DNR retired senior fisheries biologist.
  • Organizational Award:  Cat Island Advisory Committee led by Vicky Harris.
  • Special Recognition: US Congressman Reid Ribble. He has been a supporter for the full funding of the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative and many projects in Northeast Wisconsin.
August 2014 awards:
  • Individual Champion of Conservation: Shawn Graff for his impressive achievements as executive director of the Ozaukee Washington Land Trust, overseeing its extensive preservation projects and transforming the Squires Golf Course into the Forest Beach Migratory Preserve
  • Business Champion of Conservation: Tyco for its diligent cleanup and efforts of the Lower Menominee River in Marinette, helping it get delisted as an Area of Concern following soil, groundwater and river sediment contamination from its predecessor’s manufacturing practices from WWII to the 1970s
  • Special Recognition Champion of Conservation: US Congressman Tom Petri for decades of support for conservation

Spring 2013 awards:

  • Champion of Environmental Education and Outreach, and Champion of Champions: Charles “Chuck” Sontag and his 40 plus years of teaching, mentoring, and monitoring in southern Manitowoc County
  • Champion of Water Resources: Jim Knickelbine, Director of the Woodland Dunes Nature Center, for his significant efforts and dedication to improving the West Twin River and the many other waters of Wisconsin
  • Champion of Land Use Protection and Habitat Restoration:  Charles Bouc for his lifelong passion and commitment to conservation practices on his farm and adjacent road banks and waterways

Spring 2012 awards:

  • Champion of Environmental Education and Outreach: Fred Depies and his work on the local food movement, grazing, and environmental networking
  • Champion of Water Resources Protection and Champion of Champions:  Ox Bow Sportmans  Club for their life long work on the Brillion Wildlife Sanctuary, Killsnake, and other tributaries of the Manitowoc River
  • Champion of Land Use Protection and Habitat Restoration:  Ron Schaper for his most recent work at the LTC Old Growth Forest but also for helping establish the Fischer Creek Conservation Area and Point Creek Conservation Area

Spring 2011 awards:

  • Champion of Environmental Education and Outreach and Champion of Champions: Kelly Eskew-Vorron and her exceptional work in developing programming for Manitowoc County schools and community groups
  • Champion of Water Resources Protection: Vickie Mayer and her body of work across a wide variety of environmental issues in the Branch River Basin and the State of Wisconsin
  • Champion of Land Use Protection and Habitat Restoration: Richard Becker and his life-long work in creating and enhancing Manitowoc County habitats

Spring 2010 awards:

  • Champion of Water Resources Protection and Champion of Champions: Carl Scholz and his body of work across a wide variety of environmental issues in Door County
  • Champion of Land Use Protection and Habitat Restoration: Kay and Wayne Craig and their conversion of a farm to an organic grazing operation in Calumet County
  • Champion of Environmental Education and Outreach: Coggin Heeringa and her body of work at Crossroads at Big Creek in Door County

Fall 2009 awards:

  • Champion of Champions: Kewaunee County Groundwater Guardians and their work in educating youth and developing outreach materials for groundwater protection
  • Water Resources Champion: Chuck Wagner and his work on groundwater protection, woodland management, and commitment to civil service
  • Land Use Protection and Habitat Restoration Champion: Terri Lyon and her work as the Beetle Lady in the fight against purple loosestrife in the Lakeshore Basin

Spring 2009 awards:

  • Champion of Champions: Russ Tooley representing Centerville Cares and their work on quality monitoring on Point and Fischer Creeks in southern Manitowoc County
  • Water Resources Champion: Carol Entringer and her work on English Lake in Manitowoc County
  • Land Use Protection and Habitat Restoration Champion: Izaack Walton League of Brown County and their work on engaging youth in the protection of a 81 acre parcel on the East River
  • Environmental Education and Outreach: Armond Kueter and his long-standing contributions to the Conservation Education, Inc. (CEI)

Fall 2008 awards:

  • Champion of Champions: Helen Dicke-Krivacek for her life-long commitment to Woodland Dunes Nature Center
  • Water Resources Champion: David Pozorski and his single-handed restoration of Silver Lake in Manitowoc County
  • Land Use Protection and Habitat Restoration Champion: Bernie Brouchoud for founding Woodland Dunes Nature Center