Izabella Mitchell of AV-W Wins Vilas County Poster Contest

Written by Cathy Higley

The winner of the 2021 Vilas County Land & Water Conservation Poster Contest is Izabella Mitchell of Arbor Vitae – Woodruff Elementary School. The Vilas County Youth Conservation Poster Contest is held annually to promote youth awareness of local land and water conservation issues. Vilas County Land & Water staff partner with teachers, home schoolers, and other educators to offer lessons that meet academics standards. This year’s theme of “Healthy Forests, Healthy Communities” meant a virtual lesson on forest management, multi-use management, and a virtual interview with the DNR’s Vilas County Forester Jill Nemec.

“With the covid pandemic, many educators are working long hours to stay on top of students’ learning.  Thank you to Mr. Wauters and Mrs. Dunsmoor for promoting the contest to their students in spite of their workload,” complements Cathy Higley, the contest coordinator with Vilas County Land & Water.

The Olson Memorial Library managed poster intake and the People’s Choice Award voting.  Voting will be open until the end of January 2021 on the Olson Memorial Library website.  Vote for your favorite poster!

The Vilas County Lakes and Rivers Association offered to up the ante this year on prizes for students.  The Discovery Center and The Waters of Minocqua also contributed to prizes.  Prizes included:  4 day passes to The Waters of Minocqua, a certificate to Discovery Center programming; a 2021 DNR State Parks & Forests Annual Pass; and a Whitewater boardgame.

Volunteer judges Ryan Brown (DNR Forestry); Emily Heald (Discovery Center); and Nancy Schwartz (Land O’Lakes Arts) dedicated their time to offer scoring and feedback to all students on their posters.  Thank you to all who helped make this contest happen in spite of the pandemic!

The winning poster created by Izabella Mitchell will move on to compete with nine other county winners in WI.  Congratulations Izabella!

Any educators interested partnering with the Vilas County Youth Conservation Poster or Speaking contests for the 2021-2022 school year can contact Cathy Higley with Vilas County Land & Water Conservation at cahigl@vilascountywi.gov or 715-479-3738.

Standings for Division Grades 4-6
Student Name  School Place
Izabella Mitchell AVW Elementary 1
Maya Anderson AVW Elementary 2
Kendra Jeschke AVW Elementary 3
Sylviann Berklund AVW Elementary Honorable mention
Aubree Williams AVW Elementary Honorable mention
Victoria Reichel AVW Elementary Top 10
Miranda Schneider AVW Elementary Top 10
Avalon Collins AVW Elementary Top 10
Nahla Sloan AVW Elementary Top 10
Zackary Amershek AVW Elementary Top 10


Cathy Higley is the Invasive Species Coordinator at Vilas County Land & Water Department and also serves as an adviser to VCLRA.

Happy Holidays!

Finally we can say goodbye to 2020!  Each of us faced unprecedented challenges that truly reshaped our focus and priorities.

VCLRA, like so many others, found new ways to connect with our community and coworkers so we could press on with our work and make an impact. Due to the pandemic, we tailored our approach to engage and inform through zoom meetings, virtual events, and expanded online digital learning experiences. Fortunately, we had set a goal to strengthen our ability to connect with people by adopting new web technology even before the pandemic. While we look forward to the time when it is safe to return to in-person events, these new approaches will continue to provide alternate pathways to effectively connect with others (especially younger audiences). We will therefore continue to look for opportunities to improve our organization’s virtual presence.

While we have not met face to face for many months now, I am proud to report that we still were able to award a youth scholarship to a local high school student, make a virtual presentation of a Blue Heron Shoreland Stewardship Award, co-host a virtual lakes workshop, roll out the new GREET initiative for Lake Associations, partner with Vilas County Land and Water Conservation to launch the Northwoods Businesses for Clean Waters program, publish and distribute our two annual print newsletters, post a number of articles and videos on our website, and many other accomplishments.

As we move into a new year, we look forward to continuing to work for the protection of our Vilas County lake and river heritage with our partners and supporting member families and lake organizations. Our world is certainly different right now, but we can still realize the value of working together. Connect with us today through membership and also share what’s on your mind through email or our website contact form. We’d love to have a chance to get to know you better, hear about your ideas and concerns, and share some of our thoughts and plans.

Remember to renew your VCLRA membership! Much of our work is funded by generous support from our member families and lake organizations.

As I close, there is a new sense of hope as effective Covid-19 treatments appear on the horizon. I hope your New Year is happy, healthy and full of normal!

Tom Ewing
VCLRA president

Debbie Millar (Ballard Lake) receives Blue Heron Award

The Vilas County Lakes and Rivers Association (VCLRA) awarded our Blue Heron Shoreland Stewardship Award to Debbie Millar of Ballard Lake for restoration completed on her lakefront property. This award was presented at our “Celebrate the Lakes Day” on July 10, 2020 via Zoom Conference Call. Congratulations to Debbie Millar!

Read more “Debbie Millar (Ballard Lake) receives Blue Heron Award”

Our June 2020 newsletter is available

Our latest newsletter (June 2020) is now available. It is notable for being the first newsletter published since the Covid-19 outbreak.  Our board continues to work remotely on the issues that are so important to our lake community. We are very appreciative of our many members who have already renewed, as well as the generous donations we have received. Your steadfast support during these challenging times enables us to continue our mission to protect our lakes and rivers. Read our latest newsletter for all the details about our work during this unique period in our 25 year history.

Read our latest newsletter

Note from the President

The corona virus (Covid-19) has created an unprecedented global health and economic crisis. In this moment in time, we have in common with all other people on our planet the same fear, anxiety and stress over its impacts on the health of our family and friends, as well as its consequences for our society and economy.

Yet I look out the window and see an entirely peaceful and calming scene, seemingly detached from the human toll worldwide. It is amazing to look at our lakes and their natural surroundings and see that the natural world does not appear to have noticed our crisis or been impacted at all. Well, the skies are maybe a little clearer. Read more “Note from the President”

Special COVID-19 Alert

Vilas County issues advisory to seasonal homeowners.

On March 20, 2020, the Vilas County Public Health Official declared that a Public Health Emergency exists in Vilas County. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the national spread of the COVID-19 virus, Vilas County Government issued the following inter-county Travel Advisory. It urged seasonal or second home owners to stay away from the area due to high community transmission in outside areas. It also noted the very limited healthcare infrastructure in Vilas County and the high population of older adults that are most vulnerable as other factors for issuing the advisory.

Read more “Special COVID-19 Alert”

2020 Wisconsin Lakes and Rivers Online Learning Event

Focusing on Resilient Lakes and Rivers is the theme for this year’s annual Lakes & River Convention. The lakes focus of this annual event has been broadened to include rivers and streams, in recognition of the importance of a full watershed approach to caring for our natural waters.

The event will be held on April 1-3, as originally planned; however, the format has been shifted from a in-person convention to an Online Learning Event due to the coronavirus.

Read more “2020 Wisconsin Lakes and Rivers Online Learning Event”

Noah Miller awarded 2019 VCLRA Scholarship

Part of our effort to preserve our natural waters for future generations is to encourage youth to discover and protect our natural world. Each year we are excited to award a scholarship to a local high school graduating senior interested in continuing their education in a conservation or related field.

This year, we are pleased to recognize Northland Pines High School senior Noah Miller as our 2019 VCLRA scholarship award recipient.

Read more “Noah Miller awarded 2019 VCLRA Scholarship”

New study shows the economic impact of clean lakes

As a follow up to investigations into the economic value of waterfront properties in Oneida and Vilas Counties, researchers from UW-Eau Claire, researched the link between water clarity and the sale prices of waterfront homes. This research project was proposed by the Vilas County Land & Water Conservation Dept. and the Oneida and Vilas County Lakes and Rivers Associations, and funded by grants from the Lumberjack RC&D and the UWEC Office of Research and Sponsored Programs.

Read more “New study shows the economic impact of clean lakes”