Patty Benedict – Portage County

Patty is a veteran of the Portage County Conservation Department, currently serving as the Administrative Associate II. Additionally, she is the secretary for the Professional Improvement Committee, a member of the Youth Education Committee and Envirothon Subcommittee, and coordinates the WI Land+Water annual raffle. If that’s not enough, Patty still finds time to participates in fun runs, including the Minneapolis YMCA Mini Triathlon (pictured right with her daughter, Casie).

What committee or positions have you held with WI Land+Water committees/positions?  

I am currently the secretary for the Professional Improvement Committee, a position I have held since 2013. I have also been on the Youth Education Committee since it was formed in 2013, and serve on the Envirothon Subcommittee. Over the past three years, I have had the great pleasure of helping out at the Wisconsin Envirothon. Additionally, I have coordinated the annual raffle since the 2013 merger of WLWCA and WALCE.

How long have you been with your county office?

I started in the Land Conservation office in November, 1996, but have been employed by Portage County since January, 1990.

What drew you to conservation work?

Although I had years of office experience, I was pretty green (no pun intended) where conservation is concerned. It was, and continues to be, a “learn as I go” process. I feel fortunate to have met awesome teachers and role models through WI Land+Water and its conservation partners!

What are you currently working on?  

Being toward the end of the year, I am working on paying out cost-share contracts, submitting reimbursements, promoting the Poster and Speaking Contests, and gearing up for the WI Land+Water raffle ticket sales. (Shameless plug here… BUY EARLY, BUY OFTEN!  Proceeds benefit the Scholarship Fund!)

What project are you most proud of?  

In early 2017, I was tasked with submitting an application for an AmeriCorps NCCC team to assist the Central Wisconsin Windshed Partnership (CWWP) and the Portage County Parks Department. The application was approved and we welcomed a team of eight AmeriCorps NCCC volunteers during the month of June. Under Parks Department supervision, the team handpicked garlic mustard at Standing Rocks County Park, and helped the CWWP with all aspects of windbreak and living snow fence establishment and maintenance. All but one of the team members were from the east coast, most from larger cities. They endured the ever-changing Wisconsin summer weather (mostly wet this year), ticks, and mosquitoes. There were introduced to, and loved, cheese curds and Point sodas! We were fortunate to have such an enthusiastic team, interested in the environment, and eager to do their part.

What is the most rewarding aspect of your job?  

I get a lot of personal satisfaction from connecting with students when presenting awards in classrooms for the Poster and Speaking Contests.

What does the future of Wisconsin conservation look like?

I hope for a future with less polarization and more understanding between environmental advocates and agriculture; both crucial elements to our existence.

How would you improve the state of conservation in Wisconsin?  

It will take a lot more than me, but I believe outreach and education is one of the most valuable tools. Reaching out to every age is important, but it is especially critical to engage school age children. Plant the conservation seed and hopefully it spreads faster than an invasive species!

What is one interesting fact about your county that few may know?  

Portage County is home to the Renew the Earth Center, headquarters for the Midwest Renewable Energy Association (MREA), which annually hosts the world’s largest and longest running renewable energy event in June. I’ve lived in Portage County for 30 years and just made my first visit this year. Put a tour of the MREA on your bucket list!

What is your favorite outdoor activity in your county?

Doing fun runs – Point Bock Run, Central Waters River Run… the rewards at the end are worth it!

When you’re not working, what are you doing?  

I’m on the road a lot with my husband, Bob, visiting kids and grandkids in Minneapolis, New Richmond, Waunakee, and Chicago.