Growing up on a dairy farm in southwestern Wisconsin laid the foundation that drove Buffalo County Conservationist, Brooke Muhlack to a career in conservation. Now with the county for just under three years, Brooke and her county conservation department have been busy restoring bluff prairies and trout streams, monitoring water quality, assisting landowners in managing nutrients and installing conservation practices, and cleaning up civilian conservation camps. We asked Brooke to share her experiences and thoughts on the future of conservation.
What drew you to Conservation work?
It was drilled into my brain while growing up that we need to conserve what topsoil we have for future generations. My dad was a die-hard no till man and planned accordingly where manure was to be applied. He wanted a better life for his children, so we moved off the farm in 1999, but my heart it was always still there. I went to school at UW-Platteville for engineering at first, but found it lacked what I wanted to do. I ended up finding my path and received a degree in Reclamation, Environment and Conservation, which encompassed soil and water conservation as well as restoration ecology.
What project are you most proud of?
My first waterway I built, and the revisions to the reclamation program
What is the most rewarding aspect of your job?
Hearing the words “Thank you”, or seeing the conservation put on the ground by not only our department but across the state working and functioning in the intention it was to be.
What does the future of Wisconsin conservation look like?
We always have to latch on to the next best thing, and try to be at least 3 steps forward in the future. As being the Dairy State and America’s Dairyland, we need to uphold that.
How would you improve the state of conservation in Wisconsin?
Increase education to the general public. Yes, they understand the components to soil erosion, but how does normal human activity impact it? Urban and rural both need facelifts when it comes to the educational portion to conservation; urban, people like rain gardens and rain barrels, but what else can they do? What other options are there to protect surface and groundwater? How can they help reduce soil compaction? Why does everyone need a green Kentucky bluegrass front yard? Why not a native prairie seeding? Rural, how can a landowner protect his or her woodland? Or that once bluff prairie, how can they restore that? Why is my neighbor burning that weedy knoll I would farm? EDUCATION=POWER.
What is one interesting fact about your county that few may know?
What is your favorite outdoor activity in your county?
Fishing, hiking. Mainly fishing.
When you’re not working, you’re…
Fishing or baking cheesecakes or cookies or pies or watering plants or grilling or making trifles… you get the picture. Baking.