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It's your place for engaging stories of the people that make Wisconsin feel like home.

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My Wisconsin Water

We all have our own reasons for loving Wisconsin. For John Galligan, it’s the water. He tells us how he found his connection to the state.

John Galligan is a teacher and novelist in Madison.

Photo: John Galligan 

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A Life in Gourds

Humans have used gourds for a variety of purposes for centuries. Artist Terri Schmit didn’t even know what a gourd was until she met her future husband. She’s since become the “gourd girl,” creating art and teaching others about this fascinating fruit. Judith Siers-Poisson has the story. 

Photo: Terri Schmit

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St. Martin’s Island

The Nature Conservancy’s Mike Grimm regularly walks this island sanctuary where most people will never step foot. Mike explores this newly acquired island for the National Fish and Wildlife Service to provide the agency with a complete inventory of migratory bird use of the island and to better understand importance of these islands for migratory birds.

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Off the Grid

Harvey Baumgartner’s decision to live in a sod home sans electricity and indoor plumbing was a conscious choice, based on practicality and philosophy. He is profoundly committed to conservation.  Harvey is always willing to help a neighbor, yet quite content to tend to his goats, chickens, horses, mules, and his organic gardens. 

Click here to learn more about Harvey’s off the grid lifestyle and then check out this segment to see how Harvey takes his minimalist lifestyle on the open road. 

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Citizen Stream Monitor

Across the country, trained volunteers monitor the condition of local streams, lakes, and wetlands. Writer Mary Ellen Gabriel tells us about the stream she watches with her sons and the experience of doing citizen science. 

Mary Ellen Gabriel is a writer in Madison. 

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Loon Ranger

Alan Schwoegler is a retired Rhinelander man who has joined the ranks of the “Loon Rangers,” a group of citizens in northern Wisconsin who participate in Northland College’s Loon Watch program.  Alan is one of the citizen volunteers who are the eyes and ears for state conservation officials… collecting data to help protect and support loons. 

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Nest in Peace

While backyard birders may enjoy hosting nesting birds, birds do not always build their nests in convenient locations. Mike Paulus has been fighting his avian neighbors for years now.

Mike Paulus is the online editor for the arts and culture magazine Volume One. A version of this story appeared in Volume One in April 2013. 

Photo: photoholic1

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 Professor of Pollination

Claudio Gratton has always felt that bees are, well, the “bee’s knees”. Now, the University of Wisconsin-Madison researcher has become something of an insect CSI investigator as he follows the science to discover whether or not native Wisconsin bees can be as effective in pollinating crops and flowers as the honey bee population – which has been dwindling in numbers for the past several years. 

Claudio says we can all take some simple steps to encourage wild bees to pollinate… find out how.

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Friend of the River

Branda Thwaits has a deep passion for the Namekagon River. Now as a U.S. National Parks Ranger, she gets to live her dream – sharing her love of the river as a guide with park visitors.

While Branda has a passion for the Namekagon River, it’s just one of many rivers, streams and  lakes to enjoy in our state.  Nature writer Jill Sisson Quinn describes the allure of Wisconsin’s lakes.

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Playing Possum

We celebrate Earth Day this week. Many animals have evolved the ability to feign death. Writer Jill Sisson Quinn witnessed this unusual act of survival in a groundhog.  

Jill Sisson Quinn is a writer in Central Wisconsin.  

Photo: Jonathan Crow

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Sheboygan Surfers

Ordinarily, you’d find hardcore surfers in California or Hawaii. But Alex Marks and his friends live to catch waves – and dodge ice chunks – in Lake Michigan. Sheboygan is home to their beaches of choice, winter is their optimum time to surf, and on a good day, they only need a board and a 5mm thick rubber suit to brave the elements. Watch as these Midwestern surfers break Great Lake waves.

After the segment, click here to learn how Sheboygan has come to be known as the “Malibu of the Midwest” in the surfing world. 

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Hunting Partners

Dan Orth of Fairchild has been hunting since he was a boy, but his hunting skills can’t compare to those of his hunting partner, a Goshawk named ‘Daisy’. Relying on Daisy’s keen sight and speed, Dan sets out to catch pheasants and other small game the old-fashioned way. 

Check out additional photos of these stunning birds.

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Paddleboard Yoga

It was a bike accident that first brought Maureen Hebl to yoga, but the peace and serenity that yoga provided was what kept her hooked. Now, she’s a busy instructor holding classes at Madison studios, community centers and giving private lessons. She adds a surprising variation to her traditional practice by doing yoga on a stand-up paddleboard while on water – connecting her and her students more closely to the nature around them. 

And paddleboards go way beyond yoga… Stand-up paddleboarding is one of the fastest growing water sports and is making its way to Wisconsin’s rivers and lakes.

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Trilliums: Jewels of a Wisconsin Spring

Trilliums are the jewels of the forest floor. For Gail Folkins, spotting trilliums in Wisconsin reminded her of growing up in Washington State. The flower’s distinctive three petals made her feel right at home.

Gail Folkins is the author of Texas Dance Halls and teaches at UW-Stevens Point.

Photo: monophysite57-zzz 

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Just a Chicken

Chickens have become common backyard animals in areas urban and rural. Chicken-sitting for neighbors, writer Heidi Hodges considered the relationship between humans and animals.

Heidi Hodges is a photographer and the editor of Door County Magazine.

Photo: Wout 

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