Protecting environmentally significant lands in Waukesha County
Mike Fort: Volunteer of the Year!
Buckthorn beware...Mike Fort is coming!
Mike has probably cut more buckthorn than any other person in Waukesha County and much cutting was done on Waukesha Land Conservancy property. Non-native buckthorn is the greatest ecological threat we have to the Conservancy's holdings and is our top management issue. Mike's crusade against buckthorn stems from his deep conviction that something has to be done to save hundreds of native plants that are being eliminated by competition from this alien species.
The Waukesha Land Conservancy is indeed lucky to have Mike on our volunteer work crew. He has many other opportunities for volunteering, but he chooses us because he believes in our cause. As a former pilot for Midwest Express Airlines for 22 years, he has seen the rapid development of southeast Wisconsin. Mike "appreciates volunteering with an organization like WCLC that works to preserve open space for future generations. Besides," he says, "the physical labor give me exercise and I enjoy the company of like-minded people." (Of course, the fact that he provides chocolate chip cookies on every workday also wins him friends!)
Mike lives in Wales with his wife, Yvonne, who supports his volunteer efforts. Their son, Jason, is an environmental engineer in Libertyville, IL, and daughter, Melissa, is a sophmore psychology major at Northern Illinois University in Dekalb.
Mike's love for the outdoors is traced back to growing up in South Dakota and spending vacations in a cabin in the Black Hills. In those days he enjoyed hunting and fishing with his father. Nowadays he spends his free time bird watching, backpacking, camping, cutting buckthorn and taking saunas (he is part Finnish). He also volunteers to work on the Ice Age Trail and is actively restoring prairies and savannas at Lapham State Park.
It takes all kinds of people to make the Waukesha Land Conservancy work: sympathetic members, fundraisers, lawyers, bankers, scientists and buckthorn cutters.
We all share a common cause, and we each contribute in our own special way. We could not exist without this teamwork.