MADISON – Despite being hundreds of miles from the capital city and enduring another winter of snow and cold, the people of Northern Wisconsin continue to demonstrate the hardiness and determination that underlies so much of what makes the part of the state we call home so special.
Over the last few weeks, my colleagues in Madison have been visited by an incredible assortment of business owners and employees, local elected officials, concerned citizens and students from northern Wisconsin. Earlier this month, I was pleased to spend time with the people who made the trip from Barron, Rusk, Sawyer, and Washburn counties to participate in the Heart of the North Legislative Day. Legislators from across Wisconsin heard from articulate advocates on issues such as increased funding for public schools and transportation aid.
I was especially impressed with the students who spoke about the importance of special education and mental health services in their schools, as well as the workforce housing shortage across northern Wisconsin. Their enthusiasm is contagious and a promising sign for the future. They were prepared, passionate, and well-spoken and did a great job!
Another group of students who did a great job representing northern Wisconsin were the young people who participated in the annual Superior Days. This grassroots lobbying effort is an often copied, but rarely equaled effort to increase awareness and build support for issues important to people in areas that often don’t get the attention they deserve. In addition to the students, there are delegates representing an incredible cross section of the people and businesses that make Wisconsin’s Lake Superior region such a great place to live.
My thanks to all the participants and supporters of Superior Days, particularly those that came down for the “Best of the Northwest” product parade to share their stories and products - Earth Rider Brewery and White Winter Winery, Essentia Health, WITC Superior, University of Wisconsin Superior, Dairyland Power, LHB - to name a few.
Across northern Wisconsin, I see students engaging with community members, sharing their interests and perspectives, and voicing their informed opinions at every level of government. A great example of this is Hayden Suske-Funk, who was in Madison this week as part of the Senate Scholar Program. This week long program provides juniors and seniors in high schools with an opportunity to learn the ins and outs of how the legislature really works.
Haydn wrote to me, asking me to sponsor him for the program. I was able to spend some time with him during the week, and found him to be an eager and bright student with a sincere passion for environmental ecology. I am sure that Hayden’s family and friends are incredibly proud of him, just like I am proud of all the people from northern Wisconsin who have taken the time out of their busy schedules to come to the Capitol and advocate for our communities.