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A flock of pelicans floats around in the Horicon Marsh, unaware of the farming activity nearby and the hikers on a nearby trail.

A flock of pelicans floats around in the Horicon Marsh, unaware of the farming activity nearby and the hikers on a nearby trail. Photo By Gloria Hafemeister

Ribbon-cutting ceremony at Horicon Marsh

June 13, 2013 | 0 comments

HORICON

The official ribbon-cutting ceremony for the 1400-foot boardwalk at the Horicon Marsh International Education Center took place on Wednesday afternoon, June 5, with the mother of the person who inspired the project cutting the ribbon.

Jacqueline Hollenberg-Barnes, formerly of Wisconsin and now residing in Alabama, says her daughter, Deanna Hollenberg, was instrumental in growing the student education program at the Horicon Marsh International Education Center.

Hollenberg, assistant naturalist at the Horicon Marsh State Wildlife Area, was killed in a car accident in 2000. The accident happened after she left an event at the Center and was returning home. Her car was struck by a drunk driver.

Her mother says Deana felt strongly that there should be a boardwalk on the Marsh near the Education Center to enhance the experience of wildlife education programs and visitors alike.

She says, "We are happy to see her legacy and her passion for education live on. It means a lot to us to see her dream come true."

In 2001, Deana’s family gifted a memorial to the Friends of the Horicon Marsh International Education Center to see the boardwalk project come to life.

The Friends continued to receive gifts designated for the boardwalk but there were not enough funds to get the project off the ground.

Eventually, 10 years after the effort began, there were enough donations to make the project a reality.

Leslie Covell Hershberger, executive director of the Friends group, said the donations also included funding from the Robert March family, John Deere Horicon Works, a donation in memory of Mary Gardner Sullivan, Horicon Phoenix Group, a donation in memory of Richard Larson; Jack and Holly Bartholmai; Joyce and Wayne McCellar; a gift in honor of Bob Weiss; Arthur and Nina Gloede, a gift in memory of Dale Adams and many other donations to the Friends group.

The vision remained alive and three years ago there was a renewed push for the boardwalk project with the help of the Bachhuber Foundation and Knowles-Nelson Stewardship grant.

Deana’s family remembers her as an enthusiastic educator who wanted to help young people learn more about nature.

Her mother says, "She developed many educational programs that would meet the school curriculum. She would go into the schools with the yellow bag and pull things out to show the students. Then she would invite them to come out to the marsh to see things first hand."

She says, "She was known for her ‘yellow bag of tricks’ and from that came the travelling trunk idea."

NATURE EDUCATION

Liz Herzmann is now the naturalist at the Education Center and says the travelling trunks are available to groups and schools. The trunks are filled with materials related to a particular topic.

Currently there are three available through the Educational Center – one on mammals, one on whitetail deer and one on whooping cranes.

Fred Schwertzberger, president of the Friends of the Horicon Marsh, commended the many volunteers who came forward to help once the project as underway.

Bill Ehlenbeck, also a director with the Friends group, described the project. He said it includes 177 frames that were then connected to make the 1400-foot walkway. The walk is six-feet wide with curbing on the sides for the safety of those using wheel chairs on the walkway.

It includes four side decks, each 8x12 feet. When the project is complete these decks will also include benches for resting or for just enjoying the scenery.

When it is complete it will also have railings along the full length of the walkway.

Many of those participating in the ribbon cutting took the opportunity to walk along the boardwalk that leads to a continuing path through a wooded area and back around to the Education Center.

The walkway will officially open to the public within the next couple of weeks once all the railings have been put in place.

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