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Investment in community | Diversity opportunities
Service centers | Urban initiative
Diversity adds richness to workplaces and everyday lives in Southeast Region. We embrace diversity in its fullest sense: race, ethnicity, culture, age, gender and thinking patterns, as we carry out the rural and urban work of the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.
The Southeast Region covers eight counties and serves over 40 percent of the state's population. Its urban presence is a contrast to the DNR's more traditional rural focus. Here, we recognize our rural features and celebrate urban opportunities for revitalization, restoration and redevelopment.
Investment in community
Our headquarters on Third and North near downtown Milwaukee opened in September 1983, a short distance from the Milwaukee River, Lake Michigan, the lakefront ethnic and music festivals, and a large, vital neighborhood. The Southeast Region was ready to approach its work differently and our headquarters building remains a catalyst, a community asset and an anchor to redevelopment.
The building was planned to remain open for community meetings and gatherings; a bright, welcoming beacon to customers and residents. The community event renaming Third Street to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive occurred on our doorstep.
Our workforce reflects community diversity. We've achieved this through active recruitment and comprehensive community outreach.
In 1986, the region teamed with Milwaukee Public Schools to create a Minority Intern Program. Our six-year summer earn-and-learn program introduces students to DNR work and encourages them to consider working for the DNR after college graduation.
Work as conservation wardens, environmental engineers, fisheries and wildlife biologists, and water supply and solid waste specialists were some of the many opportunities available. The program continues with students from:
To serve our customers, service centers in Milwaukee, Sturtevant, Waukesha and Plymouth put customer service staff within a 30-minute drive of 90 percent of the region's population. A customer can buy a license and parks sticker, meet with staff, and receive information on programs and projects at service centers. More specialized operations are carried out at the region's nine state parks, forests and recreational areas.
Several projects taken collectively form an urban initiative that give children nearby opportunities to experience the outdoors. Those pieces include Havenwoods State Forest, Lakeshore State Park, proposed Milwaukee County Grounds Forestry Awareness Center, Hank Aaron State Trail and State Fair Park.
These outdoor experiences are supported by Secretary Darrell Bazzell who was born in Milwaukee and graduated from North Division High School.
The first piece, Havenwoods State Forest, became a state property in 1979 following a history as the Zautke family farm, the Milwaukee County House of Corrections, a Nike missile site, a military base and a city landfill. Havenwoods Environmental Education Center was built in 1986. Recently the Nike missile site was filled, the landfill was capped and Lincoln Creek, which flows through the property, was restored. Stormwater and flood control ponds were developed as teaching tools. School children and teachers use the site that continues to change as the hundreds of trees planted a decade ago thrive on the 237-acre property.
The Wisconsin Lake Schooner Education Association and the DNR are exploring ways to share classroom, exhibit and other space on the lakefront near the dock for the s/v Denis Sullivan, Wisconsin's new flagship and a stately reconstruction of sailing vessels that traversed the Great Lakes in the 19th century.
Another piece in this urban initiative is redeveloping State Fair Park. The Exposition Center is the new neighbor east of the Department of Natural Resources' two-acre parcel. It will provide year-round opportunities.
In an August 1993 article in "The Week," Jerry Laudon, the author, observed that "There are unique resource and environmental problems that face the people in the southeast – more so than in any other part of the state."
"Because of the number of people, roads and parking lots – not to mention the industrial levels – there are some immense environmental problems that affect air and water quality. There is much to be done yet, but the district's professional staff has managed to keep us afloat in an area besieged with people problems. No, the people who work for the DNR's Southeast Region don't get the credit they deserve, but here's one cheer for what they've done. Good job, folks!"
We share that tribute with new employees. We carry out our work using the energy of citizens, partners and staff to accomplish together what no individual can do alone. We have learned that the best decisions result from collaborations of diverse people with diverse ideas.
Gloria McCutcheon is the director of the DNR's Southeast Region.