Seedling Program

Background: Vicki Miller, S2T’s Founder, was immersed in the “Nonprofit World” for over 15 years, including past president and board member of Hillview Urban Agriculture Center, so she knows first hand that “great ideas abound” for innovative and progressive projects that will benefit the community; however, most ideas quickly face two major obstacles: 1) Finding time to put a project idea together when there is already an overloaded work schedule (this is especially true for projects that include forming “partnerships/collaborations” and the time and effort it takes to even bring that partnership/collaboration together) AND 2) the lack of “seed” money to get the project going while in the “germinating” stage. That’s where S2T’s new and possibly one-of-a-kind “Seedling” program comes in!

What is S2T’s“Seedling”program: Perhaps a bit off the beaten path, the Seedling program involves finding an idea that aligns with S2T’s mission of promoting personal and environmental health and turning a potentially “great idea” into a “Seedling” where we find like-minded organizations who are willing to be part of a “pilot” and then together nurturing it (with S2T providing initial involvement and funding) until it’s a healthy “seedling” and ready for planting in someone else’s garden/organization.

The children’s  book, Pollinator Parade, began as a collaboration between Strive2Thrive Coulee Region, The Nature Place, and local author Nick Nichols, with editing by Rachel MacFarland and technical support from UW-La Crosse and Viterbo University Biology Departments.

Pollinator Parade is a fictional narrative that follows two siblings as they visit their grandparents’ pollinator garden, learning about the wild array of interesting creatures that “parade” through the plants and keep our ecosystem alive. Pollinator Parade includes scientifically accurate illustrations by Pete Hodapp, an insect index, and other resources for all ages to get involved in creating critical natural spaces for pollinators. It also connects readers to Operation Pollination, a partnership project aiming to restore pollinator habitats.

Books will be freely distributed to schools in the local area after the anticipated release date of early summer 2024. The Nature Place will utilize the book in programming and also have it available on-site for purchase. Profit sales will go back to support The Nature Place and Operation Pollination.

The Nature Place AmeriCorps members, Abby Friell and Gabrielle Arnold, have served as project managers, under the mentorship of Stephanie Hanna, Community Program Manager. Funding for this project was generously donated by Roz Schnick Consulting LLC andStrive2Thrive.

La Crosse Area Sustainable Community Collaborative (La Crosse Area SCC) is a partnership that formed in 2023 between Habitat for Humanity La Crosse, Sustainability Institute and Strive 2 Thrive Coulee Region, with the goal to collaborate with all the different groups, organizations, and city departments that have events and initiatives surrounding Earth Day, Neighbors Day, Earth Fair, River Clean Up, Marsh Clean Up, ORA trail clean up, large item pick up and local universities end of the year move out, etc.

2024: UW-L Public Health Students received a UW-L “Green Grant” grant specifically for the Campus Move Out in Spring of 2024. This MASSIVE landfill diversion effort will kick off late April/early May, and serve as a pilot program that will be shared with Viterbo, TC, property managers/landlords in future years. This newly created UW-L dumpster diversion program is called “Reduce, Reuse, Reimagine” and will aid the city’s Climate Action Plan goals and create learning opportunities for students. Read the article in UW-L Campus Connection for more information.

La Crosse Area SCC’s mission: “Through collaboration, education and outreach we hope to create and promote a unified effort of the biggest environmental impact.”

Past Seedling Program Successes!

The Driftless Area BioBlitz (DABB)

The Driftless Area BioBlitz project started out as a simple idea by Vicki who wanted to get people to go outside and get excited about the wonders of nature by using the iNaturalist interface. In early 2021, Mississippi Valley Conservancy, The Nature Place, (formerly known as WisCorps) and UW-La Crosse Biology department — organizations that have missions that closely align with the bioblitz  concept — created a “pilot proposal,” resulting in two successful events held in September. Through those events, we were able to work out any bugs (no pun intended) in the programming and in 2022 launched a full season of events, with La Crosse City Parks & Recreation also becoming a DABB partner in the program and in 2023, Viterbo Biology also became a DABB partner. Beginning in 2024, The Prairie Enthusiasts also became partners. (We also partnered with FSPA for two events on their private land as well as partnered with UW-Extension and Master Gardeners for a pollinator plant event. We also received additional promotional support from the La Crosse Public Library, ORA Trails, and four Neighborhood Associations, with the Sustainability Institute becoming a promotional supporter in 2023.)

2024: The Nature Place officially started facilitating the Driftless Area BioBlitz and will continue hosting the free DABB programs for all ages throughout spring, summer, and fall.  These programs would not be possible without continuing support from partners: Mississippi Valley Conservancy,  La Crosse City Parks, Recreation & Forestry, UW-L Biology department (with Dr. Barrett Klein and Dr. Todd Osmundson), Viterbo Biology department (with Dr. Ted Wilson), and The Prairie Enthusiasts. Strive 2 Thrive Coulee Region will continue to support this amazing program! Visit The Nature Place calendar to find exact dates for programs on bugs, plants, and more!