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

The book is a fictional narrative that also offers educational information on pollinator insects and plants. Pollinators help produce over 75 percent of the food that we eat, and this book highlights their crucial role in the biodiversity and survival of numerous other species, including humans. The story tracks two siblings as they visit their grandparents’ pollinator garden, learning about the wild array of interesting creatures that “parade” through the story: bees, butterflies, moths, wasps, flies, beetles, etc.

Pollinator Parade also includes an insect index and other resources, further encouraging readers of all ages to get involved in creating natural, critical spaces for pollinators.

In 2023, Roz Schnick Consulting, LLC donated $15K to The Nature Place to help fund the publication of this book.

The Driftless Area BioBlitz (DABB) 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, WisCorps and UW-L 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. (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.)

In 2023, The Nature Place (formerly WisCorps) will begin to transition DABB to TNP, staying at their current level of involvement while shadowing, learning how DABB runs things, strategizing for the following year and fully taking over once planning for 2024 begins and at that point will be ready to run! 

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.
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.”  


“A Community that strives together thrives together”:  As previously noted, getting a project off the ground is sometimes the most difficult part of the process and we believe this method of “idea cultivation” and “striving together” through partnerships/collaborations leads to a greater diversity of ideas and programs and with the help of the Seedling program will ultimately result in a community that “thrives together.”