DNR News Release: DNR Secretary Cathy Stepp Column on MacKenzie Environmental Education Center 9-7-2013

Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources

101 S Webster, P.O. Box 7921, Madison, WI  53707  DNR Logo

Phone:  608-267-2773    TDD:  711

dnr.wi.gov    www.wisconsin.gov

DATE:   September 6, 2013

SUBJECT:  DNR Secretary Cathy Stepp column on MacKenzie Environmental Education Center


We are thankful to members of the public who support the Mackenzie Center. We are excited at the opportunity to re-invigorate the programming at MacKenzie and will be relying on the input of school groups, users and professional organizations as we put our curriculum together.


By taking responsibility for the MacKenzie Center, we are able to bring to life the vision we had for MacKenzie – environmental education for school-aged children and outdoors skills and mentorship training to help recruit and retain hunters, anglers and trappers. We attempted to find a private/public partnership that would help us deliver this vision, but we did not receive a proposal that met our needs. For me, status quo was not an option.


I want to assure you, as I have stated all along, we want: 1) a vibrant environmental education program at MacKenzie; and 2) to use MacKenzie to address our decline in hunters, anglers and trappers through innovative recruitment and retention strategies.


We are thankful to the legislature for their support and funding that they included in the state budget. They are expecting us to deliver fresh, exciting, and meaningful programs. As I have said throughout this process, we are also thankful to the Wisconsin Wildlife Federation (WWF) for their contributions to the MacKenzie Center over the last several years, and we appreciate their involvement in providing programming during this transition.


It is now time to focus on the future and move on. We’ve appointed a very talented individual to lead our transition at MacKenzie. He understands our vision and the need for frugality without compromising quality.


We’ve had excellent success incorporating Lean 6 Sigma principles into our business practices in the past year. We see MacKenzie as another excellent opportunity to improve efficiency and provide great service. We will address the funding through prioritizing work and shifting resources.


The DNR has operated MacKenzie since the 1930s; it has a storied and rich history within the Department, and we will honor that tradition and move forward. Again, we appreciate the Federations involvement for the past seven years, and now it is time for a new chapter with the DNR again taking responsibility to operate the facility as we’ve done for over 70 years.


We will reach out to the Friends groups at MacKenzie, as well as local officials and organizations. We look forward to input from many of the passionate educators who contacted us earlier this year. We are going to be working with our talented staff to develop vibrant outdoor and environmental programs and will be evaluating how we keep today’s kids excited and engaged about the outdoors.



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