Despite the cold start, summer has (unofficially) begun! We’re excited to share a full calendar of ways to engage with the lakes, and give some updates on how we’re making waves in the watershed.

We are also glad to share that, on Friday, the Wisconsin Legislature’s Joint Committee on Finance voted to restore funding to the Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program. This program is important for land acquisitions that are necessary for us to meet our goals in reducing phosphorus runoff to waterways. 

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Happy May!

This month, we invite you to get out and join in. May 5th, May 7th, May 11th, May 12th, May 14th… before the month is half over, there are already FIVE different opportunities to engage with the clean lakes community.

We encourage you to join us on Tuesday, May 5th at Monona Terrace Community and Convention Center for the 4th Annual Save Our Lakes Community Breakfast. At this event, we will release the State of the Lakes Annual Report, which reports on water quality in lakes Mendota, Monona, Waubesa, Kegonsa and Wingra and gives the latest updates on phosphorus reduction in the watershed.

You can meet us at Bernie’s Beach for a clean-up day, say hello at the water@uwmadison symposium, hear some new research at Yahara Lakes 101, or kick back at The Boathouse. Now is also a good time to become a 2015 Friend of Clean LakesDONATE TODAY.

Happy May — we hope to see you out there.

Read the May 2015 Lake-O-Gram here.

Volume V, Issue 1

Happy New Year to the Clean Lakes Alliance (CLA) community! The year is off to a good start— we’re busy meeting with our partners to plan for phosphorus reduction projects in 2015.

To support our work in the new year, please become a 2015 Friend of Clean Lakes. Better yet, join the 63Club where Friends of Clean Lakes commit to a monthly recurring donation to support our efforts towards cleaner lakes. Your monthly support makes a big difference for our clean lakes efforts.

To show our appreciation, Friends of Clean Lakes receive free admission to all Yahara Lakes 101 events (a $110 value) and a Friends of Clean Lakes yard sign upon request. Thank you in advance for your contribution to healthy lakes and healthy communities – we continue to grow thanks to your support!

In Partnership,

The CLA Team


Table of Contents

Projects & Phosphorus Reduction: Rural Initiatives – Urban Initiatives


Watershed partners bring in $1.6 million federal grant

This week, the US Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) awarded $1.6 million to the Dane County Land & Water Resources Department through a new Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP). CLA is a partner on the project, along with Madison Metropolitan Sewerage District, Sand County Foundation, UW-Madison, and Yahara WINs. CLA policy director Elizabeth Katt-Reinders and Rural Program Manager Rachel Fossum worked with Dane County and partners to craft and write the successful proposal, which aims to build capacity for a watershed-wide approach to reducing phosphorus and reaching water quality goals.

Highlights of the proposal include the pairing of traditional agricultural conservation practices with new practices and technologies to reduce phosphorus and sediment runoff to lakes, rivers and streams; and with innovative approaches to engaging and supporting farmers throughout the watershed. Roofed feedlots, zero tillage, harvestable buffers, in-stream legacy sediment removal, and a regional community manure processing and storage site will all play a role in this collaborative effort to clean up the lakes and meet water quality standards.

Partners are providing cash and in-kind matches to the $1.6 million from NRCS. Katt-Reinders explains that the project allows partners to play to their strengths and leverage each other’s resources “to accomplish more together than any of us could accomplish by working alone. We’re all in this together to make sure that Dane County farms remain economically strong while operating in a way that helps clean up the lakes and reach our water quality goals.”

The grant process was highly competitive, with 600 proposals submitted nationally, and only 100 awarded across the U.S. The diversity of the public-private partnerships in the Dane County grant, as well as the established relationships and past successes among partners were integral to the proposal’s success.


Community Events

Frozen Assets Festival at The Edgewater

Mark your calendar for Saturday, February 7th and join us on the frozen shores of Lake Mendota for our new FREE, family-friendly festival. There will be something for everyone!

On the Plaza

  • Free ice skating (courtesy of The Edgewater)
  • A “Frozen in Time” Figure Skating exhibition (courtesy of the Figure Skating Club of Madison)
  • A snowman decoration contest (courtesy of our Snowmen sponsors)
  • Photos with Princess Elsa (courtesy of Sugar and Spice Princess Parties)
  • Handcrafted s’mores and locally-prepared hot chocolate

On the Lake

  • A hockey slap-shot contest (courtesy of the Madison Capitols)
  • Curling demonstrations (courtesy of the Madison Curling Club)
  • Ice fishing demonstrations (courtesy of Blue Ribbon Outdoors and Fishidy)
  • Sleigh rides (courtesy of Blue Ribbon Outdoors)
  • Snowshoeing (courtesy of Rutabaga Paddlesports)
  • Shuffleboard, sledding, and broomball (courtesy of KEVA Sports Center)

Check out our event site for more activities and to explore the festival.

Last but not least, register ahead to participate in the first-ever Igloo Walk on Lake Mendota, complete with complimentary hot chocolate, s’mores and snowshoe rentals. The walk is designed to be fun and casual, and will be ongoing from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Renowned freshwater scientist and lake-ice expert John Magnuson will be on hand for fun lake science demonstrations. We can’t wait!

Want to get in on the behind-the-scenes fun? Sign up to volunteer at the festival – your support helps to make the festival free to all!

The Fundraiser portion of Frozen Assets is SOLD OUT. Tickets will be mailed to all guests on Monday, January 23rd.

A Special Thank You

Once again, our beyond-generous sponsors have helped us completely underwrite the costs of Frozen Assets. The Edgewater, as a platinum sponsor and event host, provided use of spaces for the festival and fundraiser completely FREE of charge. Our presenting sponsor, Lands’ End, graciously donated quality winter gear and attire for all volunteers and staff. That’s no small feat, as we expect 50-some volunteers! The annual Frozen Assets style guide for the evening fundraiser event was again completely donated, including design, photography, videography, and production provided by our partners. View the guide to see a full list – they deserve cred!

And as usual, our production partners, including Dynamic Events, Studio 88, Majic Productions, Canopies Events, and VAALID, went above and beyond to discount and donate services. Take a look at our full group of sponsors and partners on the Frozen Assets website – you’ll find them at the bottom of every page. They’re local, and they’re worth it!

Thanks to the dedication and passion of these organizations, we are on track to celebrate our lakes in style AND net $100,000.00 for our lakes. Thank you!


Mendota Freeze

On Friday, January 2nd, the Wisconsin State Climatology Office officially declared Lake Mendota frozen! Congratulations to the winners of our annual Mendota Freeze Contest: Laura Graham of Madison correctly guessed the freeze date at 6 p.m. on December 1st, and won the grand prize of a $1,000 gift card to Lands’ End. The contest runner-up was Peppin Karras, who correctly guessed at 8 p.m. the same day and won four tickets to Walt Disney World, courtesy of Spectrum Brands. In total, 15 people guessed the correct date, and the top 11 won various prizes from our sponsors – thanks to everyone who participated!


Yahara Lakes 101

On January 8, Bob Uphoff spoke to our Yahara Lakes 101 audience on Clean Lakes Alliance’s agricultural affiliate, Yahara Pride Farms (YPF). Uphoff is the vice chair of YPF, owner and operator of Uphoff Ham & Bacon Farm, and a very engaging speaker. Conversation with Uphoff, CLA staff, and 101 attendees continued long after the presentation concluded.

In his talk, Uphoff explained how YPF is so different from the many other groups and boards he had participated in previously. He also talked about the YPF cost-share and certification programs. Uphoff shared that “as a farmer, what impressed me was that [Clean Lakes Alliance was] trying to understand that we do run businesses,” and to keep the bottom line in mind when making the case for conservation practices.

Follow Clean Lakes Alliance on Youtube to watch the presentations at any time.

Upcoming speakers

  • Thurs., February 12, 2015: Marty Melchoir of Inter-Fluve on the streams-lakes connection & sediment loading
  • Thurs., March 12, 2015: Dr. Ankur Desai of UW-Madison AOS on climate change & the Yahara lakes
  • Thurs., April 9, 2015: Dr. Dick Lathrop on restoring shallow lakes by reducing carp densities


Projects & Phosphorus Reduction

Rural initiatives

While the ground is still frozen rock-solid, our agricultural affiliate Yahara Pride Farms is already preparing for spring. Read below to learn more about how we’re working on rural phosphorus-reduction through our Yahara Pride Farmers.

Save the date! Yahara Pride Farms Watershed-wide Conference

Thursday, March 5th, 2015 from 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Please join us for this year’s conference, which will focus on “Nutrient Management and Precision Ag.” This topic is at the forefront of ag innovation in our region and around the world, and we’re pleased to be hosting local industry leaders and speakers from the U.S. Geological Survey and the University of Wisconsin-Extension to share their expertise.

We expect 100-150 attendees, including farmers, agribusinesses, agency employees, and other watershed stakeholders.

The conference will take place at the Comfort Inn & Suites in DeForest, Wisconsin. If the topic pertains to your work in the watershed, please register to attend free of charge. Lunch is included.

2014 YPF Cost-share & Certification

Since 2012, Yahara Pride Farms has been cost-sharing conservation practices on local farm acreage, thanks to generous funding for the program from Yahara WINs. The program helps farmers to try out or expand practices like cover cropping, vertical manure injection, and strip tillage. In 2014, we exceeded our goal to grow the program: for our fall cost-share sign-up, farmers indicated plans to implement between 5,000-8,000 acres of conservation practices (compared to 3,000 in 2013). We will continue to finalize this number as Yahara Pride farmers report back the total acres that they were able to implement. Every acre counts, because these practices all keep soil on the fields and excess nutrients out of our lakes and waterways.


Urban initiatives

We are in the process of meeting with partners and gearing up for our 2015 urban phosphorus-reduction efforts. 2014 was a successful year of engaging urban residents and getting more people involved in clean lakes efforts – read on here for a summary of last year’s Renew the Blue efforts.

Greater Madison Yard Care Survey – Results

Over 1,600 community members took our online yard care survey, and we have now aggregated the results into a brief report. The Yard Care Survey Report provides a baseline for how urban residents living in our watershed manage their stormwater and fall leaves, and it helps us evaluate the decision-making factors that influence these actions. The report also has confirmed that most urban residents are eager to find more information about sustainable yard topics like healthy lawns, rain gardens, leaf composting, and rainwater collection, and how yard care can affect our lakes. Thank you for helping to guide our urban outreach work!


Thank you to our Funders

In the last two weeks, we have received new grant awards from the following organizations:

  • Patagonia
  • Professional Dairy Producers Foundation
  • Dairy Business Association and Dairy Business Milk Marketing Cooperative
  • Milk Source

These awards will go towards our work in the agricultural community through Yahara Pride Farms. Thank you!


Lake Calendar

  • Frozen Assets: Sat., Feb. 7, 2015
    Festival (10 a.m. – 3 p.m.)
    Fundraiser (8 p.m. – midnight)
  • World Water Week: Mar. 20 – Sun. Mar. 29

What do fallen leaves have to do with lake health? When leaves on our streets and terraces steep in rainwater, they create a nutrient-rich tea that enters the lakes via storm drains and fuels excess plant and algae growth.

Each year, our urban communities contribute about 30% of the total phosphorus that enters lakes Mendota, Monona, Waubesa, Kegonsa, and Wingra. That’s about 27,000 pounds of phosphorus from leaves, soil, and other urban runoff.

Fortunately, our community has an action plan and is working to prioritize and implement projects in the watershed. If you have a moment—and perhaps a rake—you can help. Here are three ways to start:

Read More

Thank you to everyone who came out to the Clean Lakes Festival, including the nearly 300 riders who looped Lake Monona by bike! The weather was perfect for recreation, relaxation, and exploration of all that our lakes have to offer. The photos speak for themselves: take a look at festival highlights here.

Consider joining us for a Yahara Lakes 101 presentation on “Blue-green algae in Lake Mendota: the mystery of the missing nitrogen” with Dr. McMahon on Thursday, August 14th, and a volunteer day at Olbrich Park on Thursday, August 21st. Also, we encourage you to support our lake education programs by becoming a lake buddy.

In the meantime, keep getting out on the lakes, and don’t forget to send us pictures. We’ll keep you up-to-date on our adventures.

In Partnership,

The Clean Lakes Alliance team

Table of Contents
Lake Explorer Camp
Yahara Lakes 101 with Dr. McMahon
Olbrich Park volunteer day
Clean Lakes Festival recap
Loop the Lake recap
“We need to redefine our allies” – TEDxMadison
Community Events and Opportunities

Lake Explorer Camp – Celebratory Field Day

On Wednesday, August 6th, 180 Boys & Girls Club of Dane County students will arrive at Wingra Park for a lake-centered field day. The students will paddle around Lake Wingra, explore lake history on a pontoon boat, learn to net and identify fish, and try their luck at fishing.

The field day will celebrate the completion of the first annual Lake Explorer Camp. This pilot program was designed to increase understanding and appreciation of our lakes, and teach valuable lake recreation and investigation skills. As part of the camp, Boys and Girls Club students learned about and played on Lake Wingra with trained staff, including a bilingual instructor. Students investigated fish biology, read topography maps, identified lake macroinvertebrates with a microscope, and gained paddling, boating, and fishing skills.

The camp is the result of a partnership between the Clean Lakes Alliance, Wingra Boats, the Boys & Girls Club of Dane County, and the generous support of Downtown Madison Rotary and the Wingra Boats Duck Dash.

To support the Clean Lakes Alliance’s lake education programs, donate to become a lake buddy. Through our lake education programs, we seek to take advantage of the strengths of our partners and make connections to help foster the next generation of lake advocates.

Yahara Lakes 101 with Dr. McMahon

Join us on Thursday, August 14th for Yahara Lakes 101 – this month, we will learn all about cyanobacteria (blue-green algae), with Dr. Katherine (Trina) McMahon. The presentation topic will be “Blue-green algae in Lake Mendota: the mystery of the missing nitrogen.”

The element nitrogen seems to affect how blue-green algae forms and produces toxins in unexpected ways. Dr. McMahon will give us insight into the research on cyanobacteria that is currently underway at UW-Madison and through the North Temperate Lakes Long Term Ecological Research program. Dr. McMahon will also explain the role of water quality buoys in monitoring blooms, and give a preview of some exciting new genomics-enabled insight into Mendota’s blue-green algae.

Please register online (required).

Dr. McMahon is a Professor at UW-Madison with joint appointments in Civil and Environmental Engineering, and Bacteriology. She has been studying the Madison-area lakes since she arrived here in 2003. Her research focuses on the role of microorganisms in determining water quality, in both lakes and wastewater treatment plants. She is also currently a citizen member of the Dane County Lakes and Watershed Commission.

Come volunteer with us at Olbrich Park! (Thurs., Aug. 21)

Here’s your chance to meet some CLA staff members and other lake lovers while volunteering on the lakeshore of the beautiful Olbrich Park. Tools and supplies will be provided… all we need is your presence and enthusiasm! Sign-up to join us on August 21st from 6 – 8 p.m. for beach maintenance and lakeshore cleanup at Olbrich Park.

What a day! Clean Lakes Festival 2014 recap

We are proud to announce that the 2014 Clean Lakes Festival raised $X for our lakes. We were happy to see people of all ages having fun in and out of the water, enjoying great food, good company, stellar views, and plenty of lake education and recreation.

The CLA lake exploration booth was a special hit with young scientists. Thanks to our great staff and equipment on loan from the UW-Madison Center for Limnology and Zoology Department, festival attendees of all ages got to observe first-hand what lives in our lakes.

And of course, thank you to the sponsors that helped make the day free and low-cost for all: Alliant Energy Foundation, Betty Lou Cruises, The Burish Group – UBS Financial Services, Ho-Chunk Gaming – Madison, InterCon Construction and Energy Services, Lands’ End, Jacob Leinenkugel Brewing Company, Spectrum Brands, and Wickcraft Company, Inc.

Loop the Lake – recap

Thank you to the near-300 riders who looped Lake Monona with us on Saturday – it was the biggest ride yet, and raised $X for our lakes!

Energy was high throughout the ride and we are proud to say that even the littlest of us made it back to the finish line at the Clean Lakes Festival. Good thing the Madison Water Utility water wagon was on hand for refreshment and rehydration, and the Kiwanis Club of Downtown Madison was ready with a freshly grilled lunch.

Thanks to the sponsors that helped make the day run smoothly: American Transmission Company (ATC), Dentistry for Madison, Hooper Foundation, Lands’ End, Plastic Ingenuity, Schwinn Bicycle Company, Spectrum Brands, and Woodman’s Markets.

“We need to redefine our allies” – TEDxMadison

Back in June, CLA’s Director of Policy & Communications Elizabeth Katt-Reinders presented her “idea worth sharing” at TEDx Madison, an independently-organized TED event. Elizabeth was one of nine speakers from the community, and their videos are now online for viewing and sharing. Elizabeth spoke about “redefining our allies”, and she shared stories that illustrate how CLA strives to find opportunities for connection and collaboration rather than see competing interests. Check out her TEDx talk here.

Community Events and Opportunities

Yahara in situ – Water Sustainability and Climate blog:

We’re in love with the new “Yahara in situ” blog, courtesy of the UW-Madison Water Sustainability and Climate project. The posts are chock-full of insight into local water quality research, full of photos, and very reader-friendly. Check out two of our favorite recent posts:

“New program, old tricks for eliminating phosphorus”

“Geoengineering: Parallels between the Global Climate and the Madison Lakes”

About the blog:

Yahara in situ is a new blog about the Yahara Watershed and, more specifically, about how social and environmental change might affect the region’s water and the many benefits its residents get from nature. Run by the UW-Madison’s Water Sustainability and Climate (WSC) project, the blog is a collection of research updates, reflections, and images from the project’s diverse team of scientists. Since their research is place-based, they are doing things “in situ.” Learn more about the WSC project at https://wsc.limnology.wisc.edu/.

MSCR Pontoon Boat Program (until lake September)

Have you ever looked at the beautiful lakes in Madison and wanted to get out on the water? The MSCR Pontoon Boat Program was created just for you! MSCR offers drop-in boat rides, boat rentals and specialty trips and events. For pricing and to reserve a ride, please visit the MSCR website and fill out the Pontoon Rental Request Form. The program begins in May and continues on until late September, and trips begin at Tenney Boat Pier at 1615 Sherman Avenue. 

Brittingham Boats SUP Cup (summer Thursdays)

Get out on the lakes with the SUP Cup! On Thursday nights this summer at Brittingham Boats, check out the Stand Up Paddleboard race series for the recreational and competitive paddlers among you! We’re happy to see CLA Community Board member and owner of Brittingham and Wingra Boats, Tyler Leeper, getting more people out on the lakes.

IRONMAN Wisconsin (Sunday, September 7)

The IRONMAN Wisconsin is looking for boat and personal water craft volunteers. Please mention that you are volunteering on behalf of the Clean Lakes Alliance when you sign up. Register to volunteer online!

Call for Badger Bioneer Nominations

Each year, Sustain Dane honors three Badger Bioneers, local champions working to move the Madison Region toward a more sustainable future, at their annual Badger Bioneers Conference, to be held on November 18, 2014. Click here to nominate someone for this distinguished title.



Volume IV, Issue 6

August, 2014

Healthy Lakes, Healthy Community.

Volume IV, Issue 5

What better time than summer to relax and play with family and friends! See below for opportunities to bike, paddle, swim, ski or chill by and on our lakes. Also, Also, show your love for the lakes by volunteering with the Clean Lakes Alliance (CLA). (Psst – most of our volunteer needs are great excuses to be outdoors and around other lake lovers!)

Amidst all the fun on the lakes, remember that the CLA is still hard at work to protect them. Donate today and start receiving Waves in the Watershed, our bimonthly report on phosphorus-reducing projects and progress.

What is the Lake-O-Gram? The Lake-O-Gram is a monthly digest distributed through our website and e-mailed out to the surrounding communities to keep citizens up-to-date on the latest events and efforts taking place to protect and preserve the water quality of the Yahara watershed. Subscribe to get the Lake-O-Gram in your inbox!

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Healthy Lakes. Healthy Community.

Volume IV, Issue 4

memorial-union-terrace_stripHere at the Clean Lakes Alliance (CLA) office, we are counting down the days (and maybe even the minutes) until summer. Technically, there are still 19 days to go, but you don’t have to wait until 5:52 a.m. on June 21st to enjoy the lakes… just look at all the lake lovers on the Terrace!

Read on for updates on our water quality monitoring program, our lake user survey, information about summer lake events, and highlights of CLA and the lakes in the news!

WHAT IS THE LAKE-O-GRAM? The Lake-O-Gram is a monthly digest distributed through our website and e-mailed out to the surrounding communities to keep citizens up-to-date on the latest events and efforts taking place to protect and preserve the water quality of the Yahara watershed.

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Mallards and loons and paddlers, oh my! As the weather warms up and the skies clear, there are plenty of opportunities for lake-lovers (like us!) to get outside.

Please read below for a brief digest of our upcoming programs & events, including a recap of the 3rd annual Save Our Lakes Community Breakfast and a link to the 2013 State of the Lakes report.

P.S. Be sure to watch the three new videos premiered at the Breakfast: The State of the Lakes; Schooling for Cleaner Lakes; Projects & Progress in the Watershed

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As the old saying goes, “April showers bring May flowers”. April, and the coming of spring, also brings the Clean Lakes Alliance (CLA) new opportunities to continue protecting and improving our lakes! This Lake-o-Gram highlights upcoming events and programs, as well as recent announcements to share with the community. The CLA thanks all those who support its efforts.

– The CLA Team

Crazy 4 Lakes Run/Walk

The CLA in the Community
CLA Accomplishments

Please join us on Thursday, April 10, 2014 in welcoming back Dr. Doug Soldat, associate professor of soil science at UW-Madison, to Yahara Lakes 101 (YL101) for his presentation “Lawn Care, Soils and Water Quality”. Dr. Soldat was our very first YL101 speaker last May, and we are happy to welcome him back to the podium this spring.

DATE: Thursday, April 10, 2014

7:30 am – Coffee, pastries & fruit
8:00 am – Presentation
9:00 am – Q & A
LOCATION: Bluephies Café at Verex Building
(150 E. Gilman St.) Located on Level B

Admission is $10 at the door or free to Friends of Clean Lakes. Become a Friend today!

Doug will provide information on: 
  • How green lawns and clean lakes need not be mutually exclusive. In fact, dense vegetation can play an important role in protecting surface waters from nutrient runoff.
  • How soil properties and the negative consequences of over-management play a critical but often overlooked role in environmental protection and pollution.
  • The primary pathways of nutrient losses from urban environments and discuss some practical and effective strategies for keeping nutrients out of the lake.

About Doug:
Dr. Doug Soldat is a Wisconsin native and a Ph.D. associate professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in the Department of Soil Science, specializing in turfgrass and urban soil management. He earned a Ph.D. at Cornell University studying how phosphorus is lost from lawns. At Wisconsin, he advises the students in the turfgrass and grounds maintenance program, and teaches three classes including “Turfgrass Nutrient and Water Management” and “Lawns, Society and the Environment”. His research program focuses on finding ways to maintain turfgrass for optimum function using fewer inputs of nutrients, pesticides and water.

*Please Note*

PARKING: Please park in James Madison Park or in parking ramps listed below. No Parking on East Gilman St. from 8 a.m. to noon and in the Verex Plaza surface lot or underground lot.


The Save Our Lakes event is a community breakfast and the annual meeting of the Clean Lakes Alliance (CLA). Save Our Lakes was created to bring the community together to review our progress towards cleaner, healthier lakes. This event is a time to celebrate and assess the past year and to launch new programs and initiatives for the year ahead. Presentations include the State of the Lakes report– the community report card for water quality in the Yahara lakes – and the CLA Annual Report, presented this year as a combined report.

DATE: Friday, April 25, 2014

TIME: 7:30 a.m. – 9:00 a.m.

Monona Terrace Community & Convention Center,
Main Exhibit Hall

$1,000 per table of 10
$100 per seat
$35 per student seat

This year’s theme is “Schooling for Cleaner Lakes”. Just like fish that school together in the same direction, this theme recognizes that many groups and entities are working toward a shared goal of cleaner lakes.

This spring, the CLA and American Family Insurance DreamBank invited the public to participate in the Schooling for Cleaner Lakes community art project. The idea for this initiative, designed to increase understanding of our lake ecosystems, materialized in response to an exhibit at DreamBank that identified “clean lakes” as a top priority for the Madison community. The CLA and DreamBank encourage dreamers of all ages to participate in their hands-on, creative project. For more information, please visit Schooling for Cleaner Lakes.

2014 Breakfast Speakers:

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