Follow Katelyn as she explores Sheboygan County through volunteering opportunities.
The first weekend in February this year was a snowy one! On Saturday night, the Kettle Moraine State Forest – Northern Unit hosted their annual Candlelight Ski/Walk event at the Zillmer Trails.
My friend and I arrived early to volunteer by setting up the trail with candles. Together with a group of volunteers, we began walking the trail and lighting candles along the way. Each white-paper bag had a block of wood with a carved hole to keep a tall candle standing straight throughout the event. After lighting the candle, we placed each bag down carefully in the fresh snow.
As we followed the trail, I was able to have wonderful conversations with the other volunteers. One volunteer was a board member for the Friends of Kettle Moraine, Gary Nickel. Nickel shared with me all the wonderful events they have throughout the year. Between the Halloween Nature Walks in the fall and their Spring into Summer Outdoor Skills Fest in late spring, they provide an event for every turning of the leaves plus many learning experiences throughout the year.
I asked Nickel what his favorite event was at the park. “I love all of them and this event is the perfect example of our family-friendly events,” he said. “As the winter continues, people love the chance to get away from their busy schedules and enjoy the beauty of winter.”
We arrived at the end of the trail as the stars started coming out. Families started to arrive and make their way to the now candlelit trail. Hot apple cider and an assortment of cookies were waiting for us and the guests inside.
With the calmness of the woods and warmth of hot cider, I was able to catch up with a good friend while making new ones. Many volunteers I know share that experience and volunteer regularly just for that very reason. They are able to reconnect with old friends and make new ones – coming together with a shared passion for a nonprofit agency.
There was no lack of that same friendly feeling when I volunteered at the Sheboygan County Historical Society and Museum a few weeks after that snowy-evening.
Another friend signed up to volunteer with me and we both were excited to see the inside of the museum for the first time.
Turns out we were volunteering during their Historic Taverns of Southern Sheboygan County exhibit which people attended to revisit Sheboygan’s past tavern culture, learn about how things have changed for those buildings and share treasured stories with friends and/or family.
“Then” and “Now” pictures lined the walls as we entered the exhibit for a quick peek before the event. It was fun to learn how the buildings changed or didn’t change over time; how ownership changed or stayed in the family; and how the nostalgia was still there for many community members.
Friends and families gathered and the room was quickly filled with laughter and the wonderful smells of the Brat Fry! Brats, hamburgers and Oostburgers (which I learned that day is a brat AND a hamburger in one Sheboygan roll) were sold along with homemade German potato salad! There were also delicious treats available thanks to their volunteer cook! I volunteered my time selling tickets for lunch and my friend helped serve.
Volunteers cooked, grilled and served the food, assisted with engaging attendees in the exhibit and helped to clean up afterward as well. We had a fantastic time traveling to the past, experiencing Sheboygan culture (then and now) and volunteering with energetic and dedicated volunteers!
If you’re interested in having your own experience at either of these places, contact the following people and visit their websites:
Whether you love the great outdoors or exploring Sheboygan’s history, visit www.uwofsc.org/volunteer for volunteer opportunities that might interest you and fit into your schedule. My March volunteering experience is with the Sheboygan County Interfaith Organization on Thursday, March 22nd and there are still openings.
Feel free to join me in the “Give Back Challenge” and volunteer your time and/or talents during the year. For more information, contact United Way of Sheboygan County by calling 920-458-3425 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.