Reaching for the moon

GREEN LAKE ASSOCIATION Communication & Project Manager Jennifer Fjelsted has stars in her eyes and one in her hands as she prepares for the organization’s “A Night Among the Stars” gala. The event takes place Saturday, Aug. 3 beginning at 4:30 p.m. in the Shoreline Boat Center Showroom. submitted photo

by Joe Schulz

Three years ago, the Green Lake Association (GLA) began showcasing pillar projects at its annual gala and it hasn’t looked back.

At the time, the idea to ditch silent auctions in favor of previewing next year’s projects was a risk.

“We didn’t really know what the response would be,” GLA Executive Director Stephanie Prellwitz said.

The community left her awestruck as the GLA raised more after its first pillar project year than ever before.

“When the gala started 10 years ago, I don’t think we could have ever imagined how successful it would become for us,” Prellwitz said. “When we started talking about these projects at the gala, the response from attendees was really incredible.”

The pillar projects have helped to turn the gala into one of the GLA’s major fund-raisers, as last year’s gala raised around $165,000.

“We’ve been able to do things like restore miles of streambank, we’ve been able to fund scholarships for next generation farmers and we’ve been able to expand our efforts in carp removal,” Prellwitz said. “None of that existed before the gala.”

Prellwitz has been humbled by the community’s generosity, which is why this year’s gala will honor those who make the GLA’s work possible.

The event’s theme “A Night Among the Stars” refers not only to the celestial stars in the night sky, but also to stars in the community.

The 10th-annual GLA Gala will take place Saturday, Aug. 3 at 4:30 p.m. in the Shoreline Boat Center Showroom.

The gala will feature starry decorations, an open bar, catering from Goose Blind Grill & Bar, live music from the Bluewater Kings Band, a live auction, project pledge and bucket raffles.

Communication & Project Manager Jennifer Fjelsted noted the event will be more formal than previous years to celebrate 10 years of community support.

“This year we really wanted to recognize that it’s the community that’s helping us to take care of Green Lake; they’re the stars too,” Fjelsted said.

While this will be the gala’s 10th year, it will be Fjelsted’s first as event coordinator.

“I have a lot of support from our Executive Director Stephanie Prellwitz and Josh Schubring, our development manager,” she said. “Everybody has been rock stars.”

Fjelsted noted there’s a lot of planning that goes into putting on a gala, ranging from sending out invitations to decorating the venue.

“People look forward to it and attendees always have a great time,” Fjelsted said. “So even though it’s my first year, I feel that excitement in the community.”

Playing Heads and Tales at last year’s Green Lake Association “Prohibition Party” gala are, from left, Jeff Shadick, Mike Ertmer, and Sandy Nelson The game has been played since the first gala. submitted photo

She believes 10 years of the GLA Gala shows just the strength of Green Lake and the surrounding communities.

“It’s really encouraging that we’ve hit this milestone and that year after year people show up; the community shows up to help us fund these projects,” Fjelsted said. “It inspires us to keep going, to keep finding projects that are going to help you protect the water and improve the water quality.”

The GLA’s annual meeting serves as a reflection of what the organization has accomplished over the last year, whereas the gala serves as a look at the future.

“It gives us a chance … to let everybody know this is what we’re raising funds for now,” Fjelsted said. “The gala gives us a chance to say, ‘This is where we’re going. This is what we’re doing next.’”

Funds raised from the gala will be used to fund projects designed to help preserve the water quality of Green Lake and its watershed.

Project Clean Streams helps to restore eroding streams and prevent phosphorous and other chemicals from running into the lake.

Project Invader Defense helps to remove invasive species, such as carp, from the lake.

“Carp are invasive; they stir up the bottom of the lake and they resuspend nutrients like phosphorus, which fuel weed and algae growth,” Fjelsted said. “By removing them we prevent a lot of water quality problems they cause.”

Project Green Acres helps send students interested in agriculture to workshops and conferences, where they learn best practices for maintaining the land.

“Green Lake the town is named after our lake. It’s the center of this community and it’s something that here at the Green Lake Association, we love Green Lake and we care about it,” Fjelsted said. “We’re here and we’re funded and supported because other people love and care about Green Lake. And you protect the things that you love.”

Fjelsted added one drop of water stays in the lake an average of 21 years, which means actions today have ramifications felt years down the line.

“We can never stop taking care of the land because water flows off land towards the lake,” she said. “We can never stop trying to take care of this beautiful body of water because if we do, it’s not going to be a beautiful body of water.”

The GLA aims to keep Green Lake one of the premiere bodies of water in Wisconsin.

“We want to leave the lake in better shape than we found it,” Prellwitz said. “We didn’t inherit Green Lake from our ancestors, we borrowed it from our children.”