By Bill Kleiman
Tom Mitchell is famous. We all have fame within various sized communities in which we live. Tom is certainly known in Monroe Wisconsin as he was the captain of his high school basketball team when they won all 26 games and then won the state championship in 1965. This September Tom will be inducted into the Wisconsin Basketball Hall of Fame.
Tom is also famous at Nachusa Grasslands for being a really active and effective volunteer steward. With his wife, Jenny, they would volunteer a few days a week at Nachusa from about 1998 through about 2008, a decade of energy and fun. Tom and Jenny started off joining the Saturday morning workdays, and quickly ended up as unit stewards who created four really nice prairie plantings. They also cared for an important remnant prairie. Tom was on many prescribed fires, led many VIP tours, and mentored new volunteers.
Tom says he was mentored by Bill Kleiman and Jay Stacy. But below is a 2005 photo with fellow super stewards Hank Hartman and Chris Hauser, who also worked hard and loved to share ideas.
So Tom and Jenny retired from Nachusa to move back to their beloved Monroe Wisconsin where Tom immediately became the most active volunteer steward in the area, volunteering with The Prairie Enthusiasts. Tom and his cohorts care for the 135-acre Muralt Bluff Prairie, and several other sites nearby. Before Tom, the volunteer group had been meeting once in a while to do some work. Now with Tom doing stewardship 7 days a week the group is getting a ton done.
Tom is famous. All of us are famous in our various circles.
Cool bonus: A wonderful five minute NPR radio piece featuring Tom and others with photos is here: https://youtu.be/-tABkRbXzPI