Powered Up Baraboo, Inc. is a 501(c)3 organization that seeks to increase the use of renewable energy, energy conservation, and environmentally sustainable practices in the Baraboo and Sauk County area through:
Community Education Efforts
• Producing community education workshops
• Creating and distributing Information materials about renewable energy, energy conservation, and
• Sharing renewable energy, energy conservation, and sustainable living news through social media
Climate Change Solution Advocacy
• Working on projects at the City and County level
• Partnering with various local organizations to reach goals
Organizing community volunteer projects
Grants & Fundraising
• Seeking and applying for grants to further our mission
• Raising funds for specific renewable and energy conservation projects
Powered Up Baraboo
The local face of the global transition to a clean energy future.
Our Wins in 2021-2022
A look back at the
ways we helped to educate the public,
and promoted the use of renewable energy, energy conservation, and sustainable practices in the Baraboo area.
We took part in Grow Solar Sauk County 2021 (as we did in 2018). PUB helped encourage 28 property owners to go through the program with a total of 235.06 kW of solar capacity being added in our area.
We held a meet and greet with State Assembly Rep. David Considine on December 1, 2021 to learn about the status of state-wide legislative efforts to promote renewable energy.
We partnered with Habitat for Humanity to publish a brochure on how to save money on your utility bill and save energy, geared towards middle and low income people. It was distributed to ten different nonprofits and government offices, and many people who stopped at our information booths.
We supported efforts to pass a city resolution on “No Mow May”.
Tom Kriegl, a member of the Home & Business Action Team, recruited Patrick Huelman, Associate Extension Professor of Cold Climate Housing Coordination at the University of Minnesota, an expert on energy efficient home construction, to provide three presentations at the Midwest Renewable Energy Fair in June, in Custer, WI.
We created a guide to local food producers who use rotational grazing in their operations, encouraging support of these farmers doing the right thing for the climate. We distributed this through our information booths.
We received grants from Rooted in Conservation Fund of Community Foundation of South Central Wisconsin and Free Congregation of Sauk County to help pay for our projects.
We supported the completion of the solar project at the Jack Young Middle School, and facilitated the installation of e-gauges at the JYMS so students can monitor solar production in real time.
We raised $60,000 to help make it possible for solar arrays to be added to Baraboo High School.
We produced a video introducing PUB’s work (made possible by a Good Idea Grant from Sauk County).
We sponsored a Lunch and Learn at the Baraboo Chamber of Commerce on May 26, 2022 to inform local businesses about our efforts.
We maintained a regular presence at the Baraboo Farmers’ Market, handing out literature and signing up new supporters.
We formed a core team of young families to launch a new PUB parent group.
We updated our website to offer information in a convenient form.
All this would not have been possible without our community partners, including Carnegie-Schadde Memorial Public Library, First United Methodist Church, Habitat for Humanity, Sauk County Department of Land, Resources and Environment, First Presbyterian Church and Relish Tray Bistro.
We sponsored the following free educational events:
Home Energy Audits webinar with Torrance Kramer on March 22, 2022 to outline ways home owners can reduce their energy bills.
A sustainable garden tour on June 11, 2022 with local landscape professional Marcy Huffaker, to educate local homeowners about the benefits of native plantings, rain gardens, and more.
"Why Trees Matter" program with City of Baraboo Director of Parks, Recreation, and Forestry Mike Hardy, highlighting the role trees play in carbon sequestration and the city’s role in tree planting September 30, 2021.
Why Farmers Matter” with Serge Koenig and Roman Miller on February 26, 2022 to highlight regenerative agriculture practices being utilized by local food producers.
A light bulb exchange on August 20, 2022, inviting people to bring in their old incandescent light bulbs and exchanging them for LED light bulbs.
"Rain Barrel Basics" program with Rick Eilertson, stormwater professional September 10, 2022. Eight rain barrels were given away free.
"Let's Get Composting" program with Rick Eilertson, certified Master Composter October 15, 2022.
Our purpose is to help the Baraboo area reach the economic, environmental, and citizen health opportunities presented by the global clean energy transition through forming collaborations between, and working with, local citizens, government entities, and businesses.
Powered Up Baraboo works toward a vision of Baraboo as an energy-independent community whose carbon footprint is net-zero. Our community will be part of a worldwide network of communities whose local actions have ignited and supported their nations' climate-saving commitments and progress.
Getting an organizational structure in place
2015 – Leaders from Baraboo's First United Methodist Church and the Baraboo Range Preservation Association began congregational and community conversations about climate change and sustainability practices.
Early 2019 – The informal community group decided to incorporate as a non-profit using the name Powered Up Baraboo, Inc. so it could serve as a conduit for grants and projects if needed. Powered Up Baraboo "...seeks to increase the use of renewable energy and environmentally sustainable practices in Baraboo and Sauk County area through education, advocacy, grants/fundraising and other volunteer efforts.
Powered Up Baraboo is a non-member organization guided by a board of directors. A copy of our bylaws may be downloaded here. Supporters connect with Powered Up Baraboo via signing on to receive periodic updates and taking part in action teams as individual time allows.
Powered Up Baraboo began by focusing on a call for solar installations on Baraboo School District properties, especially the current Jack Young Middle School renovation. Mike Kohlman, Baraboo School Board member, credited Powered Up as the catalyst for the Baraboo School District to explore a solar installation project at Jack Young Middle School. Because solar was not part of the Jack Young Middle School renovation referendum, it must be funded outside referendum dollars. However, the district has contracted with Hoffman Planning, Design & Construction to provide preliminary design estimates and economic analysis for a solar project on its own merits.
Building a base of supporters
Spring of 2019 – A small group of original planners, in cooperation with the Baraboo Public Library, decided to create a four-part public education series, Baraboo 2030, in hopes of invigorating community involvement in actions to reduce carbon emissions. The public information sessions, held in September and October 2019, culminated in the decision to form local action teams to work on specific projects.
Thursday, Nov. 7, 2019 – Planners of the public library education series discussed how their work might fold into Powered Up Baraboo. On Friday, Nov. 8, Powered Up Baraboo’s Board of Directors accepted folding the results of the community education series into its work. This step brought an informal network of community members and potential projects under the umbrella of the non-profit. The advantages include streamlined coordination, communication, planning and enhanced leverage for specific projects.
Board of Directors
Marianne Cotter, Co-Chair
Being involved in social justice has always been a part of my ministry as a United Methodist pastor. About five years ago, shortly after starting to serve First United Methodist in Baraboo, I sensed God calling me to do something about climate change. In the summer of 2015, Todd Persche and I led a community-wide discussion on Bill McKibben's book “Earth: Making a Life on a Tough New Planet.” That group evolved into a monthly climate change discussion group that became Powered Up Baraboo in August, 2019. I am grateful to be working with others to move towards a carbon-neutral future for Baraboo/Sauk County. In my spare time I enjoy cooking, riding my ebike, contemplative prayer, and spending time with my spouse Jim.
Beth Persche, Co-Chair
My family has called the Baraboo area home for the past 26 years. Along with raising our two children within Baraboo’s School District, I’ve been involved in many aspects of the community. Currently, I sit on the board of the Carnegie-Schadde Memorial Public Library and am also a member of the Baraboo Economic Development Commission. Over the years, I’ve felt an increasing sense of alarm from the escalating climate crisis. Discussions with friends and family have made it clear that many of us feel hopeless and overwhelmed by this news. It has been gratifying being part of Powered Up Baraboo from its inception and working with fellow community members dedicated to promoting sustainable practices. I have seen firsthand what our close-knit community can do when working together and am heartened by the can-do attitude exhibited by Powered Up Baraboo. A wise person once said that the antidote to despair is action, and I’ve certainly found that to be true in my life.
David Kell, Treasurer
Just living is an adventure for me. I have always wanted to make a difference in our world and in the spot where I am living. Powered Up Baraboo is an exciting group that works together to accomplish a great deal more than I ever could do alone. Edward Everett Hale said , "I am only one; but still I am one. I cannot do everything; but still I can do something." I believe time is running out on our planet and its climate as we know it. Just maybe we can make a difference and turn things around. My wife, Barbara, and I are retired and enjoy living on Lake Wisconsin. I love fishing, hunting, canoeing, boating, gardening and supporting groups dedicated to improving life anywhere. I am active in the Baraboo First United Methodist Church and Lake Wisconsin Alliance which along with Powered Up Baraboo help make a difference.
Joan Wheeler, Secretary
I have an abiding interest in sustainable living. In the early 2000s, this interest led me to help with various community projects, including developing a school rain garden, organizing a local initiative to encourage kids to bike and walk to school, and organizing educational forums on wind power, manure digesters, and plasma waste conversion. More recently, I have been involved in developing public library programs on preserving water resources, sustainable gardening, and a conservation film festival. In each of these endeavors, I have had the privilege of working with experts in conservation and environmental sustainability. I believe it is this expertise, coupled with local grassroots citizen action in communities around the country, which will make real inroads in fighting climate change at the local level, and influence decision makers to wake up to the need for action at the highest levels of the U.S. government.
Lena Nissley, Member at Large
As a person who has only lived in Baraboo since the year 2000, I sometimes still feel like a newcomer! My husband and I moved here with a small child and another one on the way. We now have 2 adult children who grew up here, went to the Baraboo schools and consider Baraboo their hometown. This place has been good to us. I increasingly feel that my being part of this community means giving back to it in any way that I can. I have always lived in the Midwest and despite the occasional longing to travel to parts unknown, I consider myself lucky to live here. I love living in a four-season place and watching how the world around us changes throughout the year, whether it be in the hills around Baraboo or in my own backyard. My joining Powered Up Baraboo is a way for me to feel more connected to my community. I don’t pretend to be an expert on the climate or what needs to be done to move our community forward in a sustainable way, but I do think it’s time to learn. My hope for this group is to promote learning and spread understanding and connection in our community in a way that feels inclusive and hopeful.
Carl Rosenstock, Member at Large
I moved to Baraboo in June 2008. This is when the 500-year flood occurred. The reality of what this meant moved me to begin signing petitions, especially involving the Climate Crisis issue. I proceeded to sign over 50,000 petitions. I learned through educating myself that the climate issue was already extreme. This had become a primary focus of our non-profit oneheartinc.org. I have joined and am actively involved in supporting local climate groups, as well as several groups online. I am a proud member of Powered Up Baraboo and look forward to what we will be accomplishing in Baraboo. My passion is to work with young people around these issues. I have the good fortune to be involved with three of these groups whose purpose is about mitigating the suffering of all life on our precious planet Earth.
Haley Ryan, Member at Large
Social Justice has always been a passion; calling me to action since I was a young girl. Upon returning to school to finish my Bachelors Degree in Sustainable Management, I learned about Environmental Justice and how crucial it is for stability in our world. I believe every living thing has a right to clean air, water, and soil. We must take into consideration future generations of all walks of life when finding solutions for current issues. Originally from Milwaukee, I enjoyed growing up minutes from Lake Michigan and spent countless hours at the shore and surrounding woods. I moved to Baraboo 8 years ago and have since started a family. We enjoy the charm and natural beauty Baraboo has to offer. I am excited for this opportunity to promote and expand sustainable practices in the Baraboo area.
Judy Spring, Member at Large
Growing up, I spent much of my time out of doors with lots of fresh air, room to roam, trees to climb, and animals to watch. Within my lifetime, I've seen what happens to local air, water and land quality as the result of careless disregard for the next generation. "Ethics" to me means showing that I understand that my personal actions affect others, now and in the future. Powered Up Baraboo is a way to close the commitment gap between what we say we will do and what we need to do to prevent dangerous levels of climate change, including decreased dependence on fossil fuels. Photo credit: Deb Gerencser
David Wernecke, Member at Large
I had the privilege of being Executive Director for the Baraboo Range Preservation Association from 2001 to 2013. The job is a front row seat for watching how a rapidly changing climate is affecting our local quality of life for both human and natural communities. I want to bring together deeply concerned citizens interested in addressing this crisis, understanding that we have little time left to build a healthier carbon neutral future. Years working in conservation has taught me that action is the great counter to despair, so please join us. Photo credit: Deb Gerencser