Leadership Marshfield Group Project: Literacy Garden

Leadership Marshfield Project Promotes Learning

Throughout the next couple of weeks, FOCUS will take a deeper look at some of this year’s Leadership Marshfield projects.


Background: The purpose and objective of Leadership Marshfield is to identify current and potential leaders in the community and provide a training program that will enhance their ability to function as more effective leaders. They will be better equipped to face the issues, problems, and challenges that will determine our community’s future.

Leadership Marshfield is a program of the Marshfield Area Chamber Foundation supported by the Leadership Council, volunteers, Chamber staff, and a strong Alumni network.
MACCI’s first Leadership Class graduated in May 1993. The 2018 class was recruited in the summer of 2017. Members participate in a series of eight informative one-day programs and develop group projects designed to meet each individual’s interests and community needs.

The purpose of the community project is to provide participants with an additional educational experience beyond the monthly sessions. Participants select their projects after learning about opportunities confronting the community and according to their interests.


 Project Name: Marshfield Middle School Literacy Garden

Team Members: Erick Boon, Jenna Ellenbecker, Kris Leonhardt, John Tertin, Sue Wilhelm


A place for students to read and learn, the Marshfield Middle School Literacy Garden has been a collaborative effort between staff and the community since 2016.

Selecting the gardens as their project, a 2018 Leadership Marshfield group came on board to help with fundraising and garden features. The garden will break ground in early June with majority completion by the end of summer.

More than just a place to read, the garden encompasses the full educational experience. “It’s an outdoor location for classrooms, and it’s an incentive for students to be able to get out and have free time, casual time, reading time,” said group member John Tertin.

It’s also an incentive for students who may wish to use it during their study hall, but there’s no technology allowed unless it’s teacher-directed, said Middle School Principal Mike Nicksic.

To be located near the Middle School front entrance, the Literacy Garden will have picnic tables and benches, an outdoor classroom area with a podium and Wi-Fi, perennials and annuals, outdoor lighting, a Clyde Wynia rustic art sculpture of a reading owl, and other metal artwork created in collaboration by the high school art department and Middle School metal shop. A plaque and memorial bed will be additions to a red maple that was planted in honor of a student tragically killed twenty years ago.

The garden itself will be a learning center. A retired teacher provided a list of perennials found in literature, and a retired science teacher is carefully selecting the rocks to act as a lesson in geology. Students and teachers will divide the maintenance of the garden.

Retired Middle School Custodian and Leadership Marshfield 1993 alumna Carol Berg-Kappel recruited the class this year to become involved in the project and has worked closely with Nicksic on the project, writing grants and putting on fundraisers. “The leadership team: I can’t thank them enough,” she said.

“We’re honored to be able to help carry that torch,” said Tertin. “Being able to leverage the Leadership Marshfield program and our group has really allowed us to reach into other areas of the community.”

The group has worked with metal fabrication companies to put together ways of recognizing the over 130 local businesses and individuals that have contributed time and materials. “There’s going to be a big stainless steel book that will be able to recognize a lot of a lot of the donors that have all contributed so generously to this project,” he said.

Donations toward the project are welcome, whether it be monetary or helping develop the garden during the summer. Checks can be written to the Unified School District of Marshfield (USDOM) with MMS Literacy Garden in the memo. Send to Mike Nicksic, Marshfield Middle School, 900 E. 4th Street, Marshfield, WI 54449. Donations are tax-deductible.

News Desk
Author: News Desk