Welty’s 2021 in the Rear View Mirror

Thinking back across the last year, it feels more like I’m trying to review a decade. We’ve had so many strange, new situations to deal with in 2021 and even now, as we start the new year, everything continues to be modified.

We began last January fully in lock-down, with just Aaron and I wandering around the Center. It was easy to social distance, but lonely. He continued to create virtual material we could share with our partners, and we did a few outdoor programs, weather permitting. Welty also showed up virtually for lots of partner zooms, I was part of a sustainability panel in Janesville, and we accepted the City of Beloit’s March 15 declaration to support efforts to reach carbon neutrality by 2040.

2021 Favorites: Aaron and his signature blue hat work with Even Start preschoolers; Brenda accepts the City of Beloit’s Carbon Neutrality proclamation; Darien preps Stateline Boys and Girls Club to wade at Beckman Mill; Merrill Elementary students learn about insect mouth adaptations virtually.

Thinking back across the last year…

Much to everyone’s relief, the School District of Beloit (SDB) went back in person for the fourth term. While we still did much of our work online, we were able to have contact with all grades we normally work with during the spring (3rd and 5th grades). We also sponsored an Earth Day week of plogging and started a job search for a new Educator.

We were so happy to be back in person for the summer. Thanks to Darien Becker, our new program staff, and a team of educators, Aaron was able to host 11 weeks of summer day camp–the first time ever for Welty! It was nice to have a full house again, and watch our great program team work with the kids around Big Hill Park. We also led many partner field trips to area parks, and were able to work with Stateline Boys and Girls Club, Community Action, Inc., SDB, and regional libraries. We also ran a successful summer appeal, which–thanks to a donor match (and our fantastic supporters!)–raised $25,000 for the organization.

…it feels more like I’m trying to review a decade!

This fall was jam-packed with field trips (SBD 2nd and 4th graders, all Lincoln Academy grades, Evenstart preschool), after school visits, and public programs. We became sub-awardees on a 3-year National Science Foundation grant to encourage the geosciences, and hosted our first science teacher workshop on the GLOBE protocols that they will be teaching their classes. In November, we ran a second Appeal with another match and raised $30,230 plus $90,000 in matching funds. What a great way to end the year…thanks to our wonderful members, participants, families, and volunteers.

We’re catching our breath in January, before trips start up again. We had to cancel Maple Sugar Fest because we still can’t serve a large pancake breakfast safely (stay tuned on its replacement–maybe an event in the fall?), but 2022 could be our biggest year ever. Stay safe and we hope to see you soon!

Brenda Plakans
Executive Director, WEC