August 18, 2017
Lake Superior Reserve’s new community learning center and meeting space is quickly taking shape thanks in large part to a partnership with a local carpenter’s union.
Apprentice carpenters from the Carpenter’s Union Local #361 volunteered their time to assist in the interior buildout of the Lake Superior Estuarium, opening this fall. The Estuarium will house a public interpretive center as well as community meeting spaces and offices.
The partnership was a ‘win-win’ for Lake Superior Reserve and Carpenter’s Local #361. Not only did it keep remodeling costs down, making the project possible, but it also provided valuable hands-on experience for local carpenter apprentices to hone their craft. The apprentices’ generous contribution of time and labor has allowed the Reserve to invest in an interpretive center that will engage and challenge locals and tourists alike to care about the natural resources around them—in particular the St. Louis River Estuary and Lake Superior.
The partnership between the Lake Superior Reserve and Carpenter’s Local #361 was the brainchild of Douglas County Supervisor Terry White, who serves on the Reserve’s advisory board. “I was very pleased to introduce another partner organization to help in the remodeling of the Reserve’s Learning Center,” White says. “The carpenter apprentices spent countless hours helping in the remodel process, and it was a great to see while talking with them how proud they were to be helping the community in which they live. I know many of the apprentices walked away with a new understanding of the importance of the Lake Superior Reserve in our community and how the Estuarium will aid and educate all who visit it.”
Thad Lintula, Apprenticeship Instructor for Local #361, says the partnership provided “realistic, on-the-job, hands-on training” for apprentices. “The apprentices of Carpenter’s Union Local #361 and the North Central States Regional Council of Carpenters have greatly appreciated the opportunity to partner with the Lake Superior Reserve in the completion of their interpretive center on Barker’s Island,” Lintula says. “The ability to participate in the local community was an ideal training situation and represents the values we strive for in our carpenter training programs.”
Jackie Weissenburger, Interim Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs at University of Wisconsin-Superior, the Reserve’s host institution, adds, “UW-Superior greatly appreciates the partnership and efforts of the volunteer apprentices from the Carpenters Union Local #361 in support of the Lake Superior Reserve. Their work was instrumental in the renovation of the Reserve’s Estuarium, which will be an important asset for campus and the broader community.”
In addition to the Estuarium, the newly renovated building next door to Lake Superior Reserve’s offices on Barker’s Island will house office space for the Friends of Lake Superior Reserve non-profit group, as well as conference and classroom spaces for community groups. The Lake Superior Estuarium is scheduled to open this fall.