The Association of Retired Conservationists was organized by a group of retirees from the Wisconsin Conservation Department in the 1960's. By the mid-1970's, the WCD had been combined with the Department of Resource Development to form the Department of Natural Resources, and the retirees group had grown significantly, met monthly for lunch and began inviting speakers to address the group on issues of interest to the members. Today, the organization has more than two hundred members.

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Bruce Chevis

I started out as a record breaker. Born at St. Mary’s Hospital in Racine, WI, I was the longest baby ever born there: 24 inches. So really, I haven’t grown much more than average people, I just had a head start. I peaked at 6 foot, 7 inches and am hoping to shrink substantially in my old age to better in cars and airplanes.

When I was a year old, my family moved to Houston, Texas where we lived until I was seven. Then back to Racine where we moved every 2-3 years until I went away to college.

Seven years old!

Passing through nine different schools from kindergarten to high school, I'm told maybe the reason I find it easy to talk to strangers is that all through my childhood, I had to make new friends every 2-3 years.

In high school and the first two years of college, I played basketball, enjoying the fast pace of the sport. After a couple of seasons at UW Parkside, I transferred to UW Madison and needed a paying job to work my way through college.

College basketball days.

I earned a bachelor degree in Soils (yes, I am a certified dirty old man) and a Masters Degree in Recreation Resources Management. I worked for two summers at Lake Kegonsa State Park under Ron Ellingson and Paul Stone (whom I understandably blame for all my bad habits). In 1973, my degree and summer experience helped me land a job as a state park manager with Wisconsin State Parks. While employed by DNR, I always found time to be involved in helping our local community. While working at Peninsula State Park, I served as a Trustee on the Village Board of Egg Harbor as well as a member of the Egg Harbor and Fish Creek volunteer fire departments. When we moved to Burlington, WI, as a citizen I served on a variety of City Boards and then was elected to four terms as a City Council Member,(we were called “Aldermen” back then).

After three years as Council President, I ran for mayor and lost. Considering the expected time commitment, my losing was probably a good thing.

I spent 34+ years in state parks and retired in 2007 on my 60th birthday. I was the first

With grandson Devin

I was the first superintendent at both Heritage Hill State Historical Park and Richard Bong State Recreation Area and welcomed the opportunity in both instances to build a park from the ground up. In addition, I held management positions at North and South Kettle Moraine Forests, Peninsula Park, and in the Bureau of Parks. I thoroughly enjoyed my career with DNR and am enjoying retirement even more!. I met my wife Pati in our second year of college and we have been married for 42 years. Our son and daughter both live and work in the Madison area and we have two grandchildren to spoil as best we can.

I enjoy photography and lots of outdoor recreation including fly fishing, small game hunting, bicycling, kayaking, snowshoeing, XC skiing, windsurfing, motorcycling, and traveling.

Bruce and son Ben on a motorcycle trip in Tennessee

Motorcycling in Europe

Fishing the Sacramento River in northern California.

In addition to traveling all over the U.S., favorite places are Florida Keys, northern California and Colorado, Pati and I have traveled to Costa Rica, Cuba, Hong Kong, India, Nepal, Southeast Asia and seven times to Europe. In 1983, Rotary Club International sponsored me on a six-week trip to Holland as part of a team of six “young professionals.” I learn more about our own country and culture as I see how other countries and cultures function. I'm always struck by how similar we humans are, all over the world. The potato farmer in Holland, the tobacco farmer in Cuba, and the soybean farmer in Wisconsin all have the same complaints about price supports, the weather, and the markets. They say the same words – just in different languages.

Bruce & Pati in Costa Rica

Pati and I live in a condo across the street from Lake Wingra in Madison. That makes it easy to travel because all the lawn mowing and snow shoveling are taken care of while we are gone. Our location is also great for dragging our kayaks across the street and exploring and fishing Lake Wingra. We are also heavily involved in volunteering at the UW Arboretum, Vilas Zoo, American Cancer Society, and Adult Literacy programs.

As for the future, I continue to work on my “bucket list.” I have checked off a few of the items on that list such as motorcycling in Europe, attending the crazy motorcycle rally at Sturgis, South Dakota, and dancing with our daughter at her wedding. Future list items include building a cedar strip kayak and writing a book. Maybe I should find a waterproof laptop so I can write my book while floating in my kayak on Lake Wingra or the bays of Key Largo.

Bruce & Pati hiking in northern Wisconsin

Past Member Profiles

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