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VSN celebrates 15th anniversary with open house
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In celebration of its 15th anniversary, Valley Stewardship Network (VSN) invites the public to enjoy live music, an art exhibit, and a raffle drawing for a kayak and other prizes on May 1, from 4- 8 p.m. at its new home at 110 South Main St., Viroqua.

The event is intended to celebrate the organization’s accomplishments while giving the public an opportunity to speak with board members, staff, and supporters about its current and future programs and activities.

The open house will feature a show of watercolor paintings by Anne Tedeschi. The artist says that many of her paintings are “inspired by the dramatic light and fascinating patterns and designs in the land, water, and skies of the Driftless region,” where she has been painting since she and her family moved here, almost twenty years ago. The show will be in display through June 30.

The winner of VSN’s kayak and other raffle prizes will be drawn at 6:30 p.m. on the evening of the open house event. Raffle tickets are still available at $10 each or 3 for $25 at the VSN office and until the time of the drawing.

The grand prize is a Perception Prodigy 10.0 kayak with a Werner Baja paddle, donated by Three Rivers Outdoors of La Crosse. The second prize is an overnight stay for two at Nature Nooks Retreat and third prize is a case of Szczutkowski Orchards local and organic applesauce.

“We appreciate the way each of the raffle prizes offers connection with the natural treasures we work to protect every day,” said VSN’s executive director, Shelly Brenneman. All proceeds from the raffle go to support VSN programs.

Over its 15 years, VSN’s work has taken many forms, ranging from cultural celebrations to scientific research to publications and education outreach. In 2003, VSN conducted a three-month community visioning event, called Kickapoo Conversations, for the entire watershed population. A key outcome of this work was establishment of a plan to track water quality in the Kickapoo Valley. This work continues today, as VSN trains Water Action Volunteers and coordinates the collection of water quality data as measures to inform land use improvements. VSN also offers farmers and landowners assistance and access to the many organizations and programs available to help them protect their soil and water.
Since its inception, VSN has worked to raise community awareness and action in response to mounting environmental issues in our vicinity. Its tradition of agency collaboration helped to expand the reach of its messages through work with local, state and federal agencies and organizations. Its  river clean-ups, stewardship hikes, and education activities continue to increase local awareness of sustainability concepts.

Today, VSN continues to play a central organizing role in protecting the Kickapoo’s land and water through education outreach in the areas of water quality,  sustainable land management ecosystems and biodiversity.

To involve community members in these aspects of conservation, a series of family-friendly activities and workshops is currently being offered by VSN. For details, visit