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FLOW honors 2022 Riverway Champions
At Annual Meeting
2022 Riverway Champions
JOHN JENSEN (second from left) is seen accepting his award as the FLOW ‘2022 Riverway Champion.’ Jensen is seen with past recipients of the award, from left FLOW Science Committee member Dave Marshall, LWSRB executive director Mark Cupp, and FLOW members Ron Grasshof and Ned Hodson, and FLOW president Timm Zumm.

LOWER WISCONSIN RIVERWAY - Each year the Friends of the Lower Wisconsin Riverway (FLOW) honors individuals who provide great service in the Lower Wisconsin Riverway with ‘Riverway Champion Awards.’ This year, at their Annual Membership Meeting held Saturday, Jan. 20, FLOW conferred two awards.

Those two awards were for ‘2022 Riverway Champion,’ and ‘2022 Youth Riverway Champion.’ The youth award was not conferred in 2020 and 2021 due to restrictions in activities due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Riverway Champion award was given to FLOW member John Jensen. The Youth Riverway Champion award was given to Spring Green high school student Skyla Sutcliffe.

John Jensen

John Jensen has been an active member of FLOW for the last seven years, serving on the FLOW board for six of those years. According to FLOW president Timm Zumm, “John is more of a hands-on guy who’d rather be out doing that sitting in a meeting – he says he’s the Riverway Grunt.”

Jensen originally chose to become involved with FLOW as a way to give back to his community and to develop connections with other like-minded folks.

“It's nice working with FLOW because it is selfless work,” Jensen explained. “That’s a big deal to me.”

Jensen’s two biggest accomplishments as a FLOW volunteer include the placement of a total of 14 ‘Kids Don’t Float’ life vest kiosks at boat landings up and down the Riverway, design of the FLOW website, and creation of the FLOW ‘paddle planner.’

“I helped build and install the very first ‘Kids Don’t Float’ kiosk, designed by a Taliesin architect, in 2016,” Jensen remembered. “Since then, I have helped build and install thirteen more.”

The kiosks provide free loaner life vests to Riverway paddlers, and is a program undertaken in cooperation with Wisconsin DNR. Each week during the paddling season, FLOW volunteer Dave Krueger makes the 140-mile round trip to ensure the kiosks are fully stocked with life vests.

“We’ll never know how many lives the life vest kiosks may have saved,” Jensen observed.

Jensen also re-designed the FLOW website,, to its current attractive and informative version. Visitors to the website can learn more about FLOW and the Lower Wisconsin Riverway, find links to river flow data, results of research conducted by the FLOW Science Committee, information about businesses in the Riveway that support FLOW or provide services to recreational users, Riverway safety information and tools, education and outreach programs, a Riverway map and more.

Perhaps the most useful feature on the website is the ‘paddle planner,’ a feature designed to allow those interested in paddling on the Lower Wisconsin River to plan their trip. Jensen volunteered his time to create this tool, which is invaluable to those seeking recreational opportunities as well as those whose role is to answer questions and guide visitors.

“I got inspired to create the ‘paddle planner’ when my wife wanted to go out on the river for a paddle, and said she only wanted to be out there for two hours,” Jensen said. “So I looked at the DNR's Lower Wisconsin River Trails Map, and had to decipher from what landing to what landing would be about a two-hour paddle.”

 According to Jensen, the paddle planner is basically taking the information from the DNR's Lower Wisconsin River Trails Map and arranging it so recreational users can easily see and choose where they want to paddle based on the amount of time they want to paddle.

In receiving this award, Jensen is in good company. At the annual meeting, he was joined by five past recipients of the award – those individuals were Science Committee member Dave Marshall, Lower Wisconsin State Riverway Board (LWSRB) executive director Mark Cupp, FLOW Science Committee member Ron Grasshof, FLOW member Ned Hodson, and FLOW president Timm Zumm.

In 2020, the award was conferred on DNR Warden Dave Youngquist, and in 2021, the award went to FLOW Science Committee member John Lyons. Neither man was present at the meeting.

FLOW AM 2023_Skyla Sutcliffe receives award
SKYLA SUTCLIFFE, 2022 FLOW ‘Youth Riverway Champion’ is seen accepting her award at Peck’s Landing on Tuesday, Jan. 24. Sutcliffe was unable to accept her award at the FLOW Annual Meeting due to an illness. Skyla’s comments, that she would have delivered at the Annual Meeting had she been able to attend are, “Thank you so much to FLOW for honoring me with this award! I also want to say thank you to Timm Zumm for the opportunity to volunteer in helping with FLOW events. I haven't done much yet, but I have enjoyed what I've participated in so far. I look forward to planning and participating in more events in the future! Once again, thank you so much!”

Skyla Sutcliffe

Spring Green highschool student Skyla Sutcliffe was awarded the ‘2022 Youth Riverway Champion’ award for her work supporting FLOW’s outreach and education activities.

Sutcliffe was unable to attend the annual meeting to accept her award, due to an illness. FLOW president Timm Zumm spoke glowingly of Sutcliffe’s passion for the Riverway, and her volunteer efforts in 2022.

“Skyla brought the youthful energy FLOW needs into her work helping to support ‘Flo the Paddlefish’ at parades up and down the Riverway, and at various FLOW events,” Zumm said. “She also worked to organize outings for youth in the Riverway, for example youth hikes at the Spring Green Nature Preserve.”

Zumm showed a video of Sutcliffe helping at a parade in Spring Green, passing out candy, and interacting with the public to help raise awareness of FLOW’s efforts in the Riverway and the benefits of the Lower Wisconsin Riverway in general.