CUBA CITY—Following in his parents’ footsteps, Jim Gerhards wanted to be actively involved in his children’s activities as they grew up. His father volunteered in many capacities—coach, Cub Scout committee chair and firefighter. He said his mother was very supportive of his activities as well.
Now it’s his turn to give back, not only to his family, but to the community. Gerhards is currently an active Boy Scout leader and serves on both the Cuba City Fire Department (CCFD) and Cuba City Area Rescue Squad (CCARS). He used to coach for his sons’ ball teams as well.
“It’s important for me to be there for them, like my parents were for me,” Gerhards said. “I might not know a lot about their sports, but I wanted them to feel that it was just as important to me to be there for them as how I appreciated that when my parents were always there for me.”
Gerhards was Scoutmaster for four years and has also served as troop committee chair and pack committee chair. He is also a brotherhood member of Order of the Arrow. He has gone through a Wood Badge course, which he described as the Eagle Scout badge for Scout leaders; the process required five projects to be completed within 18 months.
“I believe in the scouting program so much,” Gerhards said. “I don’t have any boys of my own in it anymore, but I’m still a leader. I do it for the boys, not for any recognition. I just want to see the Scouts get something out of the program and better themselves. They may even find a future career out of it. That’s the neat thing about the merit badges. They’ll get a little taste of what interests them and it may lead to a future career.”
He was a Cub Scout in Potosi, crossed over to Boy Scouts and was a part of that organization until he was 15.
“At that age I lost my desire to be a part of the Scout troop, so I quit,” Gerhards said. “It’s one of my biggest regrets in my life. I tell the Scout groups that now because I wasn’t that far away from getting my Eagle Scout badge. To me back then, scouting wasn’t cool.”
Gerhards has lived in Cuba City for 16 years. He grew up in Potosi and moved to Dickeyville in 1991. A decade later he moved to Cuba City.
Regrets of his own short-lived Boy Scouts experience drove Jim Gerhards to get involved with the organization again with his own children. When his oldest son, Ryan, was 9 and joined the Cub Scouts, Gerhards became Cub master for four years. When he crossed over to the Boy Scouts, Gerhards was assistant scout master. When his youngest son, Brett, joined the Cub Scouts, Gerhards served as assistant den leader, then took over as scout master when Brett became a Boy Scout.
Through the Boy Scouts, Gerhards has been involved in the annual food drive in Benton, Dickeyville, Cuba City and Kieler the last six years.
Gerhards noted Jim Bussan, Greg Johll and the rest of the scouting leaders, Tim Bell, Kevin Ward and Dick Davies, for their influence and assistance with the scouting program.
“People say they don’t have time for volunteering,” Gerhards said. “I’m involved in three different aspects. It’s all about your priorities. I’ve managed to balance life with my family and with all of the activities, even as a single parent.”
Gerhards’ example has led to his sons getting involved as well.
“I encouraged my son, Brett, who earned Eagle Scout, to be one of the assistant leaders now,” Gerhards said. “He just did a wilderness first aid training that I put out there for scout leaders. He’s really looking forward to getting involved as well. I guess his old man is rubbing off on him.”
Ryan is also on the CCFD now.
Gerhards is the captain of the heavy duty rescue squad for CCFD and an emergency medical responder for CCARS.
He is also a member of the Knights of Columbus and is part of the committee that formed to save the Scout house.
He recently went back to school at NICC for his HVAC diploma.
“Dedicating a big share of your life as Jim has done for all the kids in scouting and as a volunteer fire fighter is such a plus for Cuba City,” Cuba City Mayor Tom Gile said. “With people so graciously volunteering, we are able to offer so much more to our residents. Whenever we ask for help or support, the people of Cuba City respond. We are so grateful.”
Editor's Note: This column will be a special addition to the Tri-County Press on a monthly basis. Look for each installment near the end of the month. All volunteers are recomended for the article by Mayor Tom Gile. If you have ideas for future volunteers in the community to be recognized, contact Gile at 608-744-3203.