Northwoods Spotlight - Min-Aqua Bats July 24Submitted: 07/24/2013
Story By Marisa Silvas

MINOCQUA - The Northwoods provides many summer activities to enjoy outdoors. But not all of them include free entertainment... Three nights a week, you can head to Lake Minocqua and take in a waterski show.

Andrew McFerrin "We're a 100% amateur waterski club," Andrew McFerrin explains. He's one of the members of the Min-Aqua Bats.

Another member, Elin Wahman adds, "It's been one of the best things I've done in my life."

Since 1950, the Min-Aqua Bats have been entertaining locals and tourists with a top notch ski show. The performers range from pre-teens to 25 years old and it's clear they love what they do.

"It's like acrobatics on waterskis and it's an incredible thing to watch," says Anna Tedstrom also from the Min-Aqua Bats.

Mary Beyer is a fan.

"It's nice enjoyment and it's wonderful to see what the kids do out there."

For many of the skiers, being a Min-aqua bat runs in the family.

Elin "My mom was a Min-Aqua Bat," Elin Wahman proudly proclaims.

Connor Tedstrom adds, "My grandma was a Min-Aqua Bat in the '50's."

Some just grew up liking the idea of performing.

Christian Wahman says, "I definitely thought that these people watersking were so cool and I wanted to be one of them when I was older."

Anna Tedstrom adds, "I used to watch the shows and be like, oh my god, that's the girl on top of the pyramid, I want to be her."

They're known as the world's oldest amateur waterski team... and they perform a wide variety of exciting acts.

The shows here attract quite a crowd and the skiers become local celebrities.

"It's fun to walk downtown with a bunch of our Min-Aqua Bat friends and they're like, oh those are the Min-Aqua Bats," Anna Tedstrom explains.

Christian Wahman says, "It's great to have all the little kids come down and ask for autographs after the show."

And this talented group shows no signs of slowing down.

Chris Coleman is a former Min-Aqua Bat.

"I'm hopeful that the club continues and that they can maintain the heritage that we've built."

Connor Tedstrom says, "There's a lot of traditions here and we've just got to keep it going for another 64 years."

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RHINELANDER - The Northwoods Land Trust helps protect about 12,000 acres of natural lands in six northern Wisconsin counties.

That amount of conservation is a big job. But the organization employs just one full-time and two part-time staff members.

The Land Trust relies on the help of about 40 volunteers to accomplish its mission, volunteers like Nancy Richmond.

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Wild Instincts has helped rehabilitate wildlife across the state since 2011. Director Mark Naniot explained that with a growing need to help animals comes a growing need for space.

The Green Gift program uses funds from Cellcom's cell phone recycling program to fund green non-profit initiatives.

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But the true first responder is often the person they'll never meet.

It's Nicole Lea's job to be at her best when you're at your worst.

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MADISON - Wisconsin may be the dairy state, but we've seen a decline in the number of dairy farms.

A report from the federal Agriculture Department shows that Wisconsin lost almost 400 dairy farms in the last year.

About 94-thousand dairy herds were active in the state as of October 1st.

Wisconsin Dairy Business Association President Gordon Speirs says the number of lost farms this year is low compared to previous years.

Annual losses reached as high as 1-thousand in some years.

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The latest data posted on the Wisconsin Elections Commission website shows 55,000 ballots cast in Milwaukee and Dane counties.

21,700 have come in from three conservative counties near Milwaukee.

Over 183,000 were cast statewide.

Republican candidates typically must do well in those Milwaukee suburban counties to counter the Democratic votes in Milwaukee and Madison.

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ST. GERMAIN - Helping patients feel better comes first for one pharmacist in St. Germain, but every Wednesday in October these patients are returning the favor by buying her cupcakes for a cause.

People know to head to pharmacist Jennifer Hansen when they're sick; however, many of them also know they can walk out of St. Germain Pharmacy with one of her cupcakes for Down Syndrome Awareness month.

This is the fourth year Jennifer is baking the cupcakes for her sons' Lakeland Area Special Olympics team.

One of her sons has Down Syndrome and the other has Autism.

"It's not about disabilities or what they can't do. It is shining and highlighting what they can do and all the many things they can do," said Hansen.

Donations from the cupcakes allowed her kids and fellow teammates to get new uniforms and head to different tournaments around the state.

Just as much as she knows patients by name, they know about her sons and always ask about them.

Jennifer says the generosity of the Northwoods community is overwhelming.

Many of her customers ask about the cupcakes months in advance to make sure they can donate.

"I'll still do them as long as my oven keeps working and nothing else bad happens," said Hansen.

Jennifer's boys and their teammates will be heading to Merrill for a bowling tournament this weekend.

Cupcake sales go through the end of October.

Jennifer also has cupcakes in exchange for donations in April for Autism Awareness Month.

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