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Energy Saving ChallengeSubmitted: 01/30/2013
Story By Ryan Abney


RHINELANDER - Going "green" seems like a popular phrase these days.
For some of us, that's as easy as reusing grocery bags and turning down the heat.

But for bigger organizations, it can be a bigger and more expensive transition.

That's why Wisconsin Public Service decided to make going green a competition.
Leader Leah Van Zile is the W-P-S Community Relations Leader.She said the challenge was created to not only educate but to entertain.

"There's a lot of information about ways to reduce your energy use and ways to save on your bill, but it's not really an exciting topic.So we thought of a way to really encourage community members to become excited about energy, and we thought pairing it with a grant opportunity with non-profits might be a neat spin a new avenue to increase energy awareness in the communities."

The Retired Senior Volunteer Program was one organization to earn a 750-dollar grant. By just switching out light bulbs, she's noticed a HUGE difference.

"I found out myself that if you don't have LED lights the average cost is 9-dollars a month just for a couple strings of lights, LED's is 90-cents...so what a savings."

The W-P-S serves over 700-thousand electric and natural gas customers in Northern Wisconsin and Michigan's Upper Peninsula.


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ANTIGO - You can spot plenty of wildlife in orthern Wisconsin. However, you don't typically see a black belly barbado sheep or a royal palm turkey.

You can go check them out at the new It's All Good Farmstand and Petting Zoo right off Highway 45 in Antigo.

The It's All Good Farmstand and Petting Zoo has a simple goal. It wants people to see interesting animals.
"We decided, what the heck, we should open something to the public to so that everybody that does not have farm critters and enjoy them like we do, can come in and pet the critters and learn a lot of stuff," said owner Cheryl Wirz.

Wirz decided to have her family be part of her staff. It's something she really enjoys.

"I love the fact that my kids are here and they're getting a hands on experience," said Wirz.

"I mostly help load and unload the animals from home to here. Also, I fill up all the water when we get here, and I run the food booth," said staff member and son Aiden Wirz.

That all adds up to work for their kids and there are some perks to working for your parents.

"Mostly, they can't fire me," said Aiden, laughing.

Most animals look familiar to the guests when they come right up to them, but what about the specific breeds?

"We try to promote rare and critically endangered breeds of farm animals. Most people don't even know what they are," said Cheryl Wirz.

The Wirz family is also passionate about the quality of food for their animals.

"We do all organic produce and all of our critters eat all organic. In fact, we grow most of their food," said Cheryl Wirz.

Some young kids might be a litte nervous of the animals at first, but the friendly staff is there to help.

"Little ones will be really nervous and scared, but after awhile they're calmed down and they really love it," said staff member Natasha Lewer.

Even with all the hard work that goes into owning a farm, the happy visitors make it all worth it.

"They light up when they're in there. We had a gentleman that was in a wheelchair and all the animals surrounded him and he was just smiling from ear to ear," said Cheryl Wirz.

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