A handful of Northwoods students spent the past five years producing their own music inspired by Ojibwe culture.
"It just started as guitar lessons really," said 10th grade student Elianna Smith.
Singer-songwriter Bobby Bullet St. Germaine spearheaded the effort with wife Pamela Nesbitt Bullet through their Music on the Go program. The program is based at Lac du Flambeau public school but students from other school districts including Rhinelander are involved.
"Building self-esteem and giving them a voice, turned into a CD project," said St. Germain.
Last spring, the Bullet's helped those students known as the Niijii Singers and Ogichidaa Singers create their own album, "Hear our Songs." The album's 12 tracks feature culturally influenced melodies written and performed by students.
"Taking the culture and rolling with it in song," said Nesbitt.
On Nov. 2, the Niijii Singers and Ogiichidaa Singers were honored at the Native American Music Awards (NAMIs) in Niagara, New York. The student group was one of six nominees in the New or Debut Duo/Group category.
"I was actually pretty surprised of getting nominated because we're the youngest people to make the music like this," said 8th grade student Leland King.
The students did not ultimately win in the category which they were nominated. However, they were honored with the first Rising Star Award in Native American Music Award history.
"Just goes to show with hard work and determination big things can happen," said Lac du Flambeau Public School principal Brian Fieck.
Several students in the Niijii Singers and Ogichidaa Singers took their first ever flights when traveling to the Native American Music Awards.
To help the group pay back some of those travel costs, you can reach out the Lac du Flambeau Public School. "Hear our Songs" CDs are available for purchase locally.
CRANDON - The Forest County Humane Society works around the clock to help animals find forever homes. But taking care of those animals during their stay doesn't just take a lot of time; it takes a lot of money, too.
The shelter got a helping hand, thanks to a $35,000 grant from the ASPCA. It's part of an initiative to help brick-and-mortar shelters improve their animals' quality of life.
Shelter director Angie Schaefer says that money paid for 20 new cat-condos, fencing for two new dog yards, and several other much-needed supplies.
"We're small, we're in a small community, so to raise that kind of money to get these items would have been quite a task. For them to step in and do that for us is amazing," said Schaefer.
Schaefer said the extra yards will allow dogs to spend more time outside and socialize with each other.
If you're interested in volunteering or donating to the humane society, visit its website for more information.
NORTHWOODS - Wisconsin's lakes have a lot to offer their visitors. But some, like aquatic invasive species, are unwelcome due to the damage they can cause to native ecosystems.
There's a growing effort to prevent, contain, and control the spread of these aquatic invasive species, especially this holiday weekend. As part of the Clean Boats, Clean Waters program, volunteers will be stationed across popular boat landings, doing inspections and educating boaters on how to properly clean their boats.
"Any type of holiday weekend, especially the fourth of July when there's a lot more boat traffic, there's an emphasis on getting more awareness out there," said DNR recreation warden Justin Bender.
Aside from volunteers, most boat landings also have information posted on aquatic invasive species and the laws regarding boat cleaning. Citations for not properly cleaning your boats typically run $200-300.
- The U.S. headed into the Fourth of July weekend with many parades and fireworks displays canceled, beaches and bars closed, and health authorities warning that this will be a crucial test of Americans' self-control that could determine the trajectory of the surging coronavirus outbreak.
With confirmed cases climbing in 40 states, governors and local officials have ordered the wearing of masks in public, and families were urged to celebrate their independence at home. Even then, they were told to keep their backyard cookouts small.
MADISON, WI - Cigarette smoking rates have dropped since Wisconsin's Smoke-Free Indoor Air Law went into effect 10 years ago.
In 2008, before the law passed, 20% of Wisconsin adults smoked cigarettes. By 2018, the rate had dropped to 16%. High school youth cigarette smoking rates dropped from nearly 21% in 2008 to nearly 5% in 2018.
State cigarette taxes were also increased during this time period and contribute to this reduction.
"Wisconsin is breathing easier today thanks to this law, but we know there are many people in our state who still smoke," said DHS Secretary-Designee Andrea Palm. "We urge smokers to take advantage of the programs available to help them to quit, especially now during the COVID-19 pandemic, as people who smoke are believed to be more susceptible to the virus, and can become severely ill with it."
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