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Grace E. Olson

Grace E. Olson

Wednesday, 31 January 2018 22:33

From the editor

February is an interesting time of the year. It’s not shiny and new like January, but not quite spring’s beginning in March. I’ll lovably call it a middle child (because that’s where I happen to fall in birth order myself).

Don’t let this seemingly lackadaisical month fool you. It packs a punch. And it does so in the most full circle way. There’s a simple association to hearts because of their abundance in February, both in the literal, anatomical sense and also in its more whimsical, intuitive definition. Valentine’s Day falls in the middle and the whole 28 day span is dedicated to National Heart Month and spreading awareness about cardiovascular health. The passion that Dr. Yasser Salem and his team at Heart Failure Survival Center of America hold for both the health and quality of life of their patients is admirable, and we’re glad to tell their story.

This February is also special for us at Nature’s Pathways Magazine. For 12 years, we’ve included a convenient section called the Community Partners Directory where local experts can be found easily in a manner that speaks to your wants and needs. Because of its success, we’ve included our first annual separate piece with our print publication to help make connecting with community organizations easier than ever in 2018. To check it out and grab yours, find a newsstand here:

Enjoy exploring all our community has to offer and be sure to tell your favorite local businesses that you saw them in the CPD. Remember to visit the CPD section here on the website where you can link directly to their websites and social media accounts.

Connecting is what it’s all about!


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The concept of “quality of life” is often different for everyone, but it’s clear in its purpose in providing a positive perspective — it brings a hope that has the power to change someone’s everyday living. In short, it translates to a genuine delight in being alive and being able to enjoy both the big and little things life has to offer.

When one loses that sense of belief due to health issues, hope can be lost and it may seem unlikely that those good days will ever return. Heart Failure Survival Center of America’s most adamant mission is to see patients not only survive, but thrive. And they do so in a multitude of ways through patient-centered, well-rounded care.

“Our integrated system provides comprehensive care to cardiac, pulmonary hypertension and heart failure patients throughout the continuum of their disease stages,” Dr. Salem says. “No matter what the condition is, our main goal is to improve the patient’s survivability, independence and quality of life.”

Dr. Yasser Salem is a board-certified physician in cardiovascular disease, advanced heart failure, cardiac transplant, echocardiography, nuclear cardiology, CT angiography, vascular medicine and internal medicine. He and his team at Heart Failure Survival Center of America (HFSCA) provide an array of treatments and tests to ensure all aspects of care are covered.

Dedicated to answering your health questions

Dr. Salem explains that cardiovascular health is complex, and he looks at the whole body to investigate any potential underlying causes to discover why the heart may be failing.

“We try to connect the dots to get to the root of the problem,” Dr. Salem says. “We take care of the person as a whole. We dig through the details of any other things that might have contributed to risk or future risk, down to the genes. We like to solve mysteries… and that gives (patients) hope and independence again.”

Understandably, it can be a tough journey of care when it comes to heart failure, but the team at HFSCA provides a much needed boost of morale.

“Sometimes we see people come in with a negative outlook on life,” Kaitlin Parsons, HFSCA Exercise Physiologist, says. “They’re not enjoying life and they feel they have a death sentence with heart failure. But they come in, they start to feel better, open up and they come out of their shell — taking this person who isn’t themself and changing their attitude is one of my favorite parts.”

However, the team urges people to come in long before they may be feeling sick or seeing symptoms. Their ideal approach to health care is likened to the age-old car analogy because it resonates with so many.

“Our preventive therapy is like buying a car,” Dr. Salem explains. “Most of the disease we see takes a long time to show symptoms, it’s slow-progressing and can be silent so you need to maintain your health like you would a new vehicle. Every 1,000 miles you do this and that to make sure your car works. It’s the same with your body.”

That also means Dr. Salem and the HFSCA team are continuously learning and keeping up to date on technology, and improvements and advancements in their field.

“Education is very important to us to make sure we’re on the same page with statistics and studies,” Tracy Rymer, sonographer at HFSCA, says. “Dr. Salem is always willing to meet with pharmaceutical reps because they offer so much information. We love hearing about the latest studies and getting involved.”

“Once people find us, without exception, they always walk out feeling so grateful,” Kaylah Portmann, HFSCA Administrative Assistant, says. “And when they come in again, they’re like family.”

Comprehensive care under one roof — at two convenient locations

As an entirely outpatient cardiac health center, HFSCA is one of the first of its kind in northeast Wisconsin. The Appleton space was built in a way that encompasses all of the services that a patient might need — internal medicine, cardiovascular medicine, heart failure and cardiac transplant.

Dr. Salem and his team also bring this level of expertise to their second location in Marinette County. Dr. Salem and his team travel to Crivitz twice a week (Monday and Wednesday) to provide acute care to a population that previously didn’t have easy access nearby, straying from the typical hospital setting and instead providing a family-oriented practice they can feel welcome in.

“The complex patients’ access to care was the hospital that’s almost 35 minutes away,” Dr. Salem explains. “So we’re able to offer acute care for patients who need it.”

He and the HFSCA team do so at Quantum Healthcare, a medical practice with family medical physician, Dr. Peter Curio, which encompasses family medicine, primary and urgent care offering diabetes treatment, hypertension treatment, immunizations, physical exams for all ages and more, along with Dr. Salem’s cardiology specialty.

“(HFSCA) is convenient too. We do everything here and do everything in the most timely manner we can in the urgency that’s needed underneath this roof,” Heidi Miller, RN, BSN at HFSCA says.

“It’s all done here,” Tracy says. “And if you do have to go to another facility we will find the closest one for you that’s in your network.”

“It’s bringing heart care to the rural community,” Sarah Ehlert, HFSCA Clinic Manager, adds. “Dr. Salem has been a huge asset to the area; there is no other cardiac care that covers all of those smaller communities.” 

“Dr. Salem is a world class cardiologist. He has a unique patient-oriented approach… I am 47 years old and I never had a more detailed physical examination. Dr. Salem brought my life back by eliminating symptoms… with a correct diagnosis and treatment. God bless Dr. Salem and (his) wonderful team! —A K.

At Heart Failure Survival Center of America, our mission is to improve patients' quality of life; helping patients not only survive, but thrive. To reduce heart failure hospitalization by providing world-class cardiovascular, advanced heart failure and internal medicine care in a one-site location close to home.

Dr. Salem and the team at HFSCA provide an array of services to help in the management of cardiovascular diseases and disorders, and perform several procedures in two convenient locations (Appleton and Crivitz!). This includes:


  • EKG
  • Cardioversion
  • Echocardiogram
  • Ankle-brachial index (ABI)
  • Transesophageal echocardiogram
  • Blood testing
  • Tilt table testing
  • Nuclear stress testing
  • Exercise stress testing
  • Stress echocardiogram
  • Dobutamine stress echo
  • Cardio-pulmonary stress testing
  • Cardiac rehabilitation
  • External counterpulsation (ECP) therapy
  • Observation care
  • Cardiovascular prevention care
  • Chronic care management
  • Consultations and follow up
  • Second opinions

National Heart Month

You may be seeing an influx of familiar red and pink shapes this month because of Valentine’s Day, but it’s not the only way hearts take the stage. February is National Heart Month and HFSCA participates in the health initiative to support and bring awareness to heart failure support and caregivers.

Helping patients not only survive, but thrive

Heart Failure Surivial Center of America


2700 East Enterprise Avenue, Suite B, Appleton



(Quantum Healthcare)

515 North US Highway 141, Crivitz


Holistic health is defined as “a form of healing that considers the whole person — body, mind, spirit and emotions — in the quest for optimal health and wellness.” It’s a well-known explanation, and is generally used to encompass several aspects of one’s journey to well-being: a mixture of modalities and techniques to find balance in a variety of aspects. 

It’s rare and unique to find it all rolled into one experience, but that’s exactly what Aerial Dance Pole Exercise in Appleton offers as a carefully constructed and thoughtful space that provides so much more than physical exercise.

Founder and owner Dr. Paula Brusky has intentionally and knowingly created a sanctuary for women, a place where students and instructors alike feel safe and empowered through fitness and community.

“We’re a sanctuary where women can discover their strength and believe in their beauty all while networking with other adventurous women,” she says. “Be adventurous! Be courageous! So much of our culture tells women to be shameful and reserved, and we adamantly want the opposite. Our women want to get strong and feel good about themselves, but they also want to find cool women to be friends with.” 

A full-service fitness community

In addition to what Paula refers to as “play classes” (tricks-based classes on a specific apparatus) that have catapulted the studio into a class of its own, Aerial Dance also provides strength and conditioning classes more recognized in a typical gym environment.

“We teach pole, hoop, hammock and silks and also have a full line of flexibility conditioning and strength building classes. It’s not just the adventurous stuff, it’s the nuts and bolts classes that help members work toward and build up to a pullup or increase range of motion – exactly what women need as they age.”

Paula stresses that you can be a member without ever touching one of the apparatus, and the programs offered are designed for women who get bored and want new and interesting components each visit, including workouts with kettlebells, free weights, resistant bands, and body weight exercises.

All programs are taught by highly trained and certified instructors who are working as hard behind the scenes as in front of the class. Cross collaboration is important at Aerial Dance, and classes are designed with each woman on the roster in mind. For example, Paula explains that if a student had been struggling with a move the week before, a specific exercise will be included in that week’s conditioning class curriculum to specifically address the problem. It’s all in an effort to help women stay engaged and reach their goals.

“Our programs change constantly. And the great thing is that they’re all very small class sizes. It’s particularly true for our strength and conditioning classes that have a max of five women, so really you’re talking about small group personal training and it’s included in your membership. Even our ‘big’ classes are usually eight women,” she explains.

When it comes to the aerial arts, your interests and comfort level dictate what you should try first, and that varies from wanting to try flying and being off the ground to exploring the sensual side and “tricks.” 

So what are they and how do they work? Paula explains: 

Pole. A vertical metal object that is attached to the ceiling and the floor — it’s gymnastics on a vertical apparatus. “Pole is going to be an Olympic sport in 2024 – there are two international groups working to make this a reality!”

Aerial hoop. A metal ring you do tricks on that is suspended in the air. “Hoop is very attainable because once you get in the hoop, there’s a lot you can do without having to lift your bodyweight again.”

Aerial hammock. One loop of fabric that has both ends attaching at the top. “The loop is much easier to start with because you can sit in it.”

Aerial silks. Silks are two strands of fabric that are attached at one point and come down to become two separate pieces.

Choosing and exploring the apparatus to try first (they offer an Intro to Aerial class so you can try Hoop, Hammock and Silks in one class!) is fun, but the safety of students and staff is taken very seriously. The studio features only the most state-of-the-art and dependable gear. 

“Because of how we install our permanent poles, there are no weight limits and the pole itself can spin or be static. In our aerial program, we have a custom-designed steel aerial structure that you can hang cars off of. 

“In general, you’re supposed to have a 2,000 pound point load to hang a human. That’s the safety factor. Ours at Aerial Dance are 30 times that. It lets me sleep at night, and I really like sleeping!” Paula laughs. “I want to know that my students and instructors are safe.”

She also explains that falls do happen, and that’s all a part of learning a new sport. In advanced classes – when students are not upright but inverted and injury is a potential concern – each student has a spotter when learning a new trick, just like in gymnastics programs. Paula developed a curriculum to help keep both the instructor who is spotting and the student who is trying the trick safe from injury, and also in a great mental space to keep attempting tricks and goals.

“Even when a student is “falling” out of a move and an instructor is stopping her, with our spotting technique the student is able to recover the move and is able to come down on her own safely,” she explains. “So she’s not afraid of the move later, which is really important from a mental standpoint.” 

Find your strength. Believe your beauty.

The aerial arts provide a whole body workout, but what Paula says is one of the most significant components of Aerial Dance has little to do with physical fitness. 

“We spend a lot of time getting to know our women and getting to know what they’re going through,” Paula says. “We find out where they need support so we’re able to offer that to them. There’s something that happens when you’re scared and doing a move for the first time, and you’re trusting your spotter with your life – literally – that develops a different level of comfort.

“As instructors we’re all very different, which I think is important and unique. It’s not our job to do anything but support you, both in the air and on the ground.” 

Paula and her instructors cultivate an environment of celebration, not competition. Being true to yourself and finding out who you are is as much a part of the process as learning to use the hammock and silks, and every step is celebrated. 

“There’s a lot of individuality in the aerial arts,” she says. “We foster a ‘help each other because life can be hard’ attitude. The more cheerleaders we have on our path, the more willing we are to walk it.

“Find your strength. Believe your beauty. You’re already strong, you are already beautiful. We hear a lot about finding a new you and losing weight going into the New Year, but we don’t want that. Aerial Dance is all about what you can gain and owning what’s already there.” 

“I think it’s important to understand that the aerial arts are about you, and not about eliciting something from someone else. It’s about your journey and feeling comfortable in your own skin. It’s discovering what your body is capable of. It’s about confronting your fears and succeeding. It empowers you and makes you feel strong internally as well as gaining strength externally.” —Dr. Paula Brusky

Building emotional strength 

“We spend so much time working on our physical body and not enough on emotionally building strength,” Paula says. “We’re going to be starting a book club in January — a book a month — about pertinent things happening in life.” 

Titles like Brene Brown’s “The Gifts of Imperfection,” Terry Orlick’s “In Pursuit of Excellence” and other books about self-compassion and loving and accepting yourself are all on the table in an effort to provide another healthy outlet through Aerial Dance’s supportive community. 

“We want our members to be able to explore other ideas about themselves. Smart is sexy!” 


It’s no surprise that with the supportive environment and focus on reveling each other’s successes that Aerial Dance likes to celebrate — in a big way — each year. Their annual Christmas Show and Holiday Party applauds the past year’s progress in December as a way to celebrate and showcase the growth the students and instructors have seen over the last year. 

And it’s not just the routine and physical tricks that are cheered for. Paula says that it’s about getting excited about outgrowing comfort zones and developing confidence that she sees as a big reason the applause and cheers for the performances are so loud.

“All body shapes and sizes, and all ability levels perform,” she says. “A lot of people have a misconception that you have to look a certain way to do this. You don’t. You can be a very successful aerial artist at any shape and size.” 

Aerial Dance Pole Exercise

1871 N. Silverspring Drive, Appleton


To find schedules and to register for classes (or to check out what members have to say about Aerial Dance!), visit

682.5 gallons of oil, 7,000 gallons of water and 3.3 cubic yards of landfill space.

According to “Waste Reduction is a Smart Business Decision,” these are the figures recycling one ton of paper saves. 2.5 million is the number of plastic bottles Americans throw away every hour. And 500 years is how long it takes for them to break down.

Today it’s easier than ever to see the benefits of recycling. And it’s also never been more straightforward to get into the habit of including it in your daily routine. The option to do so is virtually everywhere, and the physical act has been simplified since the practice first came on the scene.

The evolution to a single-stream system in northeast Wisconsin has helped recycling programs achieve remarkable success and a new standard of ease. One can simply toss all their recyclables — paper, metal, plastic, glass, etc. — in one bin.

However, there are important guidelines.

It’s Tri-County Recycling’s job to make sure they’re followed — for the safety of their employees and the well-being of our communities and the earth. Brown, Outagamie and Winnebago Counties joined forces in 2009 to build the state-of-the-art Tri-County Recycling facility to better serve the region’s recycling programs. The combination has allowed a huge increase in capacity to accept and sort through recyclable material, and the joint effort allows for continuous improvements. With the single-stream process in place, you may think you know all there is to know.

But are you recycling right?

“One misconception that people have is they think they can recycle anything that’s plastic,” Christine Miller, Recycling Coordinator for Outagamie County Recycling, says. “Because it’s plastic they think they should always throw it in the recycling bin and that is not the case.”

“People want to recycle as much as they can, but only certain types of plastic can be recycled in your curbside bin,” Mark Walter, Business Development Manager for Brown County Port & Resource Recovery, explains. “Plastic bags, plastic toys, coolers, lawn furniture and kids’ play furniture are not accepted.”

“Typically, the plastics we can recycle are food and beverage containers or household items like detergent jugs, and shampoo bottles — plastic containers that are often found in your kitchen, laundry room or bathroom,” Kathy Hutter, Recycling Program Manager for Winnebago County, adds.

When nonrecyclable material is mixed in with acceptable items, it can cause major problems to the facility’s well-oiled machines — literally!

Plastic bags, film and wraps clog the sorting screens, cause maintenance issues and prevent proper sorting from happening. Thus, Tri-County Recycling sorting staff must spend time cutting film and debris from the screens (see image to the left), which is dangerous and labor intensive. And once the plastic film and bags are removed, they are too dirty to then be recycled.

That doesn’t mean you should cross plastic bags off your recyclable list entirely. Christine explains that they are a perfect example of recyclable material if handled in the proper way and brought to a grocery or retail location. Included in this category are dry cleaning bags, bags used for ice, bread bags, newspaper bags, and bubble wrap or air pillows for shipping.

“They are a major contaminant for us; however, plastic bags are very recyclable if they stay clean and dry,” Christine says. “Take them from your home directly to a store drop off.”

Along with unwanted plastic, the Tri-County Recycling facility experiences contamination issues that have the potential to cause damage to sorting equipment or are a health risk to sanitation workers. But they’re completely preventable with a little cooperation.

“It’s a matter of resisting the temptation of putting everything in the curbside bin hoping we can recycle it,” Kathy says. “We’ve made recycling so convenient, we really need people to be conscientious about what they’re putting in their recycling bin and understanding that there are items that cause issues for our sorters and how the facility runs.”

Clothing, bedding, rope/twine and hoses encompass what are known as “tanglers,” a major contaminant of recycling. They pose the same problem as plastic bags, and clog and wrap around the sorting screens (see photo above). As an alternative to sending them off to the recycling facility, these items should be donated or thrown in the trash.

Even more dangerous, the top contamination items are known as “sharps” — needles, syringes and lancets — and have the potential to cause serious health issues.

“If a container full of sharps comes in and bursts open, anyone on the line is exposed to whatever is in that container, which could be infectious diseases,” Kathy explains. “Accidental needle sticks to sorting staff, loss of production, shutting down the facility, disposal expenses and medical expenses to treat affected staff are all possible repercussions of placing sharps in your recycling bin.”

Instead, Tri-County Recycling urges people to dispose of needles, syringes and lancets in designated sharps containers at local drop-off locations.

“The safety of our staff is the most important thing,” Christine says. “We’re working on getting more sharps collection sites within our area.” 

Recycling: Do you know right from wrong?


METAL: Aluminum, steel, tin, bottles and cans

GLASS: Food and beverage bottles and jars (all colors)

PLASTIC: All household plastic bottles, cups and containers:

  • Dairy containers and lids
  • Produce, bakery and deli containers
  • Soda, water and other drink bottles
  • Food and household bottles, jars and jugs


  • Cartons (milk, juice, soup, wine, etc.)
  • Newspapers, magazines, junk mail and catalogs
  • Cardboard and paperboard
  • Office, writing and school paper
  • Phonebooks, softcover and hardcover books
  • Shredded paper (place in a paper bag and staple shut)


  • Clothing/tanglers

“As already mentioned, plastic bags, ropes and hoses cause big problems with the sorting equipment as it gets tangled in the equipment. Nonacceptable material also ends up in the landfill. Both issues cost money to fix, which means that the recycling process becomes more expensive for your local community.”

—Mark Walter, Business Development Manager for Brown County Port & Resource Recovery

Gift wrap: the nightmare after the holidays?

It’s that time of year! The holidays are fast approaching, and that means an abundance of parties, gift exchanges and messes. What should you do with the aftermath? Christine explains that gift wrap and tissue paper are not accepted in our local recycling program, and points out why such items wreak havoc on the system:

  • Many gift wraps are made from aluminum foil and film plastic. These wraps are usually very shiny and durable, but are not easily distinguishable from paper wrapping.
  • During gift opening, people often throw ribbons, bows, garbage and tissue paper all together inside a large plastic bag. All items mentioned, including the plastic bag, cause problems for the recycling sorting facility and the paper mills that accept the material.
  • Tissue paper is not recyclable because the fibers in tissue paper are long and weak. Strong and short fibers are necessary in order to recycle paper.

Tri-County Recycling urges you to be mindful this holiday season by inspecting and separating 100 percent paper wrapping from all the ribbons, bows, garbage, tissue paper and plastic bags. If you take these steps, you are welcome to recycle your gift wrap!

To learn more about Tri-County Recycling and the efforts in Brown, Outagamie and Winnebago Counties, visit or their individual sites: and

What constitutes healthy living is subjective, and is often based on a variety of things that essentially add up to an overall balanced existence. Physical fitness, mental and emotional well-being, and connecting to a deeper sense of self and spirituality are often parts of such a life.

No one quite understands the significance of this holistic approach more than The YMCA of the Fox Cities (the Y). The group includes five locations: Apple Creek, Appleton, Fox West, Heart of the Valley and Neenah-Menasha, and all carry a strong focus on the spirit, mind and body connection. To describe the group as a “fitness center” is technically accurate, but also only one miniscule piece of multi-dimensional and impressive puzzle. In fact, the establishment doesn’t even mention the two words but instead offer an all-encompassing message in its mission statement:

To put Christian principles into practice by promoting youth, adult and family activities that build a healthy spirit, mind and body for all.

“There’s no other organization that focuses on the total person like the Y does,” Joel Zeiner, a YMCA Mission Emphasis Committee member and local pastor, says. “It encompasses all. People can focus on the physical and be very strong, but their mental or spiritual state might be completely absent.”

“The Y is a place to nurture everyone at every level of their self-development,” Maeghan Johnson, Arts and Humanities Director for the Neenah-Menasha Y location, adds. “We provide tools to really find life balance. We’re all-inclusive and a positive place for all of our members and staff.”

“The members set the culture,” Scott Schanhofer, Executive Director for the Neenah-Menasha location, says. “The staff is great, and our whole philosophy is that we want to leave something better than we found it. It’s a home and there’s a sense of ownership. It’s really cool.”

“We have programs of all types — fitness is truly only a portion of what we do,” Kourtney Kositzke, Arts and Humanities Coordinator in Appleton, says. “We always say ‘cradle to grave’ because we have child care, we have programs for active older adults, youth sports, visual arts. Across the board we have a wide variety.”


One of the ways the YMCA of the Fox Cities encompasses the “something for everyone” mantra is by providing healthy practices for spirituality. And for both longtime members and new visitors, it’s more than the words that make up the mission statement that create the environment that conjures up warmth and a genuine sense of acceptance. It’s a feeling.

“When you walk into the YMCA, we want you to feel it, to feel welcome,” Joel says. “We have a Christian foundation but all faiths are welcome — no matter who you are or your condition — we want you here.”

The YMCA is committed to helping members on their spiritual journeys and make sure to do so in a natural and organic way. Meetings are begun with invocations, inspirational quotes are found on the walls and there are Bible verses littered throughout; however, they are mindful to present spirituality and spirit health in a natural, respective manner.

“We have a spiritual exercise board so people can engage with it at their own leisure. It doesn’t have to be intimidating or a part of a program,” Joel says. “We also have a devotional booklet that we give every leader that provides a lot of different material to use — whether it’s starting a cycling class with music to inspire people spiritually or starting a workshop with a devotion.”

Spiritual workshops vary from all-purpose adult Bible studies at the Appleton YMCA to more focused groups such as Fellowship and Friendship: A program for seniors to join other members for coffee, treats and fellowship; Conversations on Scripture; and Women’s Bible Friendship Group, focusing on spiritual practices of rest and simplicity for women of all ages.

“The one thing that really makes a strong Y is a leadership team that believes in the full holistic focus: spirit, mind and body,” Joel adds. “(The YMCA of the Fox Cities) team does. I’m so proud of that.”


Arts and humanities have long been considered a vital part of a person’s development, and the Y provides a variety of programs for children and teens to set the tone for mental and emotional well-being and growth as early as two years old.

“There’s a lot of diversity in ages,” Maeghan says. “We have a working pottery studio, painting, drawing, stop motion, stain glass working. You name it, we probably do it.”

The art classes are presented in an array of ways and curriculum, like the complimentary program developed at the Y called Artful Expression, encompassing the idea that art has the power to heal and provide coping mechanisms for those who may struggle to express themselves in other ways.

“It’s a program focused on teens, grades 5-12,” Kourtney explains. “It’s great for kids who are battling a mental illness, or it could be as simple as suffering from a lack of self-esteem or confidence. They learn to use art as a form of expression.

“Each child is different but our idea is that by giving them art techniques and making sure that when they’re doing the art they feel good, when they’re struggling and they’re not in our classroom, they can start drawing and feel better inside.”

Participants in the Artful Expression program are often referred by school counselors or teachers, and classes can be accommodated for all schedules: both during the day for homeschooled students, after school and on weekends.

The Y also offers family programming in the form of one-day workshops and progressive week-long courses.

“We love hosting family classes for an intergenerational group to come together. It opens family dialogue. Once you start creating something, you really start to see the conversation flow. I’ve heard so many parents say, ‘You actually got my teenager to talk to me!’” Maeghan laughs. “They’re able to connect in a face-to-face, engaging way.”

The Growth and Development program helps children prepare for school and focuses on fine motor and gross motor skills, and socialization. Private (one-on-one) and semi-private (two students to one instructor) music lessons for piano, violin, drums and voice — to name a few — are offered as well as humanities courses for safety in the form of classes teaching the importance of safety in technology to babysitting certification and bike safety.

“We can start to see the trends in our community and parents really set the pathway for us by letting us know what they’d like to see and what our next curriculum should be,” Maeghan says.

“I personally oversee the dance program. We offer every genre you can imagine: ballet, tap, jazz, hip hop, ballroom — baton is making a comeback. We have both recreational and competitive programs. Every student is welcome and everyone is a part of a team. We work a lot with special needs clientele and we hold a great sense that there’s nothing that can’t be accomplished.”

“Mental health concerns can start as early as young childhood,” Kourtney adds. “Finding things that kids enjoy and make them happy will help them in the long run and can help them get past some of the struggles they might face… You never know who is going to walk through our doors. It’s really neat to see young kids connect and interact with older adults.”


The physical aspect of health is no doubt a focus of the YMCA of the Fox Cities. The state-of-the-art fitness center provides physical fitness for all levels and ages. Youth sports programs can begin as early as 4 years old, and encompass core sports: flag football, basketball, indoor soccer, track and field, volleyball, as well as lesser available offerings in our community like fencing, “Jedi training,” rugby, archery and more.

While it’s an impressive list in itself, Scott explains that there’s an added component to the program that incorporates all three of the aspects of health that the Y focuses on: spirit, mind and body not readily found in other clubs.

“We do value talks and huddles in all of our youth sports. One team or both teams talk about our core values – caring, honesty, respect, responsibility and what it means to them in school or within the game. It makes them think about the sport but also their experience overall. Winning and losing is only a small part of what sports are.

“What we’re finding is that club sports and competitiveness is forcing some kids out of sports because they’re not as engaged,” he adds. “We want them to have fun. We want to teach them to compete against themselves, to learn new skills and to understand that failing isn’t fatal. We want to give sports back to the kids.”

The Y approaches sports and all aspects of health with the belief that while promoting skills and lessons within the program, the bigger picture includes volunteer coaches and staff teaching life lessons in a natural and organic way that’s easy to understand: fun.

“If kids aren’t having fun, they’re not putting in effort or getting better,” Scott explains. “Having fun means more easily developing skills. If you come to the Y and participate in youth sports, you’re getting the benefit of developing as an athlete but so much more.”

Meet some of the YMCA of the Fox Cities family!

Bill Breider

President/CEO, YMCA of the Fox Cities

“The YMCA of the Fox Cities is a mission-driven organization bringing people together from all walks of life and at all stages of life, around a common and inclusive set of values by providing programs, services and facilities that improve spirit, mind and body. Our purpose is to strengthen the foundation of our community by providing opportunities for everyone to reach their highest potential in all areas of health.”

Maeghan Johnson

Arts and Humanities Director, Neenah-Menasha

“I love the sense that I’m connecting with people and making a difference. And they’re giving to me too. I love interacting with our members and my co-workers. We have a sense of family. There’s something for every age, every family — every internal need.”

Kourtney Kositzke

Arts and Humanities Coordinator, Appleton

“I really like being able to bring my creativity to different programs and see children grow and flourish. Knowing that a child went home better from just meeting with me and knowing I made an impact is huge. Our art program has grown into so much more. It has been really rewarding.”

Scott Schanhofer

Executive Director, Neenah-Menasha

“One of the unique things about the Y is that it’s a community organization. We attract many different people to our facility. Visitors always say we’re a very warm place, welcoming and friendly. And that’s important to us. Coming to the Y is a great way to start your day. People care. Impact isn’t necessarily changing someone’s life, it can be as simple as putting a smile on someone’s face.”

Joel Zeiner

YMCA of the Fox Cities Mission Emphasis Committee Member

“Physically you can be strong, but if you don’t spend time on spiritual health and trying to connect with God you’re going to miss a really important, joyful and life-giving part of your experience. We want everybody at the Y, no matter their religious background, no matter their lifestyle. This is a place where the community gathers. And they’re connecting in meaningful ways.” 

“You can thrive at any age”

The YMCA of the Fox Cities offers a wide range of ways focusing on spirit, mind and body health to prove that you can be happy and healthy – and active! – at any age. Their Active Older Adults (AOA) program offers activities such as:

  • Land and water exercise classes
  • Health screenings
  • Use of workout equipment/walking track/pools
  • Yoga/Pilates/Tai chi/Qui gong
  • Enrichment Classes: Language/computer/music
  • Clubs: Knitting/Book/Chorus
  • Social events/luncheons

The YMCA of the Fox Cities collaborates with the Menasha Senior Center and the Thompson Community Center to provide the above programs. For more information, visit

For more information and to discover how you can get involved in your nearest YMCA of the Fox Cities location, visit or contact:

Apple Creek YMCA

2851 East Apple Creek Road, Appleton • 920-733-9622

Appleton YMCA

218 East Lawrence Street, Appleton • 920-739-6135

Fox West YMCA

W6931 School Road, Greenville • 920-757-9820

Heart of the Valley YMCA

225 West Kennedy Avenue, Kimberly • 920-830-5700

Neenah-Menasha YMCA

110 West North Water Street, Neenah • 920-729-9622

Variety is the spice of life. It feels good to have choices and when you find the right fit, nothing is better. Differences in products, amenities and overall services are what makes up any industry, and health care is no different. Providers vary in their philosophies and treatment plans, along with patients’ ideals and priorities.

Seemingly endless options abound, making the right decision regarding your well-being sometimes overwhelming and intimidating. One thing remains the same, though, and that is wanting to feel appreciated and cared for.

Orthopedic & Spine Therapy gets it. 

Owner Steve Barnett opened the first clinic (it has expanded to 19!) in 1990 with the mission to create a business model that encompasses both high quality care and the kind of environment that makes everyone comfortable — from staff members to patients. 

In celebration of their 27th anniversary on September 4, Orthopedic & Spine Therapy shares their approach to what sets them apart in both values and daily operations as an exceptional choice in physical therapy in the local community:

One-on-one attention, continuity of care and communication

At Orthopedic & Spine Therapy, patients receive the hands-on (literally!) attention they deserve by being the only patient in a session. 

“We see one patient at a time and we’re with them that whole time, we don’t scuttle between rooms, between patients. It’s also important for us to keep the same therapist throughout their therapy,” Steve says. “We find by doing that there’s a greater continuity of care, which will then ideally be a shorter term of care for patients. And in today’s care that means less dollars out of their pocket.” 

“The therapist knows you and knows your condition. You get undivided attention,” Sami Barnett, Marketing and Communications Coordinator, adds.

And that courtesy and care isn’t limited to your one-on-one session.

“My cell phone number is on my card,” Steve says. “It’s easy for patients to call or text me at any point in time. I’ll answer any questions because I want them to recognize that I’m there to help them. Just like they have “a doctor” or “a dentist,” we want to be their physical therapists.” 

Manual physical therapy

Manual physical therapy at Orthopedic & Spine Therapy is a technique that utilizes a therapist’s hands for the treatment process as opposed to modalities like therapeutic ultrasound or hot packs (although these tools are available if a particular case calls for them).

“We feel we get better results when we use our manual therapy skills we have developed in our continuing education courses,” Steve explains. “It’s a mindset, it’s our culture.”

Continuing education

Orthopedic & Spine Therapy believes in building upon education to expand knowledge that benefits therapists, and thus their patients. Dry needling, pelvic health, cranial and TMJ issues are a few of the specialized topics the therapists are continuing to learn about to improve skills and treatment techniques on a regular basis.

“As therapists, we only get to learn so much in school in terms of how to evaluate and treat a patient,” Steve explains. “Every year our therapists go to courses to expand their evaluation and treatment knowledge. My feeling is the bigger the toolbox we can carry with us to treat our patients, the more opportunities there are for them to get better.”

“If there’s something the therapists are interested in — like pelvic health or pediatric health — and they find a course, they’re able to do that,” Sami adds. “We bring in courses and even open it up to therapists from other clinics.”

In-house billing and customer service

Ease and accessibility is important to Orthopedic & Spine Therapy, and that includes in-house billing and customer service within one office. If a patient has any questions or concerns, it’s easy for them to speak with a representative they know and are familiar with.

“If a patient has questions or payment information, they know they’re talking to Katy, for example, because they’ve come to know her,” Sami says. “It’s a part of their experience at Orthopedic & Spine Therapy — part of their treatment and health journey.” 

It’s not just the team’s approach to making the technical process of working with Orthopedic & Spine Therapy that catapults them to a higher level of care, but also the attention to detail to let patients know they’re valued and appreciated.

“We’re in tune with customer service and like to do things we’re drawn to ourselves,” Sami says. “Things like handwritten thank you cards and taking the time to do it right.” 

Quick appointment turnaround and ease of scheduling

“Our goal is to always get people in within 24 hours of the referral or when it’s most convenient for that patient,” Steve says. “We want to reduce and alleviate their pain as fast as possible.”

Therapist specialties 

Dry needling, or Intramuscular Manual Therapy, uses a dry needle without any medication to release the negative effects of trigger points, thus relieving pain and improving musculoskeletal function. Orthopedic & Spine Therapy was the first group to bring the technique to Northeast Wisconsin, and it remains a well-known specialty among the group.

“When I became certified in dry needling and realized the benefit that I was achieving with my patients, I knew that we needed to bring this course internally so the other therapists could learn it as well,” Steve explains. “It’s a great tool in the toolbox, and patients are now aware of it and recognize that we were the first to adopt the practice. It’s still in its infancy in other practices but all of our locations offer this treatment.”

Pelvic health for both men and women is also amongst the specialties offered at each clinic, and includes focus on bowel or bladder dysfunction, post-pelvic abdominal surgery, pain and care for issues during or after pregnancy. 

A holistic approach, treating the whole body

Orthopedic & Spine Therapy is known for providing “physical therapy from head to toe” and they mean it quite literally. They hold a holistic view of health and recognize that pain expressed in a part of the body may not necessarily originate in the same area. Their goal is to always find the underlying cause of discomfort to accurately treat the problem. So, while you may come in for back pain, and your therapist will take that into account, they’ll consider your whole body to develop a treatment.

“We don’t want to focus on the pain and the area of pain necessarily because that might not be the cause of their issues,” Steve explains. “It’s a matter of evaluating the whole body and finding the areas of greatest restriction and treating those areas.

“For instance, we look for things like asymmetry, range of motion difficulties, texture abnormalities. If we see these restrictions, we’re going to treat them no matter where they are in the body. We want the whole system to be efficient and work functionally.”

The mission and customer service approach to Orthopedic & Spine Therapy encompass many facets, but to Steve, Sami and the team, it truly boils down to a simple truth:

“We have the attitude that we treat others the way we ourselves would want to be treated. It’s a cornerstone of our values,” Steve says. 

“We will be partners with you to provide superior physical therapy solutions to enhance your quality of life.”

A Time for Change Health and Wellness Fair

Coming soon: Saturday, October 14!

Orthopedic & Spine Therapy presents “A Time for Change,” a health and wellness fair for all on Saturday, October 14 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

The fair’s message, that there’s always time for change, whether that involves healthy eating, exercise, mental and emotional well-being, self-care, etc., is brought to life with 35 vendors and field experts offering their advice and knowledge, like free blood pressure monitoring by Fox Valley Technical College.

“We wanted to have a health fair for the public, for people who are at any health level,” Sami explains. “People who are into fitness, people who love yoga and natural products but also people who might be beginners and not know how to begin, or have little knowledge. It’s for everybody. The time for change can be now.” 

  • When: Saturday, October 14 • 10 a.m.-3 p.m.
  • Where: The Early Learning Center, 313 S. State Street, Appleton (Across from St. Mary Church with ample parking available.)
  • Who: Everyone is welcome and admission is free! Monetary donations accepted for St. Joseph’s Food Pantry, and Orthopedic & Spine Therapy will match collections! 

For more information, visit

The “WOW Philosophy” 

Steve and the team of physical therapists and staff that make up Orthopedic & Spine Therapy are serious about treating their patients the way they would want to be treated, and they do so in a variety of ways. Outrageous customer service, education and results are what drive the “WOW Philosophy” they believe in and adhere to.

Services Offered

  • Physical Therapy: Our physical therapists use a variety of techniques to treat a variety of conditions to help assist in the process of healing and recovering.
  • Pelvic Physical Therapy: A safe, highly effective, discreet, drug-free way to treat a variety of women’s and men’s pelvic health conditions.
  • Workplace Solutions: We provide superior workplace solutions to enhance your quality of business and get our Workers Compensation patients back to work safely and quickly. We are trained and licensed by nationally recognized return-to-work programs.
  • Massage Therapy: A form of holistic therapy, which is a natural way to help your body heal itself with invigorating massage and reflexology.

Convenient locations near you!

Orthopedic & Spine Therapy has 18 clinics throughout Northwest and Northeast Wisconsin — and has recently opened a location in Minnesota! — to treat all musculoskeletal conditions. No matter where you’re located, there are exceptional physical therapists nearby to help with any pain or frustration you may be experiencing. 

Visit to find the location and contact information for the clinic nearest you.

Parenthood is a community, a tribe that unites its members like no other. Having children and all associated with it — the stresses, the joys and even the fears — connect mothers and fathers with their peers in a way that’s natural and often unspoken. What is clear, though, is the kind of reassurance often felt when one interacts with a fellow parent who has also experienced a particular issue or has had a similar concern regarding their children’s well-being.

It’s no different with doctors. The board-certified dermatologists of Forefront Dermatology are held in high esteem in their industry in every aspect of their careers; however, they’re humans too. Several are parents, and that means they too have had questions about their children’s health and safety.

They understand.

Empathizing with patients as parents

Forefront Dermatology currently has 36 locations throughout Wisconsin where they expertly address a wide spectrum of conditions and concerns, including acne, eczema, rashes, warts, psoriasis and rosacea, along with cosmetic treatments.

They’ve also become an industry expert on treating basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma and less common skin cancers through a highly specialized procedure called Mohs micrographic surgery. The level of medical care and technique is unmatched, and it’s also complemented by their dedication to providing patients with compassionate care, education and personalized treatments throughout a patient’s journey.

With this awareness in mind, it can be easy to categorize your Forefront dermatologist as simply a medical figure. We forget that they’re community members, neighbors, pet owners and parents. They’re just like us!

Dr. Peter Katz and his wife, Murissa, have three children: William (12), Dane (10) and Livian (8). And as any parent can attest, their children differ in personality and development. What Dr. Katz recognizes as both a board-certified dermatologist and a father is that their skin is vastly diverse as well.

“Dane has had the most skin issues,” he explains. “He was born with a rare congenital skin tumor called mastocytoma… he has eczema and has had a lot of medication reactions. He’s also had scarlet fever three times — he’s kept me on my toes! And when I do see patients with the same issues, I can give them some idea of what to expect on a day-to-day basis and not just what’s in the textbook.”

Dr. Susan Keiler and her husband, David Johnson, parents of 11-week-old daughter, Kathleen, know that skin care and its significance are already prominent even at this early stage of parenthood, bringing with it an overall cognizance of what might be going through her fellow parent patients’ minds.

“Kathleen has already had a few skin issues arise since she has been born,” Dr. Keiler says. “As a pediatric dermatologist, I felt added pressure to get her diaper rash and acne under control quickly. In this short time, I have realized it can be very hard to be patient when you are treating your own child. You (and family members) want them to get better overnight but that is sometimes not realistic.”

Dr. Christopher Burnett and his wife, Mary, are the parents of three daughters: Sophia (7), Clara (4) and Lillian (10 months). Dr. Burnett identifies that being prepared with a plan and providing a strategy can go a long way with children and their parents when it comes to providing the highest level of care.

“A treatment plan and oftentimes simple reassurance can make a big difference in your child’s skin health,” Dr. Burnett says. “Don’t hesitate to seek an evaluation by a board-certified dermatologist for any skin concerns in your child.”

Sometimes the uncertainties can feel overwhelming, and Drs. Katz, Keiler and Burnett recognize that in this day and age the internet and “what ifs” don’t help alleviate those anxieties. It’s perfectly normal to worry — they do it too.

“A lot of the time I see parents come in and they go to the worst case scenario right away,” Dr. Katz says. “And we understand that. As a parent and a doctor, I find myself doing that same thing. But we also have a base of knowledge to know if something is very rare or how likely or unlikely those things are.”

Creating a partnership in your child’s skin health journey

Consistency is key.

It’s a phrase we’ve heard time and time again, and applies to almost every facet of life. If you want to make something a habit, you must be constant in your approach. When it comes to sun protection, the dermatologists at Forefront Dermatology believe nothing is truer or more significant in terms of long-term well-being — and that begins in infancy.

While outside with your newborn, Dr. Keiler recommends protective hats and tight woven clothing, and limited sun exposure during peak intensity hours (from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.). For infants older than 6 months, she urges regular use of sunscreen with a sun protection factor of at least 30, containing the ingredients zinc oxide and/or titanium dioxide, which are less irritating to the skin.

“Sun avoidance alone is advised in infants younger than 6 months of age due to the greater risk of absorption of the chemicals in sunscreen and lack of safety testing of sunscreens in this age group,” she says. “(At a young age) the best thing you can do for your child’s skin health is to practice very good sun protection. It is important to use sun protective clothing starting at birth (surf guards, hats) and use sunscreen. Glitter sunscreen — sold at our Manitowoc and Sheboygan Falls offices — can make putting on sunscreen fun for children age 2-10.”

“My biggest advice is teaching kids to make protecting yourself from the sun a way of life, a routine,” Dr. Katz says. “Don’t make it a once in a while thing. My kids know that before they go outside to go swimming, they need their sunscreen and swim shirt on. It’s engrained in their heads and it’s just what they do.”

“My four-year old knows the importance of using sunscreen to prevent sunburn,” Dr. Burnett adds. “We’ve been able to educate my seven-year old on the importance of using sunscreen to prevent skin cancer. We hope that the habits we are encouraging now will result in lifelong sun safety practices.”

As children grow and evolve, so does their skin and the potential for hormones and aging to bring conditions like acne.

Whether it’s discomfort that is often associated with acne in young adults, or perhaps an unfamiliarity with how a particular skin type or condition looks, children being exposed to differences requires support. The dermatologists at Forefront Dermatology are the ideal team to help maintain your child’s skin health, and also encourage you to get involved to partner in the effort — both from an emotional and dermatologic standpoint.

“As a pediatric dermatologist, I recommend parents talk to their children early about their birthmark or skin condition and not discuss it in a negative way,” Dr. Keiler says. “I have parents refer to birthmarks as beauty marks. Usually young children (4-6 years of age) are more curious as they start seeing differences between their skin and the skin of their peers.

“There is also a summer camp for children who are struggling socially with their skin condition (Camp Discovery and Camp Horizon). These camps allow children to interact with other children with similar conditions in a nonthreatening safe environment.”

“Skin issues can be difficult socially, especially in the case of common conditions like acne and eczema,” Dr. Burnett explains. “It’s important for parents and kids to know that help is available in the form of a good, personalized treatment plan.”

Strategies for parents to help their children stay consistent in their skin health routines include keeping the ointment or cream on your child’s nightstand or moisturizer near their towels in the bathroom. That way, the dermatologists say, a conscious decision to not use the products has to be made rather than to use the excuse that it was forgotten.

Text reminders and alerts on phones are another measure they suggest to ensure children stay consistent whether taking medication or applying topical treatments.

“It’s also important to drive home the point that a lot of treatments we give for a lot of conditions are not for the acne you have now, for example, but it’s to be used steadily for weeks,” Dr. Katz explains. “Your consistency now is going to pay off later.” 

“Kids don’t understand that what they’re doing now makes a difference down the road,” Dr. Katz says. “They’ll feel a sunburn but then five days later forget about it. They don’t realize that it leads to skin cancer and other problems.”

For more information about Forefront Dermatology and to find a location near you, visit or call 855-535-7175.

There are few things that conjure up a universally pleasant response; thus, they get all the glory. It’s easy when the object can be used in virtually any and every capacity: as a sweet and savory food product, an herb, a popular essential oil, a simple yet satisfying scent, a charming piece of décor, a calming agent, and so much more. It begs the question, “Is it possible to have too much of a good thing?”

Not when it comes to lavender.

It’s something Scott Sonoc and his wife Marsha Williams know firsthand. The owners of Island Lavender Company, they planted the first commercial lavender fields on Washington Island on the newly renovated Historic Island Dairy property in the spring of 2013 and haven’t looked back since.

Situated five miles from the tip of the peninsula of Door County, the Island Lavender Company is a working lavender farm specializing in the cultivation of hearty organic lavender plants to be used to make the highest grade lavender products.

Scott explains that the Island Lavender Company farm has been designed to blend in with the existing character of Washington Island’s Scandinavian heritage promoting agricultural entrepreneurship, specifically celebrating lavender grown in the United States. The property includes a hand built, carved Viking Temple featuring birds, snakes and nature. The lavender market is housed in the restored 100-year-old Historic Island Dairy, a special island location featuring an exhibit of the dairy when it operated from 1917 to 1960.

And this year, they’ve expanded their beloved store to include a location in mainland Ephraim, Door County.

“It came primarily because of customers’ demand,” Marsha explains. “We discovered a fantastic building in North Ephraim that really enables us to show both the wide array of products we have as well as an entire exhibit area devoted to explaining how we process lavender.”

Located on the north edge of Ephraim in the historic big red barn just before entering into Sister Bay on Highway 42, Island Lavender Company’s additional locale allows Scott and Marsha to share their love of lavender and all it is capable of within their array of products and also in the form of graphics, exhibits and educational material — including lavender recipes for guests to try at home.

An extraordinary commitment to quality

The natural growing and harvesting procedure is one that Island Lavender Company takes seriously and procures products of the highest quality, becoming the standard for superiority due to each step in their process being so thoughtfully and diligently executed.

“We do everything by hand,” Scott says. “From the planting to the trimming to the harvesting.”

Lavender bundles are harvested by hand with a sickle, and dried in a barn while buds are stripped and separated from the stems in a custom-designed machine. Dried lavender buds go through the filtering process two to three times to ensure grit is removed, while lavender buds headed for culinary purposes are sifted more than five times and sent to a specially engineered stainless steel still to produce the highest quality food grade lavender essential oil.

It’s all based on the philosophy that excellence is reached when time and attention is paid to make it so; however, there’s something notably lacking in Island Lavender Company’s method: chemicals, pesticides and unnecessary additions during the growing process. Island Lavender Company is a completely natural lavender farm.

“We have an opportunity to focus on the need to protect the environment on various levels,” Scott says. “We don’t use pesticides or any kind of artificial fertilizers. Rainwater and sunshine is it. We work with the environment instead of against it.”

They’re natural components found typically in summer in Wisconsin, and lavender cultivation works exceptionally well in the area in all four of its diverse seasons. Hibernating in the winter, lavender begins growing in spring and flowers in mid-July. There are a number of variations, of which Island Lavender Company grows 16, primarily Lavandula Angustifolia, or English Lavender.

“We get so many comments from people who walk in our doors and just take a deep breath and say, ‘Oh I feel relaxed just being here,’” Marsha laughs. “It’s kind of a path of discovery. We’ve got information panels about lavender and how we process lavender throughout the whole store. People wander and they read the information panels and are able to get a good sense about what the lavender business entails.”

Island Lavender Company’s products are handmade in Wisconsin, with a number of them being done in-house by Scott, Marsha and their team. Travel pillows, neck wraps and salves are among some of the hundreds of products handmade and hand labeled.

“Our soaps, lotions and our body mists and room sprays are extremely popular,” Marsha says. “In fact, we offer free shipping to every state in the union — all over the United States. But it’s also nice to pop in and pick something up, and we always offer free food samples!”

The versatility and array of products — both edible and not for consumption — vary greatly; however, Scott and Marsha make it their task to keep one thing in mind for all of them.

“We try to primarily deal with small family-owned businesses,” Marsha explains. “It’s really quite fun, we have cultivated wonderful relationships with various suppliers to whom we supply our own lavender culinary oil and then they use that in making the products. Our food products are all made by professional food manufacturers and they use our lavender.

“The chocolates are really amazing. We have a wonderful chocolate supplier based in Port Washington. He’s really an artist who uses a very high quality cocoa. We have great lavender granola that’s made here in Door County: Lavender Cherry Granola, Lavender Blueberry Granola, Lavender Vanilla Granola and Lavender Dark Chocolate Granola.”

Everything from lavender gelato, lavender infused coffee and teas in a number of varieties like Lavender Crème Brulee, Lavender Grogg and Lavender Chocolate Mint, as well as jams and jellies perfect for the flavor — sweet but also herbal — are available and perhaps make up more of the traditional side of Island Lavender Company’s selection. Lavender seasoned salt and Lavender Balsamic Vinegar from Italy are a couple that Marsha says are very special.

“Lavender Caramel Corn is another one that people are excited about,” she says. “It’s really good and pairs amazingly well with a glass of red wine.

“I love asking customers about how they’re going to use our products. We meet a lot of fascinating people from all over the world. We’re very happy to be here, and we try and make sure people have fun.”

Celebrate with Island Lavender Company!

Join Island Lavender Company daily for the entire month of July to celebrate the Fourth Annual Island Lavender Blooming Festival

Featuring interactive and educational activities — all of which are free! — the Fourth Annual Island Lavender Blooming Festival is celebrated both at the Ephraim, Door County location and on Washington Island.

It’s an especially long festival, Scott explains, following the natural cycle of the lavender plant. Buds begin to bloom in the beginning of July and last through the entire month.

“It’s pretty to look at, fun to walk through and is really aromatic,” he says. “We are working in the lavender fields daily during the festival so you can have your questions answered about how to grow lavender, how lavender can be used in your daily activities and how we transform our lavender harvests.”

Focusing on and bringing attention and awareness to protecting the environment is also important to Island Lavender Company’s core mission, and that includes more than the growing of the versatile plant itself.

“Part of the whole cycle is the idea of pollination and bees,” Scott says. “We have an exhibit in Ephraim with a full size beehive showing how honey is gathered and produced. It really becomes an educational component throughout the month.”

During the festival guests are encouraged to interact with visiting artists who have also made it their artistic passion to protect the environment, the honey bee community and the wonder of lavender. Watch and converse with the artists as they discover the magic of the lavender fields in their compositions and artwork.

“One of the artists paints with beeswax,” Marsha explains. “She’ll be demonstrating her technique and selling her art. We have a jewelry maker joining us and a potter who creates lavender designs. We’re leaning toward the arts and expanding both the lavender focus, pollination and saving the bees.”

“All of our events are free, and there are no entrance or special activity fees at the Island Lavender Company because our goal is to heighten public awareness of the many outstanding qualities of this incredible plant,” Scott adds.

All activities are available daily in the month of July between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. at both the Ephraim and Washington Island locations. 

A happy, healthy environment for all

The Island Lavender Company is distinguished by being a working lavender farm cultivating healthy hearty lavender plants specifically for the very cold winter seasons of Northern Wisconsin. Scott and Marsha provide housing for many of their employees, as well as pay a minimum wage of $15.00 per hour.

“We have a commitment to quality — in how we treat our employees, our customers, the environment and how we make our products. We take it very seriously. It’s about the little details and we really try to get those right.” —Marsha Williams

Island Lavender Company

10432 Water Street, Ephraim


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It’s June, and as the famous lyrics say,

“School’s out for summer!”

But does education ever really end? The process of learning never stops …

There is limitless subject matter on the spectrum — after all, it is simply adding something new to our knowledge base, something we’ve not encountered before that constitutes learning. Sometimes we’re genuinely interested in topics, such as gardening or cooking from scratch. And then there are the issues that present themselves that we must study, sometimes suddenly, like learning how to use a smartphone or exploring financial planning in retirement.

Chances are that there is an academic course available for anything worth learning, and you can conveniently find them at accredited and accessible locations.

It’s Suzanne Lawrence’s purpose as Regional Director of Continuing Education for UW-Fond du Lac, UW-Fox Valley and UW-Manitowoc to bring a variety of programs to the area — practical or solely for enjoyment; credit or non-credit — for students of all ages.

“Continuing Education is diverse, both in terms of content and the age of the learner,” she explains. “We look at the individual as someone who wants to continue their education throughout their entire life. We work with students as young as kindergarten all the way up to senior citizens.”

“Learning is a treasure that will follow its owner everywhere.” —Chinese proverb

The University of Wisconsin Colleges system is comprised of 13 two-year colleges with UW-Fond du Lac, UW-Fox Valley and UW-Manitowoc making up the Northeast Region. Within each campus is a Continuing Education office whose primary goal is to bring the University’s resources to the community beyond those people who are degree-seeking students.

The UW system is known for its quality education and environment on its freshman and sophomore campuses, contributing to its students’ prominent level of achievement.

“The University of Wisconsin Colleges is a multi-campus institution whose focus is preparing students for success… by providing an accessible and affordable first two years of a liberal arts general education,” Dr. Martin Rudd, Regional Executive Officer and Dean for the Northeast Region of UW Colleges, explains.

“Recognizing that many of our students are bound by work, place, commitments and finance, we offer bachelor degrees that can be completed on our UW Colleges campuses with a variety of in person, online and distance education coursework,” he adds. “In particular, our small class sizes enable our faculty to deliver dynamic, impactful activities such as service learning, undergraduate research and internships, integrating skills in applied learning, reflection, and ‘learning with doing.’”

And although the completion of a traditional university education is a significant component in a student’s life, the area of Continuing Education expands the boundaries of the University, offering classes to individuals of all ages in a variety of topics.

Continuing Education is the umbrella over a variety of areas including Personal Enrichment, Professional Development, Travel Opportunities and Customized Training.

“Personal Enrichment generally includes topics in the arts, poetry, crafts, health and fitness, money or personal finance,” Suzanne explains. “Learning skills like gardening, photography, painting, even ballroom dancing are new skills that will bring joy and satisfaction to the participant. While Professional Development is designed for people who are looking to advance their skills or change careers.

“Customized Training is another area within Continuing Education where local businesses can reach out to community colleges for help with organizational challenges. Improving leadership, foreign language skills, written communication skills and science-related classes are just a few of the topics we’ve helped area businesses improve upon.”

“Travel is more than the seeing of sights; it is a change that goes on, deep and permanent, in the ideas of living.” —Miriam Beard

The Northeast Region Continuing Education office offers a variety of travel opportunities for all ages that encompass both learning and entertainment, and boast past international trips to Ireland and Spain and closer-to-home excursions to Milwaukee, Chicago and New York City.

Led by Susan Rabideau, UW-Fox Valley Associate Professor of Theatre and Communications and Bill Stachour, trip navigator, the New York City Theater Tour is one of the most popular choices.

“In five adventure-filled days, travelers to New York will experience three Broadway performances and spend four nights at a hotel conveniently located on Times Square.” Suzanne says. “This summer they’re seeing ‘Waitress,’ ‘Miss Saigon’ and ‘Hello, Dolly’ with Bette Midler. It’s a sell out trip every year!”

One-day food tasting tours of Milwaukee and Chicago are always popular and are quickly filled each semester. These tours expose participants to great food, history and culture.

Stay tuned! Suzanne is adding to the list of potential destinations all the time and is considering such locations as Washington D.C., the Pacific Coast and New Orleans as future trips available to the public.

“You don’t have to be affiliated or enrolled in college to participate. Anyone, any age, can go on these trips,” she says. “I think loyal travelers who have gone on every trip continue to join us because of their experience with the University. They find our trips well organized and a great value for the price.

“People don’t realize the gem they have in two-year colleges within our communities — we have so much to offer!” 

“People don’t realize the gem they have in two-year colleges within our communities — we have so much to offer!”

—Suzanne Lawrence, Regional Director of Continuing Education, Northeast Region

Destination: Florida Keys

Snorkel in the mangrove trees along the coastline

Explore a variety of species in the sea grasses

Swim with parrotfish, jellyfish and more in the coral reef!

Dr. Richard Hein (pictured to the right), an oceanographer and Associate Professor of Biological Sciences at UW-Manitowoc, is a firm believer in hands-on learning, and travels to Key Largo each year as a part of the Biology of the Florida Keys course to expose students to its benefits.

Stationed at the educational facility Marine Lab, whose mission is scientific research and education, students are immersed in labs and field work centering around ecology, marine ecosystems and discussions focusing on mangroves, sea grasses and coral reef. They even spend time at the local Turtle Hospital helping stranded sea turtles!

“The great thing is that it’s right on Key Largo and has access to the upper coral reefs and Florida Bay. The whole thing is based on the concept of, ‘Let’s talk about it in the classroom, but then immediately go see it,’” Dr. Hein explains. “It really resonates with people. It’s a great experience.”

LEAPS and College for Kids!

“Designed to provide fun, hands-on and active learning opportunities for highly motivated and talented students.”

Summer school takes on a whole new meaning and is elevated in UW Colleges Continuing Education’s “College for Kids” and “LEAPS” programs on the UW-Fond du Lac campus. The fun and educational programs are specifically designed to:

  • Increase interest and motivation in academics
  • Experience stimulating and challenging activities
  • Develop team-building skills through collaboration
  • And much more!

College for Kids (July 17-20)

For students entering grades 5-8, College for Kids offers a two-course a day option that includes classes centering on printmaking, drawing, archaeology and chemistry. The one all-day course choice is all about game making and writing computer code!

LEAPS (July 24-27)

Developed for younger students, LEAPS is geared toward students entering grades 2-4. Kids’ chemistry, paper sculpting, “cooking the continents,” sign language and the French language are among the class subjects combining education with hands-on learning fun.

“We have great faculty and it’s a wonderful opportunity for the kids to experience a college setting,” Suzanne says. “Summer programming is particularly important as statistics show that during the summer months, kids tend to lose knowledge and skills if they are not actively engaged in academic programming. University programs like these help mitigate the learning loss.”

Register by July 8 for College for Kids and Leaps! For more information and requirements, visit a href="/" target="_blank">, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call 920-929-1155.

UW Colleges Northeast Region Continuing Education offices:

UW-Fond du Lac

400 University Drive

Fond du Lac, 54935


UW-Fox Valley

1478 Midway Road

Menasha, 54952



705 Viebahn Street

Manitowoc, 54220


In Wisconsin, one of the most appreciated components of the spring season is “fresh air.” Opening our windows, seeing and feeling the sun shining, and the refreshing scent of the outdoors brings us back to life after a long winter.

In the beginning, the transformation is slow as trees and flowers begin to bud and grass starts to grow again. Before we know it, the vibrant greens and bright florals are back in full force — things are alive and well. And that means the season of lawn care and maintaining landscapes has begun too.

It’s an alluring image, but one that can quickly become clouded when considering the harmful chemicals and toxins associated with traditional lawn care practices. It’s not only detrimental to the grass in the long run, but also the health of our loved ones — both pets and people.

According to Dr. Phil Landrigan, professor of pediatrics at New York’s Mount Sinai Hospital, “there is... concern that pesticides of all kinds can damage the developing nervous system and can result in learning disabilities in children, behavioral problems and possibly chronic diseases like Parkinson’s.”

Troy Reissmann was made aware of the potential link between the chemicals and health complications while working for a conventional lawn care company. It didn’t take him long to reflect and realize he was going to change the course of his career, and life, for the better.

“I thought, ‘I don’t want to contribute to the problem for the rest of my life, I want to do something to help it. Where do I begin?’”

After researching how to organically and safely treat lawns, he and his wife Lisa established Valley Organics in 2009. The local business provides the area — from Green Bay to Fond du Lac — with natural and organic lawn care to achieve healthy and lush lawns without the toxic effects.


Traditional chemical-based care uses a regimen of harsh and toxic elements to treat lawns, and Troy and Lisa say it also creates an unhealthy cycle that is hard to break.

“The main weed control that’s used is one of the two active ingredients that was in Agent Orange. It’s called 2,4-Dichlorophenoxyacetic acid (2,4-D),” Troy explains. “It won’t kill the grass, but it will kill the majority of weeds. But in doing that, it also kills off a lot of new grass growth, which makes the lawn dependent on the chemicals.”

“Valley Organics is the opposite,” Lisa adds. “We want to make the lawn healthy and sustainable so eventually you can step down from treatments and simply maintain it to keep nutrients in the lawn. By then the root growth has gotten so much longer and it’s easy to sustain.”

They achieve this by providing all-natural fertilizing, core aeration, winterizing and special treatments like insect repellant by their one-of-a-kind tea.

Yes, tea.

“Intelli-tea” combines fertilizer, compost, worm castings, fish fertilizer and black strap molasses to create a concoction that adds live culture back into the lawn. After brewing for 24-48 hours, the tea is sprayed to feed the lawn with its lacking nutrients. Surpassing typical organic teas that have a 10 gallon to 100 gallon ratio of concentrate to water, Valley Organics prefers a much stronger concoction at 50 gallons of concentrate to 50 gallons of water to the lawn’s benefit.

“We found out through trial and error that we can actually get rid of a lot of lawn insects — not by killing them but by repelling them using garlic oil, peppermint oil and things that are too pungent for them,” Troy says. “It helps control the insect population and it’s also really beneficial for the lawn.”

In Valley Organics’ case, what’s safe for the lawn is safe for all of us — and that includes our two- and four-legged family members.

“We can tell people that what we’re putting on their lawn is safe and healthy, and won’t damage the environment, their animals or anything at all,” Troy says.

“We put a little flag out on the lawn saying that we were there,” Lisa says. “But it doesn’t say ‘Danger’ or ‘Keep Off.’ People ask us all the time if they can go on it, and yes you may. We don’t have to wear masks or boots when we apply the treatments. It’s not harmful!

“Canada and some states even have banned the chemicals,” she adds. “And more and more people are getting it every day,” Lisa says. “Our customer base is made up of a lot of pet owners, families with young children and now grandparents with grandkids who are understanding that it’s important.”


Just like every family member’s health and safety is important, Valley Organics realizes each and every lawn is unique, and determines their plan of action. A four-step plan beginning in spring and continuing through the summer is often the most popular choice for new customers, and most plan choices regularly include grass seed as part of the first and last treatments.

“A soil test helps us determine what’s going on in the soil to proceed going forward,” Lisa explains. “Then we do a granule treatment and that includes seeds, which right away helps thicken the lawn up.”

The soil test results — showing pH levels, identifying dry clay soil versus sandy soil, etc. — determine what the next three steps are. They could be a combination of granule or a liquid-based compost tea.

“In addition to our fertilizers we have different amendments like lime or gypsum to help with anything the lawn might need,” Lisa says. “It’s tailored to that specific lawn. And sometimes it’s different from the back lawn to the front.”

Educating the public about transitioning from conventional lawn care to natural and organic is important for Troy and Lisa, and they often spread the word about information ranging from the benefits of natural lawn care on the honey bee population to why dandelions are a positive sight and what they describe as simple science.

“Grass needs three things to live: oxygen, food and water,” Troy says. “Rain takes care of the water, oxygen is aerating and pulling up the soil, and the food is up to you. You can feed your lawn nothing at all, you can use chemicals which are not sustainable, or you can feed your lawn something healthy like what we use.”

“There is an alternative to the chemicals,” Lisa says. “You don’t have to use them to have a nice lawn. It may take a little longer organically, but it’s possible and it’s worth it.” 

Valley Organics believes aeration is one of the healthiest measures you can take for your lawn by allowing moisture and oxygen to enter into the root system, which is why

new customers receive a FREE aeration in fall!

Stay informed!

Troy and Lisa are often met with customers who struggle with allergies and effects of conventional lawn care chemicals, and encourage people to visit to sign a registry to become informed about when your neighboring lawns will be sprayed. According to the site, “The Landscape Registry allows Wisconsin residents to be notified before lawn care and landscape companies apply pesticides to neighboring property. You list the addresses that you want to be notified about, and companies check that list against their lists of clients.”

“It’s nice to know when to bring your dogs in, have your kids play inside and even hang laundry on the line,” Lisa says.

Valley Organics Lawn Care


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