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Prairie Springs and Paul Fleckenstein

Paul Fleckenstein was a steadfast supporter of environmental education and conservation programs. As the executive director of the RA Stevens Foundation and through his personal contributions, Fleckenstein supported organizations such as the Urban Ecology Center in Milwaukee, The Nature Conservancy — in particular their work at the Mukwonago Watershed — and the Wisconsin Flagship, the Denis Sullivan Schooner, now affiliated with Discovery World in Milwaukee. Fleckenstein graduated from UW-Milwaukee with a major in urban education.

Fleckenstein cherished his home in Genesee Depot, Wisconsin, just west of his native Brookfield, that he called Prairie Springs. He was dedicated to land restoration and was happiest when he was personally working to plant trees, remove invasive species, or care for his gardens.

In recognition of his Prairie Springs home, Fleckenstein’s charitable trust is named Prairie Springs: The Paul Fleckenstein Trust. Fleckenstein was the brother of Carolyn Scott, who earned a degree in therapeutic recreation from UWL in 1985. Scott’s husband, Jay Scott, earned a degree in recreation parks and administration from UWL in 1984. The Scotts are trustees of Prairie Springs: The Paul Fleckenstein Trust.

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Why is this very generous gift being given to UW-La Crosse?

The donation is being given for a number of reasons, says Carolyn Scott. One is the university’s outstanding students. “UW-La Crosse is attracting some of the brightest and most prepared students from our state and region,” she says.

Carolyn and her husband, Jay, also point to the university’s outstanding and caring faculty and staff. “The culture of quality instruction within a caring community of faculty and staff is key to a student’s success,” notes Jay.

The couple say the gift also thanks state taxpayers for their commitment to the new state-of-the-art facility. “This allows us to support, through an endowment fund, the significant investment the people of the state of Wisconsin have made in the new science labs building,” says Jay.

In addition to enhancing the state’s investment, Jay says it fulfills one of Fleckenstein’s dreams. “The gift allows us to fulfill one of the goals Paul identified within his trust, which was to have an impact on environmental education and conservation efforts throughout the State of Wisconsin,” he says.

Carolyn adds that the gift complements generous gifts already given to the UWL Foundation.

“We’re following the lead of others who have invested in experiential learning at UWL,” she explains. “In particular, we’re able to add to the wonderful challenge grant by Ron and Jane Rada that is generating more than $1 million to support experiential learning opportunities across the campus.”