Former art professor from the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, Richard Schneider, has donated his land that is valued at $100,000 to the Portage County Parks Department, a contribution to the area that may invoke community joy.
This land was called Woodtick Woods under Schneider’s ownership, but will now be open to residents and is also available to students at the Trainer Natural Resources building.
“You can guess why it’s called that, especially in the summertime,” Schneider said.
Schneider explained that the land will now become a part of Jordan Park that is located northeast of Highway 66. Jordan Park has the Plover River running through it and, with Schneider’s donation, will expand by an impressive 51 acres adding to the already 271 acres of land which includes 85 acres of Jordan Pond.
“I didn’t think of it in particular as a gift to students, though I was aware they would be using it,” Schneider said.
When evaluating his time as a professor at the University, Schneider recalled the social relationship he shared with the Department of Natural Resources. Although Schneider was an art professor, he spoke fondly of the broader campus community.
Schneider is also known for his work on the mural that is lain across the outside of the Trainer Natural Resources building.
“I don’t do things. I get people to do things for me,” Schneider said. As he recollected his experience working on the mural, Schneider recalled the monumental group effort that allowed for the mural to come into the position it is today. Schneider remembered traveling to the dormitories on campus to recruit students as volunteers for the project. At the time, community members were also crucial players with volunteering.
“You could have walked up and volunteered yourself. It was that simple,” Schneider said.
Schneider recalled this experience as his fondest memory at UWSP.
“Nothing can top the mural,” Schneider said.
Schneider’s elaborate background in pottery allowed for him to educate former Chancellor Lee S. Dreyfus in 1975 as to what type of material would work best for the 150 foot tall mural that remains today. The mural is atop a brick surface, and Schneider’s efforts involved accounting for temperature changes in regard to what artistic material would suit the wall’s environment best.
The mural was finished in 1982 and invoked a great community pride that is resemblant of its final motto, “E Pluribus Unum,” meaning, “From Many, One.” The use of this end quote was a reflection of the many people, the great amounts of time and the thousands of bricks that make up this one mural.
As with the mural, Schneider recalls his donation as something where, “circumstances just happened to drop into place.”
“I never imagined the land as a gift, but it just worked out. I’m delighted to be able to do it,” Schneider said.
Schneider recalled purchasing the land at a fairly cheap price, from a logger about forty years ago. Schneider mentioned that when he evaluated his taxes, he hadn’t expected his land to be worth so much.
“I was fortunate enough to purchase it at a relatively inexpensive time,” Schneider said.
When deciding what he wanted to do with his land, he considered his children. His son lives in Maryland, while his daughter, Lora, resides in Iola, Wisconsin. Observing little interest from his family in acquiring the land, he contemplated his options. His ultimate decision, was donating it to the Portage County Parks department.
First, Schneider consulted the North Central Conservancy Trust when approaching his donation. His daughter, Lora Hagen, played an important role when evaluating the limitations Woodtick Woods has. The North Central Conservancy Trust is a non-profit organization that was established to hold conservation easements on privately owned property, as well as to hold title on donated properties. For Schneider, this was important to address.
This means that mining, land development and agriculture will not be allowed on the property. The North Central Conservancy Trust’s mission starts with: “endeavor to protect, worthy scenic, working lands and environmental resources for the benefit of the people of Central Wisconsin.” (http://ncctwi.org/NCCT) This property is now part of that mission.
Schneider graciously concluded that he felt the land would impact the community in a positive way, a feeling he was happy to invoke in residents and students.