Interview with Tom Kroeger, Original Park Manager
Tom Kroeger, Lakeshore State Park’s first park manager, has a wealth of insight and information about the park origin, growth and future. He credits strong stakeholder partnerships for the park’s development and success. With his background as a hydrologist and wetlands biologist specializing in Brownfield remediation, along with his passion for restoring urban wetlands, he was an ideal person to help take part in transforming Harbor Island into beautiful Lakeshore State Park.
To understand the park’s potential, Tom felt one needed to be surrounded by beauty, so he prioritized planting beautiful prairies at the north and south entrances of the park. And as he worked with community partners and created a calendar of educational programs, more people soon discovered the park
Tom particularly enjoyed creating programs for children through partnerships with the school districts. He often found that here students had their first experience with green space, wildlife and Lake Michigan. One of his favorite memories involved partnering with UW-Milwaukee art students as they created working “insect hotels.” The project received national attention, highlighting the students’ beautiful art and educating the public on the worldwide decline in insect populations.
Tom is happy to see that the partnerships and educational programs he helped develop continue to flourish and grow. He would love to see the originally planned Visitor and Education Center built and feels a sheltered gathering place with washroom facilities would enhance educational programming and add to the overall enjoyment of the park.
Tom is excited to see new plantings, birds, and wildlife every time he visits the park.
Busy working on his own garden and other commitments, he says he’s overdue for a visit and will have to ride his bike down to say ‘hi.”