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Soil, Service, Roots

Mission Wisconsin’s founding story 

The story behind Mission Wisconsin is one of soil, of service and of roots. 

I grew up in a small farming town in Central Wisconsin, the fifth generation of a long line of dairy farmers, land stewards and hard workers. My goal was to take over the family farm, but I also knew I needed to live a little, so I tried college for a hot minute. But higher learning wasn’t for me. I was a kid who needed structure and discipline, and I did what many farm kids do and looked to the military. 

Now, if I was going to do it, I was going to be the best, and I enlisted in the Marines and went into field artillery. There, with my brothers and sisters, I learned the true meaning of service and sacrifice, and while I didn’t know it at the time, that knowledge and connection would carry me forward and form the basis of Mission Wisconsin. 

After leaving the Marines, I came back to the family farm, but economics are not in the favor of small family farms, so I transitioned from physically shoveling manure to verbally shoveling it in government service and politics. I had the good fortunate to secure a position, through the Wisconsin Department of Veterans Affairs (WDVA), under former Secretary Dan Zimmerman, helping veterans as a statewide field representative. It was there that I realized my beloved state, the Great State of Wisconsin, has so much to offer veterans and their families, and it would be a travesty not to share it with the rest of the world. 

From WDVA, I transitioned to Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation. Here, I had the privilege of building a globally recognized talent attraction program for veterans with other state agencies. I traveled the world, visiting with servicemen and women and their families on bases, making connections and sharing the gospel of the Great State of Wisconsin. 

But government will government, and with a new administration and a global pandemic, funding for the program stopped in 2020. But I had met with 15,000 transitioning service members and their families over the 20 months that the program was going, and I promised those service members and their families that the Great State of Wisconsin would be there for them, just as it has since 1848. 

With that promise and commitment to service, Mission Wisconsin was born in July 2020. 

Coming in two weeks: What sets Mission Wisconsin apart