By Kris Leonhardt
MARSHFIELD — Recruitment for the inaugural Leadership Marshfield class occurred in the summer of 1992. With the program in its infancy, recruits held little knowledge of what was in store for them or what their position in the program might look like.
“I had Real Pizza from 1978 on, and maybe I was isolated,” said Carol Berg-Kappel. “This was the first class, and I don’t think anybody knew what it was because it was the first. I can remember going in there, and I thought, ‘My goodness, do I fit into this group because I am just this little business owner, and so many of these people were from bigger businesses?’”
With a little prompting from fellow Leadership Marshfield classmate and mentor Bette Adler, Berg-Kappel signed up for the program.
Berg and Adler were placed in a community project group with Mark Stevens, then vice president of Time Federal Savings Bank; Ron Shrout of Louie’s Refrigeration Service; and Barb Johnson with Marshfield Clinic.
The group eventually settled on a recycling project as everyone had a passion for environmental issues in central Wisconsin. The goal was to raise awareness on the environment and educate the community on recycling, which had not yet been mandated.
Using the media, the group began to spread awareness through newspaper content, a radio talk show visit, and producing a video through local public access television.
The affectionately named “Blue Tub Club” project group worked closely with local sanitation company Valley Sanitation, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, the city of Marshfield, the University of Wisconsin-Marshfield/Wood County, and the Northwest Recycling Board to lay the foundation for the Marshfield recycling program as well as the utilization of the blue recycling tubs that are still used today.
“(Back then) you had to divide everything,” explained Berg-Kappel. “Today it is comingled. You had to divide white glass from green glass from brown glass back in the day.”
By just the sight of a blue recycling tub, Berg-Kappel is reminded of how her Leadership Marshfield project group has benefited the community. She takes pride in what the recycling program does for her children’s and grandchildren’s future and is never more aware of this than when she works her five-hour day as custodian at Marshfield Middle School.
“I think of that every day from 1993 until I closed the store in 2008,” added Berg-Kappel. “We are still using the blue tubs directly.
“At school, do you know how many blue tubs I empty in a day? At least 20-some. A happy day at school is when I can take out more recycling than garbage.”