Welcome Ali Woodruff to Sweet Water!

Ali Headshot.jpg

We have a new Adopt-A-Drain coordinator here at Sweet Water! Ali joined the team in September and will be here through next August. This week, Ali answered some questions about herself and about AmeriCorps.

Where are you from?

I am from Oconomowoc, Wisconsin, which is about 30 miles west of Milwaukee, but for the last four years I was living in Oshkosh, Wisconsin where I earned my B.S. in Environmental Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh.

What in particular are you doing at Sweet Water?

After college I decided that I wanted to serve with AmeriCorps for one year because many of my professors and mentors had done the same. Thankfully, I came across the AmeriCorps position at Sweet Water and I was able to land the position! Throughout my service year, I will be focusing on building on our Adopt-A- Storm Drain program. We’re hoping to increase the program’s capacity and to get as many drains adopted as possible!

What exactly is AmeriCorps?

AmeriCorps is a voluntary civil society program that is supported by the federal government, as well as many businesses and corporations. The goal of AmeriCorps is to help communities meet critical needs. In this case, I am serving at Sweet Water to help local communities in their progress toward meeting specific water quality standards.

How did you become interested in Environmental Issues?

I originally went to school hoping to major in Psychology, but after my first semester I decided that I wanted to explore my options before I settled on a major. I enrolled in Environmental Studies 101 as one of my electives, and I quickly grew a passion for our environment. I had never learned about many of the environmental issues we were facing, so it was a completely new territory for me and I was so eager to learn more! I switched my major to Environmental Studies and I couldn't be happier about my decision!

What do you like to do in your free time?

I am a big outdoors person and love camping, hiking, kayaking, and swimming. I love exploring new places and learning about different cultures, which is why I have a huge passion for traveling. I also love to cook, and I love experimenting with new foods and flavors!

What would you like to do when your service year with the AmeriCorps is done?

I am not entirely sure on what I would like to do after this year is over. I know that this year will bring me a lot of new opportunities that I haven’t even thought about yet, so I am just seeing where this next year brings for me before I make any serious decisions. I would love to stay in Milwaukee and work full-time in the environmental field, but I am keeping my options open!

Welcome Kristin Schoenecker to Sweet Water!


We have a new program assistant here at Sweet Water! Kristin joined the team in August and will be here through next July. This week, Kristin answered some questions about herself and about Lutheran Volunteer Corps.

Where are you from?
Kristin Schoenecker: I’m from Edwardsville, Illinois, which is about a 20 minute drive from St. Louis, Missouri, but I spent the last four years in Rock Island, Illinois, where I earned my B.A. in Geography at Augustana College.

How did you end up in Wisconsin?
KS: My time here in Milwaukee and at Sweet Water was organized by Lutheran Volunteer Corps, or LVC. LVC sends volunteers to different cities around the country to live together in intentional community for a year and serve with local nonprofits. I am living with six other volunteers who have been placed in a variety of locations around the Milwaukee area at organizations such as Sojourner Family Peace Center and Victory Garden Initiative. At its core, an LVC year is an opportunity to learn how to live simply and sustainably and with a mind for social justice and inclusion.

What in particular are you doing at Sweet Water?
KS: I will be a program assistant for many of the various projects that Sweet Water organizes. Just a few of the things I’ll be helping out with are event planning for Sweet Water’s annual Clean Rivers, Clean Lake Conference, communications and outreach for the Respect Our Waters Campaign and the Watershed Watch Newsletter, and research for a project that studies the effects of leaf litter and disposal on phosphorus levels in our watershed.

Have you always been interested in water studies and management?
KS: Although I lived right next to the largest and one of the most altered and managed rivers in the US my whole life, I never really gave water or the Mississippi much thought until I began studying it in college. I took a Water Resources and Management class in which we took a boat out on the Mississippi several times as our “floating classroom”, and my love for studying water began there. In that class we worked on a project in Clinton, IA where we did an educational campaign to inform citizens about how improper stormwater disposal connections were contributing to combined sewer overflows into the Mississippi River. The real-world project opened my eyes to the importance of sustainable water management, and I’m really excited to learn about water management as it pertains to the Great Lakes as I work with Sweet Water.

What do you like to do in your free time?
KS: In my free time you still can’t get me away from the water! I’ve been a competitive swimmer for most of my life, continuing through college, and I still try to swim or otherwise do athletic activities when I have time. I especially like outdoor activities such as hiking and kayaking.

Do you have plans for the years after your LVC year is over?
KS: While I’m not completely sure where I’ll be for the next five years, I’ve wanted to be a geography professor for a long time, so in the next few years I’ll probably end up back in school to get my masters and eventually my PhD!