Interview with Michelle Muetzel, 12/01/2016

UW Oshkosh Campus Stories
Amelia Gonzales, Interviewer | uwocs_Michelle_Muetizel_12012016.mp3
Campus Stories Oral History Project (UWO Audio Series 51) |

0:00

AG: Alright the date is Thursday December 1, 2016. The time now is 11:25. This interview is being conducted in the Environmental Research and Innovation Center. My name is Amelia Gonzales and I will be interviewing Michelle Bogden Muetzel. I have the Deed of Gifts which I shall present to Ms. Bogden Muetzel after this interview is complete, so let us begin. So tell me a little about where you grew up.

MBM: Sure. I grew up in really rural small town Wisconsin, right next to the Illinois border. So, a small town called Broadhead.

AG: Broadhead?

MBM: Yeah. It is really South Central Wisconsin. So it's actually, where Half Way Tree is. That the Native Americans used to determine the halfway point, between the Lake Michigan and the Mississippi.

AG: Oh really?

MBM: Yep, Yep. So, it's like dead center in the middle of the state. Ten minutes North of Illinois.

1:00

AG: Oh, okay. Okay, so what types of work did people in your neighborhood do? If you remember.

MBM: Sure, so a lot of the people if they were in that town, I mean there's farming, obviously on the outskirts of that town. There was a lot of rolling farm land. But people, commonly would went into outlying towns like Monroe and Janesville and Madison. There were a lot of factory jobs that people would go to, there was Stoughtton trailers.

AG: Okay.

MBM: That's there so there was a lot of people that yeah went into that kind of….

AG: That kind of field?

MBM: Yeah.

AG: Alright, so what kind of work did your parents do?

MBM: Well my mom was a teacher in Beloit, Wisconsin and my dad opened up a video store

AG: A video store?

MBM: Yep, the only one in the small town, the first one so it was pretty exciting.

AG: Okay, so the people that you grew up with typically go to college, like friends?

2:00

MBM: Yeah for the most part, I mean if they, actually, in my class, especially, had like poor rated people graduating from high school so we had 120 people in my class, and less than 100 graduated

AG: Okay.

MBM: And those that did graduate, you know a good amount of, you know maybe 75 you know percent or 50 percent, I don't know somewhere in there

AG: Yeah.

MBM: I'm not sure what's good or not, you know, a decent amount of people did but a lot of people didn't, a lot of people just went right into work or started their lives early. Being parents or just you know, chose a different path.

AG: Those who graduated did they tend to go to like big campuses like UW Madison or did they closer to home?

MBM: It really varies, I was only, there was only one other person from my class that went to UW -- Oshkosh. A Lot of people, about 10 I think that at least I know of went to UW-Madison. Some people went to La Crosse, some Platteville, a 3:00lot of different areas but a lot of UW schools not a lot of people going to, you know, places outside of the UW System. Some people did techs like that so--

AG: So, what were parents, grandparents, other family members like? Like how was your home life?

MBM: Well my grandparents I was closer to the ones on my dad's side, so my grandfather was a postal worker and my grandma had various work she worked as a substitute teacher on and off and she also went into politics so she was, she ran for office for a couple of different things here and there when she lived in Illinois. They were in Chicago for a while, because that is where my grandma and grandpa met. Because my grandma came over from I think (she?) was born in 4:00Chicago but my great grandma is from Lithuania. Everyone was kind of focused in Chicago.

AG: Yeah.

MBM: And kind of went from there. My father was born in Chicago, so that's kind of where they are from. So very avid Chicago fans in every sense of the word. So, we were pretty close with them and lived with them for about a year. They had a farm out in Broadhead, where we first lived when we were in Broadhead. Which really nice I mean, there great. They got me politically involved. They were the ones that would start (Vigles?) in our town for different things. The grandparents on my mother side, they're okay, they're nice enough. I was never really close to them.

AG: Okay.

MBM: Very much more on the religious side. And they had a lot of grandkids, so if they remembered which one I was that was a positive for them.

5:00

AG: Okay, that's good.

MBM: So yeah.

AG: Totally get that, that's like my mom's side of the family.

MBM: Mm-hm very catholic.

AG: Very Catholic. Very Catholic. Did they emphasize education at all? Did they say school was important?

MBM: My dad's side definitely did.

AG: Okay.

MBM: Never got that from my mom's side. I feel like there was that feel of mistrust in Higher Education. Of elite, you know, kind of people. But on my dad's side, definitely, like education is very important. You need to, you know, education is power. Kind of a thing. So they were very positive and very--yeah.

AG: Okay, okay, that's good. So what did, again like I know you mention a little about the higher education but when the time came for you to go to college, did they have any opinion on which college to go to or were they like go where your 6:00heart desires?

MBM: Sure, well my grandparents, yeah, my dad's parents were very active in education, would even take us to House on the Rock if we got straight A's. Kind of a thing. It was a very (Wisconsiny?) thing to do. But, yeah, my grandma was like you should definitely go to U-Rock, which is the UW College of Rock County. You know, that was close by, so it was the county college but relied to the UW system, I believe but you know she said, take your gen eds, there and then transfer to somewhere else. You know you can stay home. You should build up money and you know not waste your first couple of years, doing, you know, getting distracted with partying. And all that stuff. Make sure you do this first. They were kind of like you know, didn't trust the whole--yeah.

AG: Okay

MBM: 4 year thing.

AG: So they didn't like--

MBM: I mean they did but their children like my aunts, had a hard time when they 7:00were first starting out. Like their 4 year degree. Like my dad got a Bachelor of Arts in Art and hasn't done much with it. So they were kind of like well (You really need to save money?) and that stuff and maybe get the other stuff later.

AG: Oh okay, okay.

MBM: Get a 2 year and get a 4 year later.

AG: Oh okay, so when did you start thinking about going to college? Like in high school or was it earlier then that?

MBM: I think it was a lot of, that whole social thing, were you just expect to, you--if what you do in life is important to you then you're going to go to college. Was kind of the feeling I got in my mind. My mom had always given to me, as a teacher, that you need to start preparing for college in middle school. Think about what do you want to do, what do you wanna learn, what do you wanna get out of high school to be able to go into college with and focusing in high 8:00school on, what college I want to go to, to see what their prerequisites are, to see if I had enough. If I had enough foreign language to go to UW-Oshkosh because they had so many things, blah blah blah, so I took those AP courses those kind of things to get as many credits as I could before I got into college.

AG: Oh okay, so what interested you about coming to college? The whole education? Because your mom said that education is important or was it more of the social stigma of living on your own?

MBM: I think at the time, in my maturity, it was a lot of the social aspect and especially being in a small town where everyone knows you, everyone is aware of your business all the time, just kind of getting away from that. And discovering who I am versus what everyone else wants me to be what everyone else expects in that whole town everyone knows. But I also wanted to see what I could do as far 9:00as music. Because at the time I wanted to go into music business so I was really focused on that.

AG: Okay, so where did you consider going, like before you picked UW-O, were there other colleges that you considered?

MBM: Mm-hm, yup. I considered UW-Madison, UW-Milwaukee and the Twin Cities.

AG: Okay, so what about UW-Madison attracted you to like, that looks like a good school?

MBM: Because it just having a high reputation for it academics and it's degree when you come out of it. I'm very familiar with the Madison area. Madison was only 40 minutes north of me so there was a part of it that felt like home. My dad's parents now live in Madison, you know I have aunts there, I have relatives there. So, like there is like this, you know, support system if you need it. I am kind of comfortable with it but….

AG: Okay, so you said that intended to study you said music…

10:00

MBM: Music Business yes, so I wanted to help with recording, editing, promoting in the music industry.

AG: Was that just an interest you...or was it like family? Or Friends?

MBM: It was a kind of, music has always been, some, one of my passions. Music and Art. But music, like really hits you in your soul, kind of so it really, like if I wanna be happy in life this is something that I maybe could be a part of. And that would make me happy.

AG: Okay, I also understand that too. That music a big part of my life as well. It's good like place to go.

MBM: Yeah, exactly. And my friends at the time, they had been in a band and I 11:00got very involved in, like the band kind of scene when I was in high school and like my senior project was holding a battle of the bands and it was like this is great. This is what I love.

AG: So what it like you knew it? I know that you said that you had a friend who came up to UW- Oshkosh?

MBM: I really studied, I did a lot of online research, what do these different colleges offer. UW-Oshkosh was the only one that I could see that actually offered music business. As a major. Whereas other places had you know just music as the degree but then you could specialize little things here or there. But there wasn't like a specific degree, like music business. UW-Oshkosh had that.

AG: Okay, so then besides the whole degree, why did you decide to pick UW-Oshkosh out of UW-Madison, Milwaukee, and The twin cities?

12:00

MBM: Mm-hm. Growing up in a small town, although I wanted to get away from it. It has a small town feel here. I really liked that it was, compacted, where UW-Madison and all these other campuses the size of it kind of like, was too much for me. Because I didn't have a driver's licenses actually. So the thought of trying to get around to these different places was kind of intimidating. Finances were a huge factor because no one could really help me with that aspect. So UW-Oshkosh was appealing that way. I liked that it was on a lake and it has a river right there, so it has that water aspect, it has music business and it also had the individual planned major which I ended up doing actually, so it has all of these different things and oh, the one that really clenched, was the STAR program.

13:00

AG: Could you explain what that is a little bit?

MBM: Sure. So that STARs for residents program was the Student Artist and Residents and they had a bunch of different resident programs at the time, or at least 5 I wanna say. Where you could live in a certain hall of a specific floor and you're enrolled in this where people who are liked minded or have these interest too in the same area and you also share some classes so it gives you kind of a help getting to know people that might be interested in the same thing and that deal so I thought it might be cool. And it was on a co-ed floor and I liked that. Just a mix of people so…

AG: Do you remember what hall?

MBM: Yup, it was South Scott 6th floor. That was the STAR floor and people knew it as the weird floor.

AG: The weird floor?

MBM: Because it because it was the artist it was all the musicians, the theater 14:00people, the art people all the bizarre you know, yeah.

AG: Okay, that's good, never like South Scott now, like back then and now.

MBM: Mm-Hm, it has changed a lot.

AG: That's really interesting, so what did you know about like before you attended here, I know you said that you did a lot of research, and like the major you wanted to go into and everything, but like student, location, stuff like that.

MBM: I mean like how many students are attending?

AG: Yeah, like student body size.

MBM: Not really. It was pretty focus on what I wanted to do and what I wanted to get out of it. Kind of just the feel to...and I thought maybe UW-Oshkosh cause 15:00you hear all this stuff about, at least at the time, I did, about UW zero. You know it haven't savaged to its own reputation, like it has now for like sustainability and all this other stuff. It's kind of like the third biggest school so then I was like "Hey maybe I can get into that music program," you know. Verses it would a little bit harder at the other places.

AG: Alright, that whole thing with UW zero, I've heard that a lot, is that like a bad rap?

MBM: It was a bad rap UW Zero, was more like you know they let anybody in like like they'll give anyone a degree kind of a deal ,you know it's just an easier to get in then other places, so…

AG: And did that affect your decision?

MBM: A little bit it was a little bit like you know was my degree going to seem worth it to like employers and stuff you know. You got it from UW-Oshkosh verses somewhere else. But this is the degree I want, so maybe they will specialize in 16:00this, so that's what I am going to do.

AG: Ok, so when you first came to Oshkosh like your first day of freshman year and you saw the campus like what was your first impression of the campus when you first saw it?

MBM: Well, cardboard kind of. At the time, it was very and I don't know if this is just the wood chips smell but this kind of cardboard maybe it was all the boxes people are moving in but you know I came from rolling farm lands and everything here is so flat and you're hit with all these billboards coming into Oshkosh, it was kind of just, like it just seem kind of like this flat really like, I don't know, yeah that was kind of my first impression it was kind of like not a colorful place but then again the floor that I was on was very 17:00colorful literally and figuratively.

AG: So what about Oshkosh in general, I know that you said you grew up in a smaller town coming up here, it's still kind of got that small town feel, was it like, I don't want to say a culture shock but what it like…

MBM: Not too much, I think, well no, I should say it was kind of, because where I grew up it is a very different feel it's conservative a little bit religiously but politically it's more progressive where is here it's definitely more conservative. The humor, I found to be different and that was a little bit of a culture shock, here it is very more cynical and and I don't know just kind of... not mean but like it's very different from my hometown. Where it's like I go home and it's like, "Oh yeah you people think I'm funny." You get me. Kind of 18:00like, it's just a completely different form of humor and it's just-- you don't even realize that the people from your specific hometown and those people just have the specific kind of humor and so you come there and you know...it's interesting. Because people even came up from the great under me and went UW Oshkosh then, they experience the same thing but they're just very different ages don't expect those things, you know to be different within Wisconsin. It's just like "Oh yeah, that's different here."

AG: So then what is your major currently? I know that you said the music business but what did you end up pulling out of…?

MBM: So, I kind of had my epiphany starting my junior year. I didn't make it into the music program, I could've gone in if I wanted to The trombone thing 19:00because nobody does a trombone major and I'm sure they need them. And everyone goes in wanting to be an alto singing and that's what I really enjoy singing but everybody else does that too. So, not getting into the program, so I was very undecided for a while, kind of tried radio TV film, tried art, tried a few of the other things I really enjoyed but wasn't cutting it and then I taken things that interested me and then environmental science studies and political science kind of a hit home and I knew I wanted to do like environmental advocacy/ activism, something like that and nothing really existed at the time for majors and that an environmental studies, I believe at the time was was even like a minor, so what I did is the individually planned major and what you had to do and nobody had done it in a very long time, what I had to do was tell them basically what I wanted to do and they had to search and see if there was 20:00anybody else in the UW system that has a degree like this the (beasily?) and the sustainability and nobody did. So, they were like OK well then you can make this a major, what you have to do, you have to get three professors, I think this is a good idea, and they're going to be your advisers, you're gonna be your committee and you have to form a list, a list of, I formed a list 60 credits that would be part of the major and I was able to do it the my unofficial title I guess was, Policy Change the Grassroots of Non-Profit Organizations and had environmental emphasis so yeah that's what I ended up doing and it was a combination of environmental studies, political science, communication, sociology, gender studies it was very rounded, you know so I'm like, I'm either going to get three majors and a couple minors and be in college forever or make 21:00my own major so…

AG: So that major that you have now, is that like an official major at UW-O or is it still a minor?

MBM: No, it's strange what they do. They don't, like you can create your own major but they don't added to the list of majors that people can take so it is my own major but it's not anyone else's. Like I created it but they don't keep it on the roster so I had a friend who wanted to do the same thing he's like so, what do I do? But he wanted a social justice emphasis and process so I basically worked as like kind of like advising him like what he should, you know, what classes I did, you know, maybe other ones he would do and so every time they have to remake a new.

AG: Okay that's interesting, I thought that we had a sustainability…

MBM: Well, when I think now, there are probably, I mean, I know that there is a master's of sustainability now and I think there's environmental studies itself is a major now and they have like environmental health there's a lot more 22:00majors, they had even, there's engineering, environmental engineering as well so yeah there's….

AG: It's broadened, I know that you said you had an epiphany your junior year but what made you decide to go into this field you have now?

MBM: It was actually when I was talking with friends not really knowing what I was going to do we're kind of bouncing off ideas because we were in a similar class together and we're just kind of, you know, lamenting about the state of things and then I was kind of like oh my gosh this is what I want to do is work to change the things that I think need changing. And help to make better policies so that we can have environmental sustainability basically.

AG: So do you remember any of your classes very well from your year?

MBM: I do, if I'm going to remember the course name, maybe not I know there was 23:00a sociology class that I had that the author's name was Michael Parenti it was "Against Empire" was the book I remember reading that and that was an influence and it was interesting. The course itself was OK but I think that discussion with the class, because every class was like a seminar it was just all discussion pretty much everyone read everything and we all just talked and it was pretty cool so that one was kind of interesting but also I think it was called the deep ecology or something to that effect, or deep environmentals, I think it was deep ecology and that one was huge for me, we read a book and this one was only volunteering because it is so hard to get through because of the 24:00material is very emotional to read and it's called the Language Older Than Words by Derek Johnson and that one was also very like hit home, we learned about like monkeywrenching, do you know what that is?

AG: No.

MBM: So basically what it is is like pranks almost to stop construction projects that are going to be hurting a specific area like putting steaks and trees so that they can't chainsaw them, you know, clear cut them, all these little thing, we just read about and all these different things that people had done to stop dams and to stop all these different things. It was just it was very interesting. Had very difficult conversations about things that people are, that are kind of controversial right now, like genetically modified organisms and things like that so it's just it was very interesting.

25:00

AG: So I know that you mention the professors you had to get it for you, so you had to get three professors for your advisory committee where they like you. Are they just like professors that you know very well or was it…?

MBM: I wanted to get professors from, ones that kind of inspired me and ones that were varied so I wanted them to kind of be from different elements of the the major that I saw so kind of like from the social activism part I had Anne (Frich?) Who at the time, Oh was she in sociology I forget what area or human services, I don't remember, but she's like a huge activists like peace activist and that's what she does now in retirement I believe is like a non-violent activist and I got Tony (Pulmary?) who is in the political science department and he was one of the big influences that got me involved in politics locally and things like that and also David Barnhill and he's in environmental studies.

26:00

AG: Are they still here on campus?

MBM: I'm not sure. I heard that David was leaving but I'm not sure if he has. Tony Pulmary is still on campus I believe and and Anne (Frich?) is been retired for a while.

AG: So I know that you mention that you were proud of the USP program that's happening here now at UW Oshkosh but what do you remember about general education classes like back in your time? I don't know if the USP program relatively new on campus or?

MBM: Yes, it is pretty new, in the past five years I want to say, and when I was going through school they didn't have that. You had certain categories you had to take classes and I don't know if it is still like that to take like non-western studies you have to do like all these different things. You have to do advanced comm and all these different things but some of it is it's hard 27:00because a lot of it is trying to teach you the fundamentals of being a student and what you need for the rest of your college career and people are different levels and a lot of things came easy to me so a lot of those like gen eds I was like, eh I already know some of the stuff like the gen ed English stuff I was already like OK I know all this this kind of, it didn't challenge me enough but the sciences I was glad to have, introduction and even the ma--the math was so goofy because the thing is they change the pre-recs right before I got in so from the time I did my test taking to see what level I got into and once I was actually in that fall, they change the courses and what was required so my math didn't match up so ended up taking a couple different math's because they were kind of guessing, what the level equivalent was and so it was just kind of weird but yeah, I don't know, I just like the fact that the USP is a little bit more 28:00active it's getting people in the community, it's connecting the education to actual community action whereas when you're just taking a gen ed you don't think that much, you're just thinking, oh I just have to push through this so I can do the stuff I really wanted to, whereas I believe that the USP is actually teach you that, yeah this is something that you do need to know and this is why because you're actually going to use this out in the real world and these are real life experiences that show you that.

AG: All right, so you like the idea of the USP program and it's like pushing students to go outside go out into your community and get involved?

MBM: Yeah. Because I mean really, it changed my life I know and I--I've been involved with multiple USP classes since it started which have just been amazing but it's different not being a student and sitting there like I'm eager to learn 29:00and so excited about that and students are like yeah this is my class but I think it's just so cool I don't know I think it's neat what they're doing and how they're helping the city because I'm very involved with the city and I'm seeing the positive effect it's having on Oshkosh so…

AG: Okay, so kind of going off the education and into the more social, when you were here at UW-Oshkosh, what did you do for fun on campus, maybe over the weekends or maybe when you were just hanging out in the dorms? I know you said 6th floor, was what the odd floor.

MBM: Yeah it was weird it was a bizarre floor, well I was involved in a couple student organizations my first year. I was involved in SOFA, Students Organized for Art, so I did that. Sometimes we played like people play music all the time randomly like some people would just grab like my keyboard and just start playing stuff or like we play acoustic guitar either in someone's room or we go 30:00down into like the courtyard area of the Scotts and just play together and stuff or I don't know, there was definitely partying that happen too, as part of the college experience as, you know, it's unfortunate as an adult you look back at that and know it's totally not necessary to have much of a positive effect on you at the time but it is kind of a negative you really had to watch out because people that I don't know would go too far and you just see them how is negatively affecting their lives and stuff and we would sometimes walk downtown and you know go to the different shops down there. There definitely wasn't as much there wasn't the cool student rec and wellness center, if we wanted to work out we go to Fletcher. Yeah there was a gym in the basement of Fletcher where 31:00you had like two or three elliptical machines but you have to sign up for a time so you can actually get your elliptical machine at that time . Yep I try to be active and do that. But it was, yeah, I don't know sometimes it would be nice to just yeah be free or not do anything and just walk around.

AG: this is really interesting because I didn't know that Fletcher was like that so was that like the only place on campus or could you go to like Albee to work out or was it most people either went to Fletcher or just ran.

MBM: I'm sure you could have go to Albany to swim and stuff but I'm not a great swimmer and all the people that are in sports would be in LB and I didn't really want to get in their way so if you weren't really part of sports you would kind of went to Fletcher I think there might of been one other basement where were you would like but it was stingy or something (intangible) but fletcher was like 32:00the place to go, and you had to pay I think a small amount to work out there.

AG: Okay, so then that student and rec center, was there just like flatland or was there another building?

MBM: Sometimes we got to play tennis, the tennis courts were there but there was a lot of field there was a soccer field and then there is just, yeah, a lot of space down by the river I guess, there was a lot going on down….

AG: I was just curious I mean when I first moved in I know that that building is relatively new.

MBM: Yeah, I am try to remember, what was even there, it's hard to remember what it was like now but we definitely paid for it in like our last year and it got directed that next fall after we graduated but yep our seg fees when into it so like come on.

AG: You get the workout when you leave and it's like dang it. Oh gosh now I 33:00lost, oh, where did you spend most of your time on campus?

MBM: I spent most of my time, some of it in the library but not too much, some in the A & C building but mostly in my dorm room or in our in like our little , I forget what it's called like the one room on your floor in the dorm where like the breakout room kind of….

AG: The lounge?

MBM: The lounge, that would be the word. So sometimes in the lounge or just being outside, I tried to get outside and like sit on benches, or just lay in the grass somewhere to do homework and stuff like that. But, yeah the lounge, oh we played TNT oh god we were such nerds. We play games sometimes yeah. In the lounge too, it was great.

AG: Sounds like a good time.

MBM: It was.

AG: So I know that you mention you were part of SOFA, did you do any other 34:00extracurricular events or club organizations, that you can remember?

MBM: Oh yeah. So when I was getting a little bit older I did the WISPRG, Wisconsin students or Wisconsin, what was it, public interest research group. Wisconsin public research group so there was a student organization we put together for that, like we brought it to campus, it was like an actual international thing and then they had the state part the WISPG and then the student part, chapter of that, where we got really politically involved in different things and actually there was a bus trip down to Washington DC to protest drilling in the Arctic national wildlife refuge so that was something 35:00that we did and we petitioned against it on campus and we actually had a bunch of people call our Congressional representative Tom (Peetry?) and convince him to change his position on if we should drill in the Arctic or not so that was kind of cool so I was really involved in that. I got involved in Campus Greens. Those were the ones that I was mostly involved with but even my classes got us involved with other stuff on campus like one of my classes we had to talk to dining services and we were going to see if they can more local food there or do fair trade. And the foot work that we did actually, the groundwork to do the fair trade certification at the University the next fall.

AG: What's the fair trade if you don't mind me asking?

MBM: We are the first fair trade certified university in the nation so what that means is that basically whenever we are serving coffee on campus, like Sodexo 36:00and all that, we have to serve Fair Trade.

AG: Okay.

MBM: Or at least make it available for people to have. So it's like, we also sell fair trade stuff in the, in Reeve in the corner convenient store. Or maybe it's now moved to the bookstore. I think now it's in the book store. But what that means, for people that don't know what fair trade is, it's basically giving people who are in third world countries a fair price for their goods, rather than free trade, which reduces the price, they call sell that to us. And the concept is, that free trade, reduces the fees and tariffs to sends things to and from different countries. But it also, doesn't give them a fair price so then they have to sell it so low to give it to us, they don't make enough to live.

AG: So interesting, so then do they have like special, like does it say on the 37:00packaging or wherever it is.

MBM: Yup. There is fair trade certification so there is a thing that says fair trade certified if it certified fair trade it'll say which organization there is a bunch of different trade kind of organization but the one that is like the best quote on quote is Fear for Life, which means which means, I think, a certain percentage is like completely fair trade because I think fair trade certified means a certain percent of the product is fair trade but not the whole thing have to be so.

AG: So then were there any like major campus issues happening when you were here, like political, cultural, educational that you recall.

MBM: oh yeah we were-- One of the things we petitioned the university was to move from from so much coal and fire. Obviously we see our coal fire plant on campus and getting involved environmentally we were like well why don't we buy 38:00more renewable energy instead, this doesn't make sense, why aren't we spending so much money on that? So, we actually moved from being, I thought it was 3% but when I was emailing you I saw that it was four percent to elven percent of clean energy. So we were the ones lobbying the chancellor to do that and move to that so that was kind of cool to see that happen, so that was a thing. I remember there was still a lot of people on campus that were, there were always those who were shaming women and holding signs about abortion, about how women are, you know just calling them dams and saying that there all, you know, going out and doing these things, that's not true. So that was yeah, that always had been going on. I feel like for a while, which is unfortunate. The election between Gore and Bush was going on during my sophomore year, so that was kind of a big 39:00deal and I and my best friend were on different sides of that. And we were rooming together so that was interesting. Well we had like great conversations, cause it was like okay let's be calm and just think about this and talk through these things, and it was just an interesting thing. Cause we walked arm and arm together, like voting for different people that day, you know, it was great, but that was definitely a big thing at the time. I ended up not being as active on campus, a little bit, I mean I was but when I was getting into my junior-senior and super senior year, I was getting more involved in the city politics. I ran for common council for the city of Oshkosh my junior year when I was 21.

AG: Common council? What is that?

MBM: It's the city council, it's called common council but it's the city 40:00council. So I ran for that and that was the one year that it was highly contested, no other time is it really that highly contested but that particular year there were nine candidates for three open positions. So yeah, it was huge, it was kind of, you know, a big thing for me but I'm sure no one felt the ripples of that on campus. But we definitely, Oshkosh Greens when I was in school brought up something that was kind of a bigger deal within the city of Oshkosh, talking about the water quality in Miller's Bay in Menominee Park as part of Lake Winnebago because there using a lot of different herbicides and different things to take care of the invasive species that they were thinking was there, trying to kind of as a management system and we were concerned about that and we were actually on OCAT, a local number 2 channel at one time, to talk 41:00about it and kind of bring it to people's attention and ask the sustainability advisory board to look into alternatives to dumping those herbicides, you know at different times, and look for a better long term solution. And so that actually carried on. And now I'm on the sustainability advisory board.

AG: You say you are on that board now?

MBM: Yup. As of 2010. So it was a couple years, after I graduated.

AG: Speaking of graduation, how did you feel when you were finally like done?

MBM: I panicked. I was kind of like okay, so I got this degree and I don't think I realized it at the time but my passion is something that people don't pay very well for and I just got this degree and I am going to have to start paying for it. And I actually got a second interview with WISPRG in Chicago, not the 42:00student chapter but just, you know, actually and so I think it's the overall purge and so it was the fund for public interest. Okay, so it was the umbrella organization over the PERGE, funds for public interest because they do a bunch of non-profits. And it was a very unfortunate experience, because and I think it really opened up my eyes to the quote unquote real world because it was a very cold reception, it's kind of what you would expect, in like a high exec kind of office where there just like, you know, a hard line not smiling, I asked about if we get any medical benefits, pharmaceutical benefits anything like that, of course everything was no. You're looking at $23,000 dollars a year with an educational stipend at the end of it. Like, yeah okay, of a couple thousand maybe. And the hours would be 50 to 60 hours per week during the slow times. 43:00During the busy times, up to 80 hours. Like straight face, 80 hours a week. Getting paid that much, without any benefits to speak of. And I said, I wasn't able to move because I was close to my family, I would like to stay in Wisconsin. Or that area. I would like to stay in that Midwest, that area. And they went out and talk to somebody and said that they don't have any opening positions available. And it was the second interview how is that possible, incisor like I'm sorry there's nothing available will let you know if anything comes up so, it was very eye-opening experience, dad even non-profits can have this top down organization.

AG: What would you have done for that company if you were hired?

MBM: I would have done the campaign organizing and to try to get people to 44:00contact their representatives regarding different environmental issues really, campaign, lobby different representatives about issues, to make sure people were educated about the different things that are going on and that kind of a deal, it's a lot of going door-to-door or making sure that--it's those people that are out there with clipboards and a pen and saying oh can you sign this do, you know, this petition whatever, can you call your representative today talk to him about this issue, kind of a deal. Writing letters.

AG: Is that like on a local government level or is it federal?

MBM: National.

AG: National. Okay, besides that company did you know what you wanted to do with, I know that you said that you were nervous, I have this degree what am I going to do, did you have any thoughts, of, Oh this might be interesting.

MBM: It was kind of like, Oh I have to move to Madison because that's where all the progressive organizations are and that's where I'm gonna be able to get a 45:00job and that's where the opportunities are and that's I feel home but I married somebody, I met somebody while I was in college and I was like, Oh okay he's from the Fox valley, his dad from Fox Valley. He doesn't want to leave the Fox Valley so then it was kind of looking at it like, okay now what are we going to do? If I had to be here in the Fox Valley where would I want to be and I worked on campus for a long time so I guess that's where I spent a lot of my time was working actually. I was working part-time at the English department starting my junior year and I worked at Mel's Campbell which is now Silverstar brand s.

AG: Which is?

MBM: it's a magazine company basically but now I guess it's just going to be Internet I guess because a lot of magazines I mean they still have them but not a lot of people order for magazines anymore that's a lot of easy comfort stuff it's a lot of As Seen on TV, that kind of a thing so my job was taking these 46:00magazines orders and putting them into the computer and completing the order and submitting them. Very flexible, you could put in your music, and you just have to push out so many orders are hour.

AG: Okay so obviously you work on campus now, so how, you obviously have had much involvement on campus since you graduated, so what do you do on campus now?

MBM: So what I do now, I am so glad I got into this area, when I first graduated I went into my panic mode well I did work for advancing Wisconsin that which was a non-profit, I was happy about that, basically gearing up for Obama's election, that was in 2008, but that ended after the election, like I knew it was going to but it was like oh still a good experience or whatever and I was like ahh panic again and then I applied to be an LTE on campus, a limited term employee, so it 47:00can't be longer than 6 months but sometimes they renew them. So I got into the Student Financial Services so I worked in like the student account's office and also helped out with the cashier's and then the student loan area, that works with the Perkins loans and the Nursing Loans. And I worked there for a while, and then I saw this opportunity to work, for the Environmental Research and Innovation Center and oh hey Environmental cool and it was kind of more geared on water quality and all these things that really matter to me, so I was like this is a great opportunity, it's 75% position so maybe I would have some more time, with my son. Cause I had a kid, in the meantime, all this craziness, and so yeah so here, the position ended up being, 50% here and 50% with the biogas systems. Because then we built a bio-digesters, and we needed help with that and 48:00it's kind of related to the Environmental Research and Innovation Center, kind of birthed from that. So the biogas systems, we now have three, related to UW-Oshkosh, so I do a lot of the administration functions for ERIC, which is our acronym for the Environmental Research and Innovation Center and for the biodigesters. So I do a lot of the, I call it facilitating, it's a lot of the organizational stuff, the office stuff, the paper work, all of that kind of stuff. For the people that are doing the, because the people that are doing all the sciencing and have time to do all of this other stuff, it was kind of….

AG: So the biodigesters, are they like on campus?

MBM: One is on campus, so one is across the river next to the campus service building, and it is the first of its kind in the Americas, including North and 49:00South America. It is a commercial size, dry anaerobic, bio-digester. And what that means is it can take in not just wet material like other bio-digesters that are in the United States, there are plenty of wet ones. But, it can also take in a certain amount of dry material which means it can take food waste. So that's kind of huge, this is technology that has been over in England, not England sorry, Europe for a long time, we took the technology from Germany or we partnered with Germany to get this technology with the Vice-Men corporation which is a family company, so basically we worked through them and Bio-Firm to build this bio-digester that takes food waste, like local food waste, some from Blackhawk commons and some from like local restaurants, Wal-Mart, grocery stores, food pantries, anything like that. Hospital, schools, as well as 50:00agricultural bedding waste and yard waste from the city, also gets dropped off there. And we mix it up in a pile and put it into a cement chamber and all of the off gassing that happens, we capture all of that methane and that is used as a renewable source of energy, it produces both power and heat, and we also get the gas channeled in from the water treatment plant from the city as well. So that can be used for energy and power, or energy and heat. So that's all sold back to the grid, it's not like actually piped anywhere right now. I mean it heats own bio-digester. Eventually if there is money then hopefully we can heat other buildings surrounding and things like that. And there is also the potential future for cleaning up, getting a scrubber and possibly using the gas 51:00for C&G, like natural gas basically as a fuel source for fleet vehicles and things like that, which is actually why the city located across the street, from the bio-digester, so they set up all their new fleet stuff there and they have, they will make sure all the new fleet are natural gas. So they have their own natural gas pump station area right there, right now but in the future it's a possibility that's open.

AG: Okay so then you said it was specifically just in Oshkosh that they only have…

MBM: Not just in Oshkosh, the other two, there is a small mixed digester which has dry and wet stuff and that is in (Intangible) just north of Oshkosh and that's at a small dairy farm. So this can be applied to most dairy farms in Wisconsin are small. So that technology can be applied there. And we also have one at Rosendale Dairy which is a huge farm, it has upwards of 8,000 cows in 52:00picket. So, that's our large wet bio-digester. Which also we'll have an educational building there soon, so people can learn from that technology.

AG: Are there like, not just University of Wisconsin campuses but like multiple campuses outside of Wisconsin, like, I am trying to think how to word this, seen the technology you're using here and wanting to apply it to their campus?

MBM: Yes. We've gotten calls from multiple states, multiple universities saying, how can we do this? How did you guys do this? How much did it cost? Where did you get the money? Like how can we do this and we have also seen people from Canada, Honduras, Mexico, like all of these different places too, wanting to apply the technology themselves, so it's been kind of cool, we get in visitors like internationally and like anybody that comes on campus, we've had senators 53:00come and visit and just to see what we are doing. So, it's kind of cool and not just that but the technology that is coming out of it, the students are getting hands on experience from all of this that work here in the lab and testing this material. And the material once it comes out of our campuses dry bio-digester that's turned into compost. So we have something that is called (Tango?) compost too that we can sell and all the proceeds go back into scholarships for students and internships. That all goes back to the foundation.

AG: Well that's interesting, it's a different side of my campus I hadn't learned about, so what are your thoughts now about UW-Oshkosh like sustainability wise, or just educational wise or like social wise.

MBM: Yeah, I see it as very innovating. I mean it seems like this cut and dry as you heard from the cardboard kinda, you know coming into it it just seemed 54:00kind of blah, coming in. But, I mean coming out of it, changed so much and it has developed an identity I feel like, as a sustainable institution and I feel like it grabbed an identity, hey this is what we are good at and this is what we are doing. It was already a good nursing school and these other things, but now it's going to be this great research institution. It's even amped up its nursing program with renovating CLOW and all the cool things they have done there. Like just the buildings and the amount of gold leigh standard buildings we have and just seeing that innovating technology and all the forward thinking that this university has done, is just awesome. It leads above, even above Madison we have more technology for this. I know that they have leigh standard buildings and stuff like that too, but it's just amazing that, that's where administration put their priorities and I think that is really something cool. Especially, like even taking some of these risks where you change the gen ed program like USP, I 55:00think it's a huge risk and there is a lot of work involved but they did it. And I think that is awesome. It's just been this awesome, positive experience, I'm like over enthusiastic about it and now when I talk about students who are going, I'm like that's so cool and their like yeah okay. Sure.

AG: But you're happy with how the campus has become sustainable or do you think it could be, like looking at the campus, do you think it could be better sustainably, I mean obviously it can.

MBM: I mean there's obviously ways we can still improve but there are ways I wouldn't even thought of. That students have thought of that, and I love that students have mostly be impotence to get all these different changes, that we are even growing lettuce and all these different things, in those gardens in Blackhawk, there are all these really cool things, I mean I think there are things that have been negatively impacted but I don't think, I think the 56:00university's priorities mostly grayic, I think that we have suffered from the budget losses from 2008 when I first started being an employee. Things have kind of really shifted as far as employment, things that students don't see where we have very gear bone administration, I have seen, when I first started, how many people that they had functioning in the administration office for like purchasing, for students to help with all these different things to make sure the university is running go down to literally maybe one person per responsibility and perhaps would have grabbed responsibilities that would have been other departments. You know, condensed down to maybe like five people whereas maybe there were 10 or 15 before, you know, I know like in student 57:00accounts, that are people helping with students, there are, we saw when were visiting other campuses 10 people working there, there's maybe 2 full time people working in that area. Maybe three, you know, so there is the brusa and maybe a couple of people, one working in loans so it's, I don't think that people feel, there is this whole other side that students don't see, where I feel like that could be improved, but I don't know how yet. There is just not a lot of support for state universities right now. But, I am glad for the most part that students have been getting to see a lot of the positive stuff.

AG: Okay, so then the final question I have for you, is do you have anything you want to say, any advice you wanna give cause this is maybe going to be heard by multiple students on campus.

MBM: Sure, I guess the biggest thing is, don't be afraid to try something different, or how it's gonna look, or like the friends that you have right now 58:00aren't involved with it, because I am telling you, yes, I still have some college friends but most of the time they disperse. Like they just go off to their lives, so don't be afraid to try something. Like I thought it was really cool, you could get involved in all this rock climbing or going on these different adventures, doing these things, studying abroad, doing that stuff. Like don't be afraid to do it. I mean this is the one time in your life when you're not going to have as many things holding you back, I guess. I mean even finances, that was holding me back a little bit, but I still studied abroad a little and I am so glad I did, I wish I would have been able to more of that. So I think it just, don't be afraid of those culture shockers, you know, getting out of your comfort zone risk because that could be life changing for you. You could experience something that makes you take a whole different route. So, I guess that would be my biggest push. I guess.

59:00

AG: Alright, well thank you for doing this interview.

MBM: Of course, thank you so much for asking.

Search This Transcript
Search Clear