Down By The Lake by Meryl Strichartz

Down By The Lake by Meryl Strichartz

Meryl Strichartz is a Kenosha resident and active board member of the Kenosha Community Sailing Center.  She is also a member of the Kenosha Yacht Club and ally to many Kenosha harbor businesses and environmental groups.  She is the owner of Lakeshore Pedal Tour and Career Coaches of Wisconsin.  She has her MBA from UW-Parkside and has been involved with many Kenosha and Racine nonprofits.

1 Billion Served and We’re Not Talking Burgers

​Ahoy – When I’m traveling, I often run into fellow Wisconsonites and can identify them by their Green Bay Packer clothing.  But we also have another claim to fame that I have not seen branded onto a t-shirt, and probably should be.  We are the founders of Earth Day.  Yes, our very own Senator GaylordNelson made Earth Day official in 1970 and it is now the largest secular celebration in the world with more than a billion people every year taking environmental action.

This year in celebration of Earth Day, Nancy Carlson, the Program Director of WATERshed, has been organizing a Kenosha beach clean-up for the Great Lake Community Conservation Corps which is partnering with the Environmental Protection Agency’s Trash-Free Waters initiative

To avoid large gatherings, Nancy has been seeking organizations who can commit a small group of 6-12 people to clean up a beach rather than just inviting community members down to participate. There are so many organizations in Kenosha that have already stepped up, but she needs a few more and will be holding additional clean-ups in our parks over the summer.

So, let me tell you a bit about the WATERshed program.  Their mission is to promote conservation of our natural resources through education and preservation in Lake Michigan’s coastal communities.  The program has won multiple awards and is consistently recognized for their excellence in education (the program is linked to Next Generation Science Standards). The WATERshed program uses Lake Michigan and the creeks and rivers that feed into it as living laboratories to help students make personal connections to freshwater resources in our community. They organize many school field trips (virtual in 2020), fundraisers and exciting community-building events.

WATERshed is working with the Great Lake Community Conservation Corp because they have overlapping missions.  In addition to bringing the Trash-Free Waters initiative to our area, the Great Lake Community Conservation Corp addresses climate change, advances greener living and provides education and training for disadvantaged populations in the Great Lakes area. They run Veterans Corps  programs which offer assistance with transitioning vets into civilian life. They have a Go Solar program that offers discounted solar panel installation and a Reduce the Runoff program which provides free landscaping to qualified recipients to minimize rainwater pollution from runoff.  They also run a Certification and Emergency Response Training School out of Racine and Milwaukee that trains 18-20 year oldstudents to be first responders.

The other organizations that are stepping up to step out and clean up our beaches include:

Kenosha Community Sailing Center – Dedicated to educating individuals in the sport of sailing and promoting awareness of and access to the Kenosha Harbor and Lake Michigan.

Root Pike WIN – Dedicated to restoring, protecting and sustaining the Root-Pike basin watersheds.

Vet Corp – an inclusive program that serves all veterans transitioning into civilian life. Administered by the Great Lakes Community Conservation Corp.

Southport Park Association, – Dedicated to establishing public-private partnerships committed to historic preservation and sustainable environmental stewardship throughout Kenosha’s lakefront park system.

Seno K/R Land Trust Conservancy – Dedicated to sustainable forestry, natural resources education, conservation and land preservation.

Boy Scout Troop 422 – Troop leader

Boy Scout Troop 544 – Troop Leader

If you would like to participate in the Earth Day Beach clean-up or others that will be organized this summer, please contact Nancy Carlson at and if you can’t participate but would like to support the cause, please consider making a donation to any one of these worthwhile organizations and groups. Happy Earth Day 2021!

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This story originally appeared in the 4/08/21  edition of The Smart Reader magazine.



My dad liked to play cards, so growing up on the coast of Southern California we would sometimes drive to Las Vegas so he could play blackjack and poker.  While my dad played cards (which was never referred to as gambling), my mother took us to buffets, swimming pools, and shows.  At night she would sometimes take us outside where my brother and I could marvel at the sizzling heat of the night air and the stars.  She knew we liked stars, the moon and all things having to do with space.  It seemed like everyone liked space then.  Just looking up at the sky filled you with patriotic pride, a sense of adventure and mysterious imaginings.  The stars were dazzling and even the lights on the Strip and the jewels on Elvis’s jumpsuits didn’t compare to the night sky.


Then the years passed and the suburban skyglow grew greater than the stars.  I read somewhere that 80% of Americans can no longer see the Milky Way because of light pollution. I bring this up because the other night I got out of my car and looked up at the Kenosha sky and saw stars. Not as many as out in the desert, but enough to stop and stare.  I stood on my driveway feeling like I was holding an ace and a jack; I knew I was lucky to see them.

If you have a chance and the clouds blow away, bundle yourself up and get out there and look at our Kenosha night sky.  Better yet, take someone you love outside to look at the stars with you (and don’t even get me going about our unbelievable moon rises over the lake).

As promised, I told you that I would let you know about some incredible things going on down at the lake. One hidden treasure is Carthage College’s Professor Brian Schwartz and the Griffin Observatory at the Kemper Center. He hasn’t been able to hold public viewings this year because of COVID, but he is still hosting small groups upon request. One of Professor Schwartz’s greatest joys is to share his love of astronomy with others. To schedule a free tour, event or stargazing session, email Professor Brian Schwartz at or call 262-551-6042.

Honestly, I don’t know that much about stars, and as a sailor, if my GPS went out, there is no way I could navigate by them as they did in days of yore. All I know is that they are beautiful when they glisten in the sky and it’s my good fortune to live where I can still look up and see them at night or drive myself just a few miles to gaze at them with an expert.  

This month we will celebrate the spring equinox, St. Paddy’s Day and day light savings.  These are all indicators that spring is here and it’s time to start making summer plans.  

• The Kenosha Community Sailing Center’s course registration is open. Sign up today at

• The Kenosha Yacht Club racers are finalizing their 2021 race schedule and educational offerings.  Become a member at

• The Kenosha Sportfishing & Conservation members are planning an April 5 member meeting to plan their community events and to celebrate the good news that in 2021 they will be receiving Chinook salmon fingerlings from the WDNR for their rearing pond. Learn more at  

See you down at the lake — Meryl

Register at
Hartley Family Youth sailing scholarships available
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(This story originally appeared in the 3/11/21  edition of The Smart Reader magazine.)


This is my maiden voyage as a blog writer for Smart Reader and I hope to take you with me on an exciting journey through Kenosha’s harbor community. Kenosha is many things to many people, but it is foremost a harbor town located on the shores of Lake Michigan.

My purpose in writing is not to inspire you to become a sailor, although that would be great, especially if everyone dressed and talked like pirates, but to inform you about what is going on down at the lake. For me, what it important is simply that you know about our thriving harbor community and the incredible recreational and environmental opportunities that exist here. Each blog will feature different organizations and businesses that are doing fun and worthwhile activities that you may not know a lot about.

Closest to my heart is the Kenosha Community Sailing Center (KCSC), a nonprofit which operates in cooperation with the Kenosha Yacht Club to offer youth and adult sailing classes to the community.  This organization has been led by Jim Buck since 2008 with the unwavering support of John Gransee whom many know as a chemistry teacher from Harborside.  The two of them, along with many other volunteer sailors, have created a very special place.

The KCSC offers sailing classes for kids all summer long in the harbor.  If you have strolled along the Sculpture Walk, chances are you have been amused watching the youth sail. It is pretty routine for walkers to be tempted to call 911 when they see the kids learning how to capsize and right-side their boats. John Gransee also loves to teach the adults how to tack in the harbor’s channel by having them come-about close to the walls which always brings nervous cheers from the landlubbers as they zig-zag the boats up and down the channel.

Like so many nonprofits, when COVID-19 started to spread last year, KCSC was forced to pivot.  Youth Education Director, Bettie Wescott, worked nonstop to establish health policies and sanitation protocols. It was a challenge, particularly because the board had to make risky operational choices with nothing certain except for uncertainty.  Luckily, with protocols in place, parents did register their children for classes and registration for 2021 sailing courses has already opened (

COVID also prompted KCSC to start offering family and private group sailing courses. Bettie’s husband, Paul Wescott, a US Sailing certified instructor with the center, agreed to offer these classes to fit the scheduling needs of the families. These courses turned out to be very popular and are being offered again in 2021. These flexible private classes also appealed to couples and groups of friends that were comfortable being together in the open-air.  We jokingly called these courses our “virus buddy” classes.

My sense of humor and ideas can be zany to say the least.  For example, I’ve been wanting to do a Titanic dinner fundraiser where we would recreate the menu (maybe shave it down to 7 courses) and read from the movie script.  I was already thinking about what band we could get to play, when someone pointed out to me that it was irreverent.  Oops. I was just thinking about the fun part.  

For better or worse, this is how I roll, thinking about the fun part.  It’s been a brutal year and I know there is still much suffering in our community both personally and professionally.  But we’ve also managed as a community to come together and be creative in these challenging times. As you get to know me and the organizations that I am involved with, I hope you will also think about the fun part. If we haven’t learned anything else from 2020, it should be to not take the good times for granted.

Register at
Hartley Family Youth sailing scholarships available
Also check out

This story originally appeared in the 2/25/21  edition of The Smart Reader magazine.