GOLDEN RULE STUDENTS: Chippewa Falls High School student Payton Solberg and McDonell High School student Trevor Opsal were recently honored as “Golden Rule Students” by the Chippewa Falls Kiwanis Club.

In honor of their recognition, the club donated $50 to the charities of the students’ choice.

Solberg, daughter of Pete and Amy Solberg, selected Arrowhead Bible Camp.

Opsal, son of Beth and Scott Opsal, selected Operation Troop Appreciation.

Throughout the school year, the Kiwanis Club chooses seniors from the two Chippewa Falls high schools, nominated by the respective schools’ teachers, using specific criteria including:

• Respect for all nationalities, race, ages and gender.

• Would be willing to stand up for the rights of others.

• Active in doing community service.

• Being goal oriented.

• Taking responsibility for one’s own actions.

The Chippewa Falls Kiwanis Club meets at noon on Wednesdays at Avalon Hotel & Conference Center, 1009 W. Park Ave., Chippewa Falls.

For more information about the club, visit

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AWARDS: Nine alumni and friends of the university received UW-Eau Claire Alumni Association awards in an event associated with spring commencement at UW-Eau Claire.

The awards recognize the recipients’ professional and personal successes as well as their contributions to their alma mater, their communities and their professions.

Alumni Distinguished Achievement Award

Three people received this award, which recognizes distinguished service to the community, state or nation in a manner that brings credit upon the recipient and the university.

Debra Monroe, who received a bachelor’s degree in English in 1980, has had a distinguished career as an author, professor, teacher and mentor.

She has had six books published and has been honored with the Flannery O’Connor Award for Fiction. Her books have been reviewed in major American newspapers including the New York Times and Washington Post, and have been cited on popular recommended reading lists.

Monroe, now a professor of English at Texas State University in San Marco, received a master’s degree in composition and rhetoric from Kansas State University and a doctorate in creative writing and the history of the novel from the University of Utah.

Suzannah Sundby, who received a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry and molecular biology in 1994, joined the Drosophila Genome Project at the University of California-Berkeley, as a cytogeneticist.

As a member of this team, Sundby helped to successfully map the genome of this common fruit fly, a project cited since 2000 as a major milestone in genetic research.

After completing her master’s and doctorate in intellectual property law, Sundby joined the Washington, D.C., firm of Canady+Lortz, where she practices all aspects of intellectual property law across diverse technological fields, including the preparation and prosecution of patents, licensing, nondisclosure agreements and other IP concerns.

Sundby earned the 2017 Trailblazer Award from Young Women in Bio, a national nonprofit and volunteer organization that encourages girls to explore opportunities, education and careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

Bill White, who received a bachelor’s degree in history in 1961, has enjoyed a 46-year career as an ordained minister, the last 19 years at Bethel Lutheran Church in Madison.

During his time there, White brought the number of weekly services from three to seven, reaching many diverse and underserved populations.

White also expanded Bethel’s television ministry from three to seven stations and 30,000 weekly viewers across Wisconsin.

White retired from the pulpit in 2011 and continues volunteer ministry work and writing. He has published six nonfiction books that focus on Christian storytelling, and he has been a guest speaker on the topic across the U.S. and in England.

White also directs “Partners for Puerto Rico,” a program that matches churches in the U.S. and in Puerto Rico.

President’s Award

Kurt Mueller, who received a bachelor’s degree in marketing in 1979, received this award, which recognizes outstanding professional and personal achievements and service to UW-Eau Claire.

Mueller recently retired from Hormel Foods as senior vice president of sales for the Consumer Products Sales Division.

For his brand management work, he was recognized nationally by Brandweek Magazine as Marketer of the Year.

Mueller has spoken to students at UW-Eau Claire to recruit potential candidates for employment.

He has served as a member of the College of Business Advisiory Council at UW-Eau Claire for the past 15 years.

Outstanding Recent Alumnus Award

Two people received this award, which acknowledges the special achievements and great promise of alumni who are within 15 years of their graduation from UW-Eau Claire.

Beatris Mendez-Gandica, who received a bachelor’s degree in information systems and international business in 2013, is a security program manager for Microsoft in Seattle.

She is one of 10 ambassadors for TECHNOLOchicas, a national initiative to raise awareness among young Latinas about careers in technology.

She also has founded her own nonprofit, the Nuevo Foundation, whose mission is to give back to underrepresented students across the U.S.

Daneille Strong Skibness, who received a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice in 2005, practices law at Weld Riley in Eau Claire. Her practice focuses on creditors’ rights, collections and foreclosures, and worker’s compensation defense.

Strong Skibness was named the 2011 Mover and Shaker by Leadership Eau Claire, the 2015 Networker of the Year by the Young Professionals of the Chippewa Valley and a Super Lawyers Rising Star in Wisconsin from 2016-18.

Honorary Alumnus Award

Three people received this award, which is presented to non-alumni or non-degreed alumni who have demonstrated great love of and service to UW-Eau Claire or the greater community.

John Behling, an attorney with Weld Riley, was appointed to the UW System Board of Regents in 2012 and served as board vice president in 2015 and 2016. In 2017 he was elected president, the first Board of Regents president from the Chippewa Valley.

A champion of UW-Eau Claire for many years, Behling was instrumental in garnering support for the Confluence Project and advocated for inclusion of a new UW-Eau Claire Science and Health Sciences Building in the Regents’ 2019-21 capital budget request.

A proponent of international partnerships, Behling traveled with Chancellor James Schmidt to Oman in 2018 to sign a UW Systemwide collaboration agreement with the University of Nizwa.

Harry Boehm, 103, had seven children, all of whom attended UW-Eau Claire and became educators.

Boehm was an avid fan of Blugold athletics. Following his wife’s death in 2013 and until very recently, Boehm attended nearly all volleyball, women’s basketball and softball games, even after requiring the use of a wheelchair.

Michael Holloway started Homebuyer Associates, Wisconsin’s first residential real estate exclusive buyer agent firm.

To honor his mother’s legacy, Holloway created the Peg Dewane (Holloway) Scholarship, which will provide support to underrepresented students from the Milwaukee area in their pursuit of a UW-Eau Claire education.

Through both annual gifts and an estate plan that includes a commitment to the UW-Eau Claire Foundation, Holloway has ensured that his passion for impacting lives in Milwaukee and his pride in UW-Eau Claire come together to make a difference now and into the future.

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PERMACULTURE: A program titled “Roots of Permaculture: An Introduction to Ecologically Designed Gardens,” will be held from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Thursday at the Chippewa Falls Public Library, 105 W. Central St., Chippewa Falls.

Chris Kerrschneider will teach you how to approach your gardening and landscaping projects through the ecologically-based design science of permaculture.

The presentation is free. No registration is required.

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SOILS AND CROPS: Teams from UW-River Falls took second place in the soils competition and fifth place in the crops competition at the annual North American Colleges and Teachers of Agriculture Judging Conference at Murray State University in Murray, Ky.

Soils team member Molly McIlquham of Chippewa Falls also placed third individually.

Sara Behling of Cumberland placed 10th while Brady Goettl of Cadott placed 11th.

The second place UW-River Falls soils team included McIlquham and Ben Pierce of River Falls.

Briar Golden of Arcadia also competed individually.

From staff reports

Contact: 715-833-9207,