Wisconsin Life # 809: Time To Soar

December 16, 2021


It’s time to soar as Wisconsin Life host Angela Fitzgerald visits the International Crane Foundation in Baraboo to learn about their conservation efforts. She talks with Dr. Rich Beilfuss, president and CEO and Kim Smith, chief operating officer to understand the scope of their international impact. Touring the facility, Angela sees species of cranes from around the world and finds out why these ancient birds are so important to the ecosystem.


This episode begins with the story of Ferne Caulker-Bronson, known as “Mama Ferne,” the driving force behind Ko-Thi, an internationally renowned, Milwaukee-based African dance company established fifty-two years ago. Her story is inspired by her African roots, the slave trade and her love for dance. Ferne admits,It was very brave of me to call the company this in the ‘60s. I did that intentionally because ‘Ko’ meaning to go, as to seek, to discover and ‘Thi’ meaning black, the color black.”

Next, we meet Chaya Milchtein who turned a career in the auto repair industry into “Mechanic Shop Femme,” a blog where she could write about her passions, including cars, plus-size fashion, life, love and empowerment. “Taking control of what clothes I want to wear and where I want to wear it and how I want to be portrayed. As an automotive consumer, taking control of what services I want to do and understanding what my next steps are and budgeting for those things,” Milchtein says.

Then, we learn Audrey Hackbarth has a unique nickname: Alpaca Audrey. It started when Audrey was in a serious car accident and her husband bought her a baby alpaca to stay with her in the house. Audrey fell in love. She says, “She was so tiny, and so cute.” Smaller than a llama, alpacas are specifically bred for their fleece. Now with a herd of 50, Audrey and her alpacas are a familiar sight around Wisconsin Rapids.

Finally, we meet a crop duster in Waupun who soars high and low to get the job done. While widely known as “crop dusters,” Damon Reabe explains they’re formally known as “aerial applicators.” He says the idea of being a daredevil simply doesn’t fit. “I’m in a place where all of my thoughts are focused on doing the job. And when that happens, everything else goes away. It’s just a wonderful feeling.”


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