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A chicken foraging amongst the early spring blooms
Photo: Kelly Saran/ PBS Wisconsin Producer

This week, we're sharing stories all about mothers, memories, and makers from across the state.

First, a mother who is redefining what it means to be a role model for her children. Next, we meet the leader of a camp designed to help build self-confidence and awareness for girls in the trades.

We remember the life and disappearance of Rae Elaine Tourtillott, a Menominee tribal member, who went missing during the fall of 1986. Then, we share a couple who have continued the age-old tradition of spinning wool with a vintage woolen mill. 

Finally, WHYsconsin explains how the county with the strangest is the shape that it is.

We hope you have a good week,

-The "Wisconsin Life" Team

"It’s a rare thing to get a glimpse of yourself from the outside. A brief moment when you see yourself — all of your hard work, love, devotion, the sacrifices and sleepless nights and rushed mornings — through your kids' eyes and think, 'I’m a pretty freakin’ awesome mom! I should write a book or a blog and share my awesomeness with the masses.'” 

Well Takeyla Benton, this is not one of those times. Benton has always tried to be strong for her kids.  But, the Madison storyteller wonders if that has come at a price.

Young Women Learn Building Trades In
Week-Long Camp Run by Madison Carpenter

When Sandy Thistle was growing up, there was one thing for sure she knew she wanted to do. Not hate her job.

Thistle is the co-program director for Madison College’s construction and remodeling program. She’s been a professional carpenter for years, working on several iconic structures in Madison, including the Monona Terrace Community and Convention Center, and she runs a week long camp where she teaches young woman how to work in her trade.

Menominee tribal member Rae Elaine Tourtillott was 18 when she went missing on the tribe’s reservation during the fall of 1986. Her remains were found the following spring. The case remains unsolved and no arrests have been made in connection with her murder. The FBI and Menominee Tribal Police are still seeking information on her death.

Tourtillott’s daughter, Alysse Arce, and cousin, Andrea Lemke-Rochon, sat down to talk about her with WPR’s Danielle Kaeding.

Valders Couple Raise Coopworth Long
Wool Sheep, Run 1920s Woolen Mill

Nestled in a valley by Valders is the Hidden Valley Farm & Woolen Mill. 550 head of sheep and lambs call Hidden Valley Farm their home.

Carol Wagner explains how it all got started. She read an article about how the Coopworth sheep’s wool was wonderful for hand spinning. “So, of course, I had to get one,” she says. “We started out with one sheep and, you know, one sheep leads to another sheep, which leads to another and here we are at multiple sheep.”

Anyone looking at a county map of Wisconsin will see shapes that mostly make sense - squares and rectangles with the occasional squiggly lines from rivers. But Pepin County catches the eye with its square root symbol-like shape.

This is what prompted Joe Hackbarth of La Crosse to ask the WHYsconsin team, "Why does it exist?"

This newsletter was sent to <<Email Address>>. Wisconsin Life is a co-production of Wisconsin Public Radio and PBS Wisconsin.

Funding for Wisconsin Life comes from Alliant Energy, Lowell and Mary Peterson, the Wisconsin Humanities Council, and the Friends of Wisconsin Public Television. For questions or comments about Wisconsin Life, please use our contact form.

© 2021 Wisconsin Public Radio and PBS Wisconsin, services of the Educational Communications Board and The University of Wisconsin-Madison 

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