…expanding “ECO U” beyond the campus and into his own life.
In the late 1960s and early 1970s, UWGB earned the nickname “ECO U” for its focus on environmental research and sustainability, and perhaps no UWGB graduate has embraced his alma mater’s early moniker more than David Muench.
As an undergrad, David enjoyed the Shorewood Club, intramural ping-pong tournaments at Deckner, and Phoenix basketball games at the arena, but his coursework and later master’s degree was rooted in environment research and studies of the natural world. And David says his UWGB transformation was natural, of course.
“In graduate school, I became interested in wetlands through Bud Harris and devoted much time to the subject,” David explains. “I studied federal and state legislation as it related to wetlands and wetland management and became fascinated with the function of wetlands and their benefit to the environment.”
However, even after leaving the UWGB campus, David says that his appreciation for the natural world has only increased.
“Wetlands and the environment have stayed with me through my UW-Extension career and afterward, and I was able to work wetlands into the job and outside interests, including bringing wetland education to youth in southwest Wisconsin,” David asserts.
Adding to these accomplishments, David also brought his interest in wetland education to east-central Wisconsin in an Extension appointment in Outagamie County, where he expanded his wetland education programs to three sessions with props and facilitated dozens of programs over the years.
After his time at the Extension came to a close, just like a Phoenix, David rose to the occasion again and immersed himself in environmental outreach studies.
“After retiring from Extension, I learned about an opportunity to participate in a long-term study called the Great Lakes Marsh Monitoring Program,” David explains. “One aspect which interested me was monitoring frog populations, and I spent the next ten years counting frogs by listening for their sounds at a site near Shiocton. This has expanded to helping start a DNR frog counting program at Northeastern Wisconsin Land Trust.”
Emphasizing his dedication to the natural world surrounding him, David has taken his professional and academic interests and carried them into his personal life.
“When my wife and I were looking for some property on which to build a second/vacation home, the site we chose had a small wetland,” David says. “She appreciates wetlands–and frogs–as much as I do. It is an important part of our property, not only for us but for visitors. I built a boardwalk through the wetland to more closely observe the activity that goes on. I hope to instill the interest in wetlands in my grandkids.”
And David’s efforts have not only helped his immediate family and his environment, but his extended family, too.
“When my in-laws farm was threatened financially during a bad agricultural economy, I encouraged them to participate in some available federal programs which constructed wetlands and woodlands out of some lowlands they have,” David asserts. “Thirty years later, the area is productive in trees and wildlife and the nearby Branch River no longer receives tons of soil runoff from the continuous corn previously occupying the site.”
Today, David stays connected with ECO U by partnering with several professors on campus for community projects involving the environment, but has also served the Alumni Association and the Alumni Board for fourteen years over four decades. So if current Phoenix are walking the Cofrin Arboretum, listening attentively to the sound of nature that surrounds them, David Muench is probably listening, too.
Name: David Muench
Grad Year: 1972, 1979
Major: Regional Analysis, Natural Resources Management
We’ve asked alumni to either share stories of how their lives were transformed by the UWGB experience or how they are making the world a better place with transformational work in their careers, homes, or volunteer experiences. As UWGB celebrates its 50th Anniversary, meet an alum each week who has experienced a “UW-Green Bay Transformation.” Stories were self-submitted and then edited by Zachary Taylor, a 2010 English Education graduate currently serving as Interim Associate Director of the Phuture Phoenix program.