August 3: Dr. James Skibo, WI State Archaeologist, Describes Humbling & Thrilling Discovery, Recovery, and Preservation of 1200 Year-Old Mendota Dugout Canoe

–submitted by Sharyn Alden

James Skibo, PhD. Wisconsin State Archaeologist at the Wisconsin Historical Society, easily mesmerized Rotarians at the August 3 meeting. He described the amazing find in Madison’s Lake Mendota waters, the now world-famous “Mendota Dugout Canoe” discovered underwater last year.

The canoe has been selected as one of the top ten archaeological discoveries in the world in 2021. The largest and oldest boat ever sailed in Wisconsin waters attracted media attention from around the world.

The canoe was found buried in a slope in 27 feet of water about 200 yards offshore near Shorewood Hills.

Tammy Thomson, marine archaeologist for the Wisconsin Historical Society who dives year-round, found the canoe during a pleasure dive. She first thought the 15-foot long dugout canoe looked like a buried stick. During Skibo’s program he showed an underwater photo of Thomson recording the find on her underwater notebook.

The 15 foot-long canoe probably carried two people along with a catch of fish, Fishing artifacts –‘net sinkers’ were found in the boat. Skibo said it likely took hundreds of hours to carve the canoe from the hard wood of a white oak tree. After discovery, the team had only about six weeks before winter set in to figure out to carefully extract the canoe from its resting place. Members of local tribes including the Ho-Chunk Nation, were among those consulted.


On a cold day last November, it took about four hours to bring the intact canoe to shore.

“There were about 100 people on shore clapping and cheering,” said Skibo.”It was a humbling, thrilling experience.”

The canoe will be undergoing preservation efforts in the next two years before eventually going on display.

If you missed our meeting last week, you can watch the video here:

Lynne Sexten Receives Club Service Award – August 3, 2022

–presented by Charles McLimans

I serve on the Member Recognition Committee and am pleased to introduce a member who is receiving a 2022 Rotary Club of Madison Club Service Award.  This recognition is part of our Five Avenues of Service Awards Program which recognizes members for their efforts on behalf of our Rotary club in one of the five avenues of service which are club, community, international, vocational and youth.

Lynne Sexten joined our Rotary Club in 2013 and has been President and CEO of Agrace HospiceCare since 2012.

Lynne served on our club board of directors for a two-year term ending last June 30.  Immediately following her term on our board, she stepped into the role of chairing our Ad-hoc Governance Committee. She spent countless hours, pulling together materials and leading meetings for this group. I was part of the group and saw her leadership skills firsthand.  The end result of this group’s meetings was the development of a succession plan for club president, creation of a conflicts of interest policy and disclosure of conflicts for our board, the creation of a board expectations document as well as the restructuring of our Governance Committee. We are indebted to Lynne Sexten who led the group through this lengthy process over the past year. 

For her dedicated service to help strengthen our Rotary Club, we are presenting Lynne with our 2022 Rotary Club of Madison Club Service Award.  The Club has made a $200 gift in Lynne’s name to The Rotary International Foundation as part of this recognition.

Congratulations, Lynne!

July 27 Rotary Speaker: Gary Maier – Meaning of Major Mounds at Lake Mendota

–submitted by Valerie Renk

Forensic Psychiatrist Dr. Gary Maier worked 31 years at Lake Mendota Health Institute, becoming familiar with the effigy mounds there.  Mounds and effigies (mounds shaped as animals) were created in our area at the highest rate by the Ho-Chunk between 750-1250 AD.  Golfers and the mental health community seem to be protecting them, as there are major groupings at Blackhawk County Club and Mendota. 

There were hundreds of mounds in this area.  Fortunately, many were documented; unfortunately many were grave robbed. 

Our Rotary Club is working with Maier to plan a respectful future visit to the Institute’s mounds. If you’d like to be added to the list for a tour, contact the Rotary office at 608-255-9164 or

If you missed our meeting this week, you can watch it here:

Oscar Mireles Receives 2022 Rotary Club of Madison Youth Service Award

–presented by Joyce Bromley on July 27, 2022

Oscar Mireles (left) pictured here with Club President-Elect Charles McLimans

Each year, our club recognizes up to six members for their service to our Rotary Club in one of the five avenues of service which are club, community, international, vocational or youth service.  Today, I am going to introduce you to a Rotary Club of Madison 2022 Youth Service Award recipient.

Oscar Mireles has been a member of our Rotary Club of Madison for 14 years.  If you know Oscar, you know he is passionate about helping young people realize their educational goals.  He has been Executive Director of Omega School for the past 28 years.  In his role at Omega School, he has helped thousands of young adults earn their GED Certificates. 

For the past seven years, Oscar has served as a member of our Rotary Scholarship Committee.  Each year, he has read over 35 lengthy scholarship application forms, has helped conduct the student interviews and has helped select recipients for our annual four-year college scholarship program.  It requires extensive volunteer time each year, and he did it for seven years.  He didn’t stop there.  Oscar has also mentored several of our Rotary Scholars to help them navigate their college years since most of our scholarship recipients are the first in their families to attend college. Oscar is currently serving as a trustee of our Madison Rotary Foundation as well.

Oscar makes a huge difference in our club and in our community.  For his Service Above Self efforts, the club board of directors has named him as one of our 2022 Rotary Club of Madison Youth Service Award recipients.  The Club has made a $200 gift in Oscar’s name to The Rotary Foundation of Rotary International.

Oscar, we offer our congratulations to you!

July 20: The Power of a Grand Civic Vision: Monona Terrace

–submitted by Ellsworth Brown

Who knew that 115 years ago Madisonian John Olin, believing that Madison was a special place, engaged John Nolen, a preeminent city planner from Cambridge, Massachusetts, to produce a 1911 plan for Madison that became a preeminent example of the urban landscape movement?  And who knew that John Nolen,  author of projects for well over a dozen cities, created plans as well for the Tenney Park-Yahara River Parkway, the UW, and Wisconsin’s state park system?  And especially, who knew that the track of Nolen’s plans affirmed a four-generation vision for Madison that inspired the city, county, state, non-profit organizations and private funding to give us Monona Terrace and leave its traces in a Downtown 2000 Master Plan including 1.7 miles of Lake Monona waterfront, a six-fold increase in the tiff valuation since 1995, a new State Museum, the Overture Center, hotels that will soon double room numbers within two blocks of Monona Terrace, and an affirmed self-confidence in Madison’s common future? 

George Austin knew, and he shared it with us on Wednesday, July 20.  The exceptional attendance at Wednesday’s meeting honored his 23-year career with the city, including 15 years as Planning and Development Director and leader of the Monona Terrace project; and now the Wisconsin History Center’s project manager. 

This is one of Madison’s greatest stories, told to us by the successor to the visions that preceded him.

If you missed our meeting last week, you can watch it here:

July 13: Joe Loehnis & Dr. Bill Banfield: Artistic Citizenry: What Does It Mean to be a Contemporary Artist Today?

–submitted by Jessika Kasten

On July 13, Joe Loehnis and Dr. Bill Banfield spoke to the Club on the topic of Artistic Citizenry: What does it mean to be a contemporary artist today? Dr. Banfield is an award-winning composer who is currently serving a three-year Composer in Residence program with the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra. Dr. Banfield spoke about the important role the arts play in bridging communities by bringing people together and building community. He also previewed the evenings’ Concerts on the Square piece: Testimony of Tone, Tune and Time that was created as a reflection on liberty and inspired by Frederick Douglass.

If you missed our meeting this week, you can watch the video here: