Posted: November 24, 2021
Written by: Lilly Jensen, Education and Outreach Coordinator
Schultz Family Creates Lasting Legacy through Walden Pond Donation
Part 1 of a 2-Part Series
Southeast Winneshiek County has a new outdoor educational facility and space.
The Schultz Family—James (Jim) and Sharon Schultz and their daughters Wendy Schultz and Rebecca and her husband Michael Perez—have donated their family property in rural Castalia to the Winneshiek County Conservation Board.
The 133-acre property will be known as “Walden Pond: Roy and Genevieve Schultz Memorial Outdoor Discovery Area” and includes a 5-acre pond; several miles of hiking trails; a walnut, oak, and maple “sugar bush” woodland; and restrooms and an enclosed picnic shelter for classroom spaces.
“We are incredibly grateful to the Schultz Family for making this gift to Winneshiek County,” says Barbara Schroeder, executive director of Winneshiek County Conservation, “and we are honored to continue the legacy of land stewardship and education, that their family started many years ago, into the future.”
The Schultz family’s connection with Walden Pond extends back to the early 1900s and sharing the joy and beauty of the property with others has always been central to the family’s approach as caretakers of the land.
Roy and Genevieve, parents of donor Jim Schultz, operated a popular retreat and recreational outfitter and started the tradition of hosting pancake breakfasts for hundreds featuring Alaskan sourdough pancakes and maple syrup made from sap from their own trees. Roy and Genevieve’s children—Sally, Alan, and Jim—continued the pancake breakfasts for years and Jim continues to this day the labor-intensive process of making and sharing maple syrup.
Now, the family has solidified that love for Walden Pond by forever sharing it with others.
“Entrusting this special place to Winneshiek County Conservation means that the Schultz Family has ensured that it will be permanently protected for future generations to enjoy,” says Schroeder. “Walden Pond will become a lasting memorial to the conservation legacy of Jim and Sharon, Wendy, Rebecca and Mike, Roy and Genevieve, and all the Schultzes that came with and before them.”
Winneshiek County Conservation staff have begun the work of carrying on as land managers for Walden Pond, learning from Jim the ins and outs of the maple syrup process and beginning the planning process for how Walden Pond will be incorporated into its educational programs.
Through this donation, the Schultzes laid out a vision for Walden Pond serving the community as a place that helps others, especially children, create their own connections to the outdoors and natural places that are so central to the Schultz family. They wish for it to provide opportunities for children and families to immerse themselves in learning about and experiencing nature.
The education staff at Winneshiek County Conservation is up for the task, already planning how they will be able to use the facilities and grounds at Walden Pond to expand the educational programs they offer through public programs, school field trips, and summer camps. Due to the nature of the property donation, Walden Pond will be operated as a reservation-only special use area and will be closed to public hunting and open fishing.
Walden Pond will also create new opportunities not feasible at existing Winneshiek County Conservation properties by providing outdoor space for schools and youth organizations like scouts and 4-H clubs to expand their own offerings.
“Public lands in Winneshiek County are generally clustered in the northern half of the county,” says Schroeder, “so it is particularly exciting that Walden Pond will significantly increase public greenspace and recreational opportunities in the southeast part of the county. We are looking forward to seeing the first group of kids explore this beautiful property. It will be a momentous day and a testimony to the legacy the Schultz family is leaving.”
For more information, please contact Winneshiek County Conservation at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling (563) 534-7145.
Part 2 of this series will cover the history of Walden Pond and the conservation legacy of the Schultz Family.