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camEos By BrittaNy Jordt

PSteppin’ In

elli Bruns stepped into the top job at Peninsula State Park on September 1, 2011, filling the

position that had been occupied by two interim superintendents since the retire- ment of longtime Superintendent Tom Blackwood at the end of 2009.

Bruns comes to Peninsula with a duel

degree in forest recreation and forest management from UW Stevens Point. Since 2003 she has cut her teeth with stints at Kettle Moraine Northern Unit, Kohler-Andrae, and Willow River state parks.

I sat down with Bruns to chat about

the challenges and benefits of working at one of Wisconsin’s favorite parks shortly after she settled into her new position.

Brittany Jordt (BJ): Your mom’s

from Newfoundland, but you grew up and went to school in Wisconsin, cor- rect?

Kelli Bruns (KB): I grew up with a

lot of my summers in Canada. I loved spending time up in the North Atlantic. I’m a native of Wisconsin, though; I was born and raised in Sheboygan.

BJ: Would you say visiting the North

Atlantic is where your passion for the outdoors began?

KB: Tat was definitely the start of

my love for the outdoors. I knew I was going to go through my life with some kind of an understanding or commit- ment to providing stewardship to our resources. Tat’s how I went down the path of resource management. I’m very

58 Door County Living Winter 2011/2012

eninsula State Park’s New Superintendent Kelli Bruns

fond of outdoor recreation while pre- serving the resource. When I started working for the state park system, I felt like I really found my niche and it was where I belonged. I’ve always been a ‘park person.’ I feel like this is where I need to be, and where I do my best work.

BJ: What made you apply for the su- perintendent position at Peninsula State Park?

KB: I really missed this side of the

state and have loved Door County and the peninsula for years and years. My husband and I had our first date at the Peninsula State Park Golf Course and were married up here in Sister Bay. We’re thrilled and happy to be back here and ready to move Peninsula into the future.

BJ: So far, how does Peninsula differ

from your other experiences? KB: Peninsula’s unique because we

have a lot of different amenities here that some other state parks don’t have: the golf course, the lighthouse, and American Folklore Teatre [AFT]. Tey are definitely above and beyond what you would see in a normal state park set- ting, but they fit – they’ve been here for years and they’re great entities.

BJ: What are your expectations

working as the superintendent at such a busy park?

KB: It’s one of our most beloved

parks in the system, so there’s definitely been discussions on how we can pre- serve the resource and still meet the high

expectations for people who come in for recreation. With a lower operating bud- get we’ve got to do some problem solv- ing to provide that high caliber service to the public.

BJ: Our little towns are so dependent

on having people coming to recreate in the park and then going to shop or eat at our local businesses.

KB: Absolutely. We want to continue

to bring visitors and support the econo- my in the Door County area. Tat’s re- ally important for all the state parks. Te resource is the reason that we’re here, and the reason that people come here. What can we do to make sure we’re tak- ing a good look at preserving the park for future generations? Tat’s really my main charge.

BJ: What are some things you’ve

learned so far about the way the park operates?

KB: Any time you shift from one

park to the next there’s always a learning process about how things are done. I was able to see the last AFT show before the season ended, which was something I’d never done. I got a feel for how impor- tant that niche is. I went over to the Eagle Bluff Lighthouse, to see how that’s run- ning. I’m just really trying to get to know the park and the property, and how all the different functions work together.

BJ: Peninsula State Park has a history

that’s deeply rooted in the culture of Door County. How does that compare to other parks?

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