Beckman cleanup

About 40 Blackhawk Technical College students volunteered to help with cleanup at Beckman Mill County Park on Friday. BTC formed a partnership with Rock County Parks as part of the students’ volunteer requirements. Pictured from left are Emily Decker and Kelly Gransee, both students in the BTC radiology program who helped rake and haul mulch.

BELOIT—It’s that time of year again when fun in the sun often means a visit to the local parks. But parks don’t just clean-up themselves and suddenly become ready for public use.

Beckman Mill County Park is no exception.

With that in mind, roughly 40 Blackhawk Technical College students from the radiology program volunteered to help out on Friday.

The students worked at the park, located 6 miles west of Beloit, as part of a volunteer requirement for the program.

Some hauled fresh mulch in wheelbarrows to the playground area. Others worked out in the oak savanna portions of the park cutting back and pruning unwanted growth, clearing the hiking rails and wetland areas.

The students were there as a result of a partnership between BTC and the Rock County Parks system. Volunteering the students came about as a suggestion made by Friends of Beckman Mill longtime member Sheri Disrud.

“My granddaughter was a student in the radiology department at BTC a couple years ago and she called me up and needed to find a place to volunteer,” Disrud said.

Disrud brought the idea forward about volunteering at the park and from there the county and college partnership was begun.

Amy Friend, Rock County Parks Community Coordinator, also was working at the park on Friday.

“I work with the Friends group and with Sheri,” she said.

“The park is a beautiful place, but without volunteers the park would be nothing,” Friend said.

Scott Steurer, volunteer oak savanna manager, said he was pleased with the turnout and the work that was underway on Friday.

“The volunteers are very organized,” he said.

Cleaning up the excess growth will help make the park walking paths ready for people to come out and enjoy, he said.

“We want to get things going again out here with hikes and programs,” he said.

“This park is still such a hidden gem.”

While the park is open to the public, the Beckman Mill is still not open for tours presently, Disrud said.

The scenic park is located about seven miles west of Beloit on County Road H and contains 52 acres featuring oak woods, an oak savanna, wetlands, a heritage garden and a large lawn area for picnics and events.

A reconstructed dam in Raccoon Creek creates a mill pond and a fishing location. The Thomas G Kautz Nature Trail includes a savanna trail, a boardwalk across native wetlands, and a forested hiking trail.

Amenities at the park include: A picnic shelter with 12 tables and electricity, other picnic tables scattered throughout the park, nature trails, heritage garden, accessible fishing pier, covered bridge, sawmill display, restrooms, drinking water, and cooking grills.

The area also is still available for weddings. Those who plan weddings there can provide a donation to the Friends group for use of the covered bridge area near the historic mill structure. Those who want to use the park pavilion for a reception can rent it from the county.

For more information about the park, contact Disrud at: jsdisrud@jmail.com.