A great idea that has long benefited the musky fishery of Wisconsin has just become even better.
The Wisconsin Musky Clubs Alliance, representing 25 member clubs from across the state, has donated $100,000 to create a scholarship endowment fund at the College of Natural Resources at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point for students pursuing a graduate or undergraduate degree in fisheries management.
“We’ve been giving scholarships for about 20 years, up to $5,000 a year,” said Alliance President Larry Slagoski. “Our treasurer, Bob Munsen, suggested we create an endowment fund. What a great idea. This endowment will pay for scholarships for a long, long time.”
Slagoski explained the Alliance prefers to give scholarships to students who are from Wisconsin “because we raised the money in Wisconsin so we want to support students who are from Wisconsin. However, we can give scholarships to someone from another location if it’s appropriate.”
The new endowment will be managed by the UW-Stevens Point Foundation. “They are in total control of it,” Slagoski said. “They pick the students according to our criteria. We do not name the students, and by law we can’t.”
Funds raised for the endowment came from the Alliance’s annual tournament, the National Championship Musky Open held in Eagle River, Wisconsin, each August, as well as through the Alliance’s annual Ranger boat raffle. Additional funds are being raised by a new Musky Clubs Alliance special license plate, from which the Alliance receives $25 for every new plate issued as well as renewals.
Christine Thomas, dean of the College of Natural Resources, says the gift follows a long history of support from the Alliance. “The Alliance has supported numerous scholarships for our fisheries students over the years — a total of 58 awards since 2004 — and many of those students have advanced to successful careers in fisheries management in Wisconsin,” she said.
“This endowment takes their commitment to a new level, ensuring these scholarships will be available in perpetuity, ultimately helping aspiring professionals to preserve and protect our precious fisheries resources.”
The Alliance is the only conservation organization focused solely on protecting and enhancing the muskellunge fishery within the state of Wisconsin. In addition to its fundraising for musky-related projects, activities and scholarships statewide, the Alliance provides an organizational framework for individual clubs to share information and work together. The Alliance consists of independent musky clubs as well as Muskies Inc. chapters.
The fisheries program at the UWSP College of Natural Resources is a national leader, with 164 undergraduate majors and 10 graduate students in 2018. The program also features the Wisconsin Cooperative Fishery Research Unit (state and federal research), Fisheries Analysis Center, Fish Propagation Science Center, Aquatic Bio-monitoring Laboratory, and the Water and Environmental Analysis Laboratory.