The Green Lake Association recently won a new Land Rover Defender for its commitment to protecting the environment in the greater Green Lake County area.
The group said the competition was a long shot, and they have their community to thank.
NBC 26 Today's MacLeod Hageman had the opportunity to discover Green Lake and learn more about the community's commitment to keeping the area clean and desirable for visitors throughout the year, and he also had the chance to learn more about the Defender Service Award and why it's so unique.
A quiet, clean spot to fish and relax is something many people take for granted, and even the nearby wildlife can be thankful for the Green Lake Association's commitment to protecting the environment and improving water quality.
Until recently, the non-profit group relied on personal vehicles and volunteers to visit remote areas to gather water samples and test the soil. The association also had to rely on volunteers to help tow kayaks and the group's donated boat. So, the new Land Rover allows members to be much more versatile and get to where they need to be.
"We were up against some really large non-profits, which was kind of nerve-wracking just thinking about the kind of networking and reach that they have in their organizations," Green Lake Association Watershed Engagement Manager Taylor Haag said.
Haag said she was stunned when she first learned about the news.
"Taking that phone call was just kind of jaw-dropping and just stuck your feet to the floor and not knowing what to do," Haag said.
Executive Director Stephanie Prellwitz said simply having a vehicle that's able to tow equipment and drive through rough terrain will be life-changing.
"The first time I sat in the Land Rover, it was like taking a 4x4 and sliding it over a stick of butter. It's solid, it's smooth, and it's really amazing to have this resource for our organization," Prellwitz said.
Most vehicles come equipped with some sort of back-up camera, but the Land Rover Defender offers a 360-bird's eye view at all times. GSA leaders say it allows them to have a better view of their surroundings when they're driving through water or rocky terrain, which makes it safer to get where they need to be to do their job.
"And, then switching it to off-road, it has the capabilities of just turning on the cameras above the tires. So, if you're on a road that has a crevice, you can line up your tires exactly down a hole," Haag said.
"So, even from a fundamental level, being an organization that works on behalf of the lake who can now access the lake is a total game changer for us," Prellwitz said.
"The lake is an emblem, not just for our organization but for the community. It's a sense of pride for people. So, to be able to see the lake on the side of a vehicle like this while you're driving down, it's a topic of communication for people, but it's also a sense of pride for our community," Haag said.
Both Haag and Prellwitz say they're excited about the work they'll be able to get done with the new Land Rover, and they're looking forward to seeing what it can do.
Lastly, they want to thank the Green Lake community for its continued support, because they would not have been able to win the Land Rover without the community's help.