AROW Awards - 2021

2020 Award Recipients

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Angie Lemar

Angie Lemar is a kind soul, with a smile that lights up a room and her hugs warm the heart. She sees the world in shades of all that is possible. And for past decade, as a steadfast team member for Recycling Connections, has dedicated her career to environmental education, sustainable waste management practices, recycling, and composting. 


As a team member for Recycling Connections Angie has been a pillar of support for AROW, AROW’s committees and all of its members. If there was a dime for every time someone asked, “Let’s ask Angie if…” or “I know Angie has been working on this…” or “Angie will take care of getting this done…”, the organization would be rich. When she announced she would be moving on to a new phase of her life, we all sort of dropped our collective jaws and thought, “who will do all that Angie has been doing?!” 


The networks she has helped build, the ideas she played a role in bringing to life and the critical questions she posed to ensure AROW stayed focused on service to customers and success of the organization is why Angie is an ideal candidate for the 2020 Christy Dixon Recycler of the Year.

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Amanda Haffele

Amanda Haffele is eager to help educate including during a waste audit in the Village of Weston. She was very enthusiastic about participating and it was an eye-opener to all those involved about things we saw in the carts that were allowed, but in fact weren’t recyclable. She explained the reasons in a clear way that made sense, along with providing many visuals.

Amanda was available anytime the Village of Weston ahs questions about whether something is recyclable or not and always happy to reply with answers.

During the AROW Committee Meetings, Amanda is very active and always coming up with very creative and fun ideas for projects. She is a great asset to AROW and should be recognized for all her efforts!


Valerie Parker

Valerie Parker is relentless in trying to solve the recycling and reuse puzzles.


Here are just a few of Valerie’s initiatives: 

  • Valerie has been key in creating a very user-friendly waste reduction and recycling resource page on the Village’s website.

  • When the Village started their single-stream program, Valerie worked with a local marketing company to develop a video to help residents easily transition to the new program.

  • Valerie started the Village’s America Recycles Day/Week event. The program includes a collaboration with Advanced Disposal and Marathon County Solid Waste, where route drivers conduct an evaluation of residential recycling bins. Households that are recycling right are eligible for a number of prizes, including a television. The results of the program help inform how to adjust recycling education efforts.

  • In addition to the America Recycles event, Valerie also conducts a waste audit annually. She partners with Advanced Disposal and the Marathon County Solid Waste Department. Bright and early each day for a week, Valerie and a team of interns inspect both recycling and garbage bins.Households who fail the audit are sent reminders about what goes in the recycling bin and what doesn’t. This too is used to inform recycling education efforts.

  • Without Valerie’s dedication to waste reduction, the Village never would have hosted annual composting workshops and events. These events are now a regular part of the summer schedule at the farmers market.

  • Valerie is now working with AROW’s Communications, Education, and Marketing Committee and has working on tackling the perennial challenge of recycling at multi-family locations.

  • Valerie has mapped out a program to divert food waste from the landfill. She is working with the Marathon County Solid Waste Department, Recycling Connections, and Hsu’s Compost & Soils to establish a drop off program for residential waste food and food scraps. She is working with a sound program framework that will not break the budget and will provide great gain for residents who wish to compost, but don’t want to do it on their own.


Valerie is the driving force for all things waste reduction, reuse, and recycling in the Village of Weston.  Without her, these programs would have never existed or would have been implemented in a half-hearted manner. She exemplifies what it means to be an individual who has “excelled with their recycling program.” 


Festival Foods

Festival Foods and Hilltopper Refuse and Recycling teamed up to bring organics collection to La Crosse County in August 2019. To get the program off the ground, Festival Foods was willing to be the “guinea pig” for Hilltopper. Cody Sandahl, the Energy & Material Recovery Manager, noticed that a large amount of food material was being throw into the trash at the four store locations in La Crosse County, so the program fit exactly what they were looking for. The organics collection program also fits right in with Festival Foods’ values as a company as their push for sustainability increases.

Festival Foods understood that the program was going to start out quite pricey with minimal organizations on the collection route. Festival Foods was confident in Hilltopper’s ability to grow the program, which would help bring down the cost of service in the future. 

Festival Foods uses educational packets, signage and other pieces to help spread awareness/knowledge of the organics program to their current staff and future staff when appropriate. Capital investments (e.g. rolling carts, collection containers) have been purchased to ensure the program runs efficiently.

In just under 3 months, the four store locations in La Crosse County have diverted roughly 33.5 tons of organic material from their trash and the material has been taken down to a local composter. The Onalaska location is filling a 4YD container (approx. 4,000 lbs.) with just organic material is just 2 days.

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Chelsea Huckbody

Chelsea has been highly with recycling and solid waste activities throughout her college experience at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, along with her geographical studies. She is an excellent student, dedicated worker, and a creative mind that works towards promoting waste reduction, reuse, and recycling.

Over the years, Chelsea has been involved with and made many connections in the solid waste and recycling discipline through her various projects, internships, and extra circular activities. A few of those activities and accomplishments include:

  • High Honors, Highest Honors, College of Natural Resources Deans List

  • College of Letters and Science Dean’s Distinguished Achievement Award

  • Waste 485 project with Recycling Connections

  • Internship with the Village of Weston

  • An AROW Emerging Leader

  • Waste Management Society President and Vice President

  • National Student Exchange Program with the University Alaska- Fairbanks

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Taylor Kohlwey

Taylor Kohlwey, a southwest Wisconsin native, was drafted by the San Diego Padres in the 21st round of the 2016 MLB Draft out of UW-La Crosse. In 2019, Taylor was promoted to AAA El Paso towards the end of the year where he appeared in 11 games.

For three-quarters of the year, Taylor is playing professional baseball. Most players do not engage themselves with other work/jobs when they are on break from baseball. However, Taylor enjoys staying busy and involves himself with environmental work. When not playing baseball, Taylor assists Hilltopper Refuse and Recycling with their Special Event Recycling program, Recycling and Waste Audits and other special recycling projects.

  • Special Event Recycling – In 2018 & 2019, Taylor assisted with events such as: Oktoberfest, Maple Leaf Parade and a few others. Taylor was responsible for working with setting up recycling containers at events, cleanup recycling post event, placing full bags of recycling in designated containers, event organizer engagement/education, etc.

  • Recycling/Waste Audits – Hilltopper has been working closely with Trane Company on a Recycling/Waste Audit at their campus in La Crosse. During this project, Taylor assisted Hilltopper with the implementation of single stream recycling throughout their plants and offices.

  • Other Recycling Projects – Taylor has also assisted Hilltopper with Recycling Events that have been put on at local businesses. Taylor assisted with the collection, sorting and spreading education of e-waste, appliances and other items over the past few years. He has also assisted with public outreach programs throughout the La Crosse community.


  • Awards will recognize a person, company or government entity for recycling initiatives undertaken in the previous calendar year.

  • An individual/program does not need to be an AROW member, but they must be nominated by an AROW member to qualify for an award. (Student award nominees excluded.)

  • CLICK HERE for more details and the 2021 Nomination Form!  DEADLINE:  January 18, 2021

AROW Awards Descriptions

Christy Dixon Recycler of the Year: 

  • An individual whose career demonstrates the highest professional standards in the recycling field (includes reuse and composting). Applicant may be from the public, private, or nonprofit sector.

  • NOTE: if a person has already received this award they are not eligible to receive the award a second time.

Outstanding Achievement in Education

  • An individual or group that has excelled in environmental education, specifically related to solid waste and recycling.  Applicant may be from the public, private or nonprofit sector.

Outstanding Achievement in Recycling

  • An individual or group that has excelled with their recycling program.  Applicant may be from the public, private or nonprofit sector.

Outstanding Achievement in Waste Reduction and Recycling - Student

  • An individual that has excelled with their overall activities, or a specific project, supporting waste reduction, sustainability, recycling, and/or organics management. Applicant must be a student of higher education or recent graduate.

Certificate of Recognition for Outstanding Achievement in Recycling – 
Youth Emerging Leader

  • A youth that has excelled with their overall activities, or a specific project, supporting waste reduction, sustainability, recycling, and/or organics management. Applicant must be a K-12 student.

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