OFS Legacy Program participants work on either construction or conservation crews.

An OFS Legacy conservation participant will:

  • Restore and maintain important native habitats in natural areas around Madison and beyond.
  • Build and maintain city and county parks and trails for use by all community members.
  • Receive training (regardless of prior experience) in the skills necessary to do the job well. Skills include use of hand and power tools as well as identifying native and invasive plants.
  • Learn essential employability skills:
    • reliability,
    • effective communication,
    • collaboration,
    • creative problem-solving, and
    • self-confidence.
  • Work in all-types of weather: cold, rain, heat, as well as in buggy conditions.

The parks and natural areas where OFS Legacy crews work stand as the lasting legacy of each participant. Over the years, OFS has built and maintained hundreds of miles of trail, built boardwalks and bridges, and restored important habitats for native plants and animals. Schoolchildren from around the area study biology using the boardwalk our participants built at Cherokee Marsh and Edna Taylor Conservation Park.


  • OSHA Certification
  • Pre-Apprenticeship Readiness Training credential
  • First-Aid/CPR certification


Examples of our Conservation Crews at Work

Aquatic plant protective enclosure at Cherokee Marsh

Operation Fresh Start has had a long-term relationship with the City of Madison Parks’ Conservation Section as well as Dane County Parks. The goal of Madison’s 14 conservation parks is to restore native plant and animal communities while providing education areas and opportunities for everyone. Projects accomplished in the last few years by OFS crews include:

  • Cherokee Marsh, Dane Co.’s largest wetland – for the last ten years, OFS crews have been involved in an ongoing wetland restoration project. Crews have also built or repaired several boardwalks and bridges.
  • Owen Conservation Park – planting of aquatic plants in, and native prairie plants, trees, and shrubs around, three newly created stormwater retention/wildlife ponds. Crews have also made significant improvements to many of the parks hiking trails.
  • Kettle Pond, a small “kettle hole” left by the retreating glacier 10,000 years ago – removal of exotic trees and shrubs allowing for oak regeneration and wildflower growth, and planting of native trees, shrubs, and wildflowers.
  • Riverland Conservancy’s Merrimac Preserve
  • Swamp Lover’s Inc.
  • Heartland Farm Sanctuary