What Can An OFS Conservation Crew Do For You?
Consider the conservation or community development projects that you need done. Our Eligible Activities List should give you some good ideas, but in general, a good OFS project is one that:

  • Provides long-term conservation benefits, provides or enhances highly desirable natural, recreational, historical, or endangered resources, and benefits a variety of user groups.
  • Provides a diversity of meaningful, labor-intensive work activities, including quality inclement weather work, and does not involve routine, low productivity work.
  • Provides a diversity of skills and training which, in combination with the work activities, have the potential to give corps members a feeling of pride and continuing accomplishment.

OFS Expands Into Year-Round Conservation and Community Development Work
For over 20 years, Operation Fresh Start’s seasonal conservation crews have contributed to the restoration of valuable environmental lands and the stewardship of city and county conservation parks.┬áStarting in September, 2010, OFS Pathways crews extended┬áto include three year-round conservation crews. Crew members, working in teams of 6 to 8 under the direct, daily supervision of a trained OFS supervisor, complete meaningful, labor intensive conservation and community development work projects on public lands in South Central Wisconsin throughout the year.

Aquatic plant protective enclosure at Cherokee Marsh

The agencies and organizations which OFS serves are called “project sponsors.” Almost all units of government and non-profit organizations are eligible, including school districts, lake associations, environmental groups, historical societies, civic organizations, divisions of local government, many sporting clubs, and more. While project sponsors provide materials and a funding match, OFS provides almost all labor, equipment, and transportation-related costs. Fresh Start’s goal is to provide a topnotch community resource and youth development service to as many project sponsors and young adults as possible. It’s a cost effective investment in your community’s natural and human resources that yields many short- and long-term benefits. 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
  • Silverwood Farm Park

For more information, contact the Construction and Conservation Manager, Eddie Sherman, at 608-244-4721 or by email at