Colbert heads Park and Rec
Looking for community input in Waupaca
By James Card
Laura Colbert is the new director the Waupaca Parks and Recreation Department. Her first day was July 20.
She is a familiar face in the community.
A Waupaca High School graduate, she left the area to earn two degrees, serve in the military, write a book, and work a few different jobs.
She returned to Waupaca in 2017 to be the principal at the Waupaca Middle School. She worked there until 2021.
Her last position was heading the Waupaca Arts Hub, a nonprofit that provides education in the arts that was launched in the spring of 2021. Her role involved getting new artists and musicians in, coordinating private and group lessons and setting up classes that ranged from improvisation to learning the ukulele.
During this period she also worked as a public speaker and a consultant.
Position fits with goals
“My goal is to be an impactful person that’s going to positively affect the community I live in,” said Colbert. “It seemed like a good fit for my background and work history. With all those things together this seemed like a perfect fit. And I loved working with people.”
She has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in kinesiology and has adaptive certification for working with people with special needs. She had a master’s degree in educational leadership and experiential education from UW-LaCrosse.
When she taught at Madison West High School, she was the challenge and adventure teacher, which involves ropes course, rock climbing, spelunking, camping and other outdoor activities. At this school she later became the dean of students and the academic and career planning coordinator.
Colbert was also the activities director for special needs individuals in Fargo, North Dakota and was a physical education teacher in in Aylesbury, England.
She served in the Army National Guard and was deployed to Baghdad, Iraq, from 2003-04. That experience was material for her book, “Sirens: How to Pee Standing Up—An Alarming Memoir of Combat and Coming Back Home.”
Colbert will be meeting with the board presidents of softball, soccer and baseball to hear their input. In August, she will put out a survey to learn what the community wants for recreation opportunities and their parks.
“I’m interested in hearing from the community so we can move forward in an educated way that will benefit everybody,” said Colbert.
“I’m getting a feel for things,” she said as she waved her hand to a huge pile of documents. “There are piles over there that I need to read and ingest and learn.”
Andrew Whitman, the previous Waupaca Parks and Rec director, accepted a position as the director of the Wisconsin Veterans Memorial Cemetery in King.