Hello good people of the PCA! My name is Don Francis and I’m your new Lead Coordinator. I’ve been working since November but count this as my official introduction.
I was lucky to find this position. It’s part-time… check! I can work from home? Great. That means I can walk the dogs and keep other commitments. Fantastic! For instance, I help with the PTO. Did you know I’ve been serving as the president since 2018? I have also created numerous student yearbooks, organized a bunch of science & invention fairs, and assisted with the annual fundraisers. Just like the PCA, the PTO depends on people volunteering to make things happen, which makes me feel good about joining the PCA.
A little back story: My family traveled to town from Menomonie, WI, during the polar vortex winter of 2013. What a cold welcome to Platteville! My wife Kelly and our two kids moved into our first house here. She started her new job, and I was fine being a stay-at-home dad. Then a part-time job at UWP found me right away. I coordinated the summer camps for six years, and connected with multiple departments on campus, which was a big reason why I met so many people here (including some folks in the PCA).
I first really heard about the PCA when Gene Weber spoke at a Common Council meeting in 2016, and I was amazed at its long journey. It was one of my first meetings serving as an Alderperson for District 1, and it left an impression. Plus, serving on Council connected me to even more Platteville folks.
I still serve on the City’s Parks, Forestry & Recreation committee (a volunteer coach, too), and I also volunteer my time with the PATH (Platteville Arts Trails History) group that puts together events, like the Chalk & Cheese Festival (which is planned for August).
If you see a trend with me volunteering, there’s more! I also serve as a team manager/coach for my daughter’s Power Soccer team. Sure, I grew up with football and own a share of the Packers, but having both kids learn the beautiful game is a great way for them to make friends and learn teamwork. To add to my plate, I also started to help with the trail maintenance out at the Belmont Mound State Park this past year (because only one person was doing it). I had enjoyed hiking around that park for years and saw another opportunity to improve my surroundings. As most of you know, working outdoors for the good of others is a decent addition to one’s life. Plus, I’ll be very eager to tell you how I assisted with a new State Park trail map once the DNR makes it official.
Let’s end with some quick tidbits about me: I’m from Sheboygan. I graduated from Ripon College. I lived in Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Colorado. My kids are in 7th & 4th grades. I like creating art, but I don’t do it enough. My wife works from home but does travel sometimes. We created three gardens at our home: vegetable, butterfly & rain. I like brain teasers and logic puzzles. I’ve been to Italy, New Zealand, and Belize. As an adult, I volunteered as a mascot for two seasons. Since the pandemic, I have found over 500 geocaches (the kids found the 1st on the trail BY ACCIDENT) and plan to hide some on the trail. My UWP class created the painted ceiling in the trail’s gazebo. I’ve been to 28 Packer games. I am one degree away from Kevin Bacon (which makes most of you two degrees away). I can juggle empty grocery bags. We have two dogs.
I look forward to meeting each of you when the weather warms up, and I plan to learn a lot more about the trail this year.