Kaufmann surveyed Shorewood residents for historic preservation project

Portrait of Sam Kaufmann

Sam Kaufmann’s interest in history began at an early age. “I am a sixth-generation resident of Waunakee and have always had fairly easy access to our family’s history because it is ingrained in many aspects of my life,” says the public policy certificate student. “I volunteered to photograph all the local cemeteries and mark the stones with GPS coordinates, all of which are available online. I like conducting research on genealogy and putting tricky puzzle pieces of familial relationships together.”

Kaufmann found the perfect opportunity to get hands-on experience with historic preservation through the UniverCity Alliance Scholars Program, which gives selected students the chance to work on projects that support local governments across Wisconsin. He recently worked with the UniverCity Alliance program to conduct a survey in Shorewood, Wisconsin focused on efforts for continuing historic preservation in the village. Kaufmann was first introduced to the program as a trustee on the Waunakee Village Board, where he witnessed many projects completed through UniverCity Alliance classes. When he learned of the opportunity to complete an independent project through the organization, he was eager to participate.

The results of the survey found that overall, Shorewood residents had a vested interest in pursuing historic preservation in the village, and that they had many different ideas of how to do so. Kaufmann found that there was a strong desire within the community for additional educational programming on existing policies and programs to address the lack of understanding of how these policies functioned within village government. Because of these findings, Shorewood plans to collaborate with the town’s Historical Society on a community lecture series over the course of the 2024-25 school year.

Kaufmann has always been interested in doing public sector policy work, and the UniverCity Project reaffirmed that interest. “UniverCity definitely helped me in my La Follette work because my knowledge was limited to a few select communities previously,” he says. “By working with a municipality in another region of the state, I was able to broaden my perspective significantly.”

According to Kaufmann, the work he did with UniverCity has been a great real-world project to add to his portfolio and is an excellent parallel to a future career in a local government setting. “I had the chance to collaborate on a regular basis with municipal staff, elected officials, and community stakeholders,” he says. One of Kaufmann’s favorite memories was the opportunity to visit Shorewood one warm fall day at the start of his project, meeting village staff, community members, and members of the Historical Society. “I obtained ideas on how to proceed from my visit more than anything else I did, as I was able to get to know Shorewood and understand its needs better,” notes Kaufmann.

“I would absolutely encourage other students to participate in the UniverCity program,” Kaufmann says. “If you maximize your efforts, it’s about as close as you can get to a paid local government internship during a semester while having the unique ability to focus on a single project.” Kaufmann plans to further his policy education by completing the La Follette School’s accelerated MPA program.

“We know that students want hands-on learning experiences,” UniverCity Alliance managing director Gavin Luter said. “We hope the UniverCity Alliance joins a growing chorus of on-campus groups, like La Follette, calling for more community-engaged projects. Sam’s experience shows the value a student can gain when they apply their unique background and skills to a community-defined project. I also hope Sam can motivate other college students to directly participate in local government!”

– Story by Clare Brogan

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