Don Melichar, Park Superintendent/City Forester, is retiring today (4/19/24) after 23 years of service to the City of De Pere. His knowledge and commitment within the De Pere Parks, Recreation & Forestry Department for more than two decades has been a true asset to our community. As our Park Superintendent/City Forester, he has been instrumental in improving the quality of life, urban forests, and park offerings for our community. We appreciate the steadfast diligence and care displayed during his many efforts, we're grateful for his service, and wish him the best in his next chapter in life.

With that said, here are Don’s thoughts, in his own words, regarding his tenure in De Pere:

    When did you first start your role with the City/how long have you worked here?

    My first day as the City’s first City Forester was September 11, 2000.  My role as Park Superintendent began to form shortly after our former Parks Director, Jerry Perkofski, retired and our current Director, Marty Kosobucki, was hired and began his career with De Pere.

    What is your previous career experience/roles before this?

    In college I was fortunate to work with the Kohler Company on their tree care/landscape division building Blackwolf Run Golf Course. What an awesome experience that was for a young person!  After college I went to work for Hendrickson, The Care of Trees in Wheeling, IL.  After almost 2 years of intensive field work and supervisory/sales training, I chose to move back to Neenah, Wisconsin to work for Leid’s Landscape Management as their lead arborist.  After almost 5 years of working there I was fortunate to be offered an arborist position with the City of Appleton.  This position and much of the training (field and more supervisory) I received while with Appleton allowed me the opportunity to apply for and receive this position with De Pere as your first City Forester.  

    What was your reason/inspiration for choosing this career path?

    I actually went to college to be a Game Warden.  All through high school my passion was to work with wolves.  After my first semester at UW Stevens Point and after much discussion and research on available jobs and opportunities, I decided to redirect and shift my focus to Forestry.  This field opened more opportunities and locations for me.  It also allowed me the chance to spend time outdoors, help people understand our environment, and pursue a career opportunity in Wisconsin near my hometown/family.

    What are your most memorable moment(s), favorite things or fondest memories serving in De Pere?  

    There certainly are numerous – in fact, too many to count – but the coolest would have to have been when we partnered with the WDNR to spray different areas of the City to help control Gypsy Moth. The planes flew so low over the trees that you could see the pilot inside the cab!  I would also have to say some of the most memorable times I have had were meeting the residents of the City.  There have been so many memorable people that I have met and hopefully helped on their way to understanding what is best for their trees and landscape plants.

    Any other overall thoughts on your career or items you’d like to touch on (people you’ve worked with, impact on yourself or the City, personal accomplishments, overall thoughts, etc.)

    I was so fortunate to be chosen as your first City Forester (and later as your first Park Superintendent/City Forester)!  At the time it was such an incredible opportunity I was given – it truly changed my life to be able to move to this awesome community and work for such great people.  I have been fortunate to work for and with so many people who have shaped the lives of so many.  I have also been fortunate to have only two Directors.  They both have provided me with so many opportunities and allowed me to grow personally and professionally in my position. I have also been blessed to have such stability in our City leadership – only two Administrators and two Mayors.  They have all performed their jobs for the betterment of the community and not for their own agenda. Not all communities are blessed to have that type of leadership, and I'm grateful. Overall, I look back at my time with De Pere and see how really fortunate I have been to meet, know and work with so many residents, council members, peers, city staff in other departments, our MSC family and especially our team in Parks, Recreation, Community Center and Forestry.  I could never have been as successful as I was, nor enjoyed my time here as much as I have, without all these genuine friends (both active and retired).  I am looking forward to enjoying more time with my wife, my family, my grandpups and our friends.   This extra time will also allow me to camp and travel more.  I will definitely miss all the people I have come to call friends and co-workers, but I am truly looking forward to the next chapter and what it will bring for me.