The Wisconsin Land Information Association is a large group, and we may only interact with each other in person a few times per year. Considering this, our opportunities to make additional connections and network is limited. In an effort to generate some additional discussion among our members, and to let you get to know some of us better, I decided to ask some members a series of questions. Hopefully this will lead to additional conversations between us and or if nothing else, provide some amusement or provoke a little bit of thought.
In the second installment of this concept, I asked Lauree Aulik, the Lafayette County GIS Coordinator/Land Information Officer and Land Information Officer Network (LION) Chair Elect, a handful of questions about work, WLIA membership, and a few curveballs.
Jeremy: Can you tell us about yourself?
Lauree: I share a roof with my hubby, Justin, one too many cats, and a very chubby puggle named Liddy (aka Pupper Pupperton). I enjoy camping and kayaking, experimental cooking, crafting, a good book, educated and informed political discussions, inappropriate comedies, and craft beer…and wine…and cool maps (of course!). Some people may say that I also enjoy the gift of gab.
Jeremy: I can vouch for the gab part. As a result of myself sharing that trait we have gabbed-a-plenty. For our readers, where are you from?
Lauree: I normally answer this as “the middle of nowhere in beautiful Southwest WI”. The actual location depends on if you are looking at zip code, area code, or Google Maps because they will all give you a different answer.
Jeremy: That is how a lot of people describe random places in Southwest Wisconsin, but I feel like it really is somewhere special. Somehow I was drawn to it long before I ever set foot in the area and still am to this day. I know the answer to this but I’ll ask, where did you go for your degree?
Lauree: University of Wisconsin – La Crosse
Jeremy: How long have you been in your current position with Lafayette County?
Lauree: Approximately 3 ½ years.
Jeremy: It doesn’t seem like it was that long ago that you were working next door to me in Jackson County, and I know that you have prior experience in another rural county, Allamakee in Northeast Iowa as well. Are there significant parallels between the three counties besides the obvious fact that they are rural?
Lauree: You mean besides the fact that every time I start in a rural county I think “Why do I do this to myself”? LOL! Honestly, this could be a really long answer but I will keep it short. The obvious is limited resources and education. At the same time, because they are so rural, the feeling of “community” seems to be more prevalent which is very refreshing.
Jeremy: Do you feel that working in rural counties in the past helped you transition into your current position easier than if you hadn’t?
Lauree: Absolutely. You know going in that resources may be limited, technology will most likely be significantly behind, and education levels are going to be scattered across the board. At the same time, you always know what you are doing can significantly benefit the community you are in – probably even more so than a larger County – so the first thing you need to do is find a champion.
Jeremy: What kind of work are you currently focusing on in Lafayette County?
Lauree: The beauty of GIS is that you get to dabble in a little bit of everything, right? You get your left and ride sides of your brain firing away. Some days I have my fingers in way too many pots, but I get really excited about making government more efficient and public information more accessible via some sort of attractive application or map. If I find out a department has a need that I think geospatial technology might help, I make sure to offer them assistance. Lately, I’ve been spending a lot of energy on just getting departments to work together and to take advantage of some of the tools that are already available to them.
Jeremy: I have always tried to keep the horse in front of the cart, but lately I have begun working on multiple projects at once out of necessity. It is exciting to start something new but it can really start to stretch you out and you have to become increasingly efficient in managing your time and prioritization. I touched on some of your recent past employment, but what was your favorite or first job from High School or College and did it help prepare you for your current role?
Lauree: I worked at Blackhawk Lake Recreation Area for several years between high school and early college. I spent the days mowing lawn, trimming trails, or chatting with campers. I made the actual schedule for the summer employees, so some days I got to work inside and some days outside. We all worked really well together as a team, and we were often rewarded for working so hard. I can say I definitely learned a lot of “people person” skills that I carried forward to future positions. Come to think of it, angry campers might be scarier than angry land owners.
Jeremy: Very interesting you mention angry campers and that reminds me of the Jim Gaffigan bit that refers to the happy camper. I camped at Blackhawk once around 2004 with my college friends back when I was working in Iowa County where it is located. I recall the weekend went by way too quick, that I caught nothing on the Lake, it was very humid and hot, and worst of all everyone went to bed too early. I think we left early the next day before it started to rain. You know I was not a happy camper that weekend. Switching gears what is your favorite thing about being a member of the WLIA?
Lauree: My favorite things about WLIA are all the great people that you get to meet and the numerous educational opportunities available. I have never left a WLIA event without having learned something different and without striking up a conversation with someone new.
Jeremy: What advice would you give to a brand new member of the WLIA?
Lauree: Take advantage of networking opportunities and make a point to talk to someone new. You will find that you may learn more socializing with other members. Don’t be afraid to ask questions.
Jeremy: Time for some fun ones you said you like experimental cooking so what is your favorite food?
Lauree: Pizza? Tacos? Taco pizza? Mmmm…actually maybe I will just go with cheese. Not that experimental, but you really can’t beat the classics.
Jeremy: What is your favorite dessert?
Lauree: Cheese-see above-Cake.
Jeremy: Lets shift gears a bit, what was your favorite game when you grew up?
Lauree: Monopoly or Euchre.
Jeremy: Mine were Trouble or Uno. What was the first record, tape, 8-track or CD that you ever owned?
Lauree: I’m not sure on the music, but I do know my first DVD was ‘The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly”
Jeremy: I am a fan of the Spaghetti Westerns, especially the Man with No Name trilogy starring Clint Eastwood. Good choice. So what did you want to be when you grew up?
Lauree: Indiana Jones (I still do)
Jeremy: Interesting. I think that may explain why you like camping and kayaking. If you could be any cartoon character who or what would you be? Why?
Lauree: Carmen Sandiego. I mean she got to travel all over the world.
Jeremy: That would be pretty sweet I guess, but if I were Carmen Sandiego and I had to travel the world listening to the a capella style theme song to that show Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego? I would retire from travelling altogether. Two truths and a lie (in no particular order)?
Lauree: Even though I’ve lived in three states, I’ve never left the Driftless Area.
I really love Brussel sprouts.
I have picked up a hitchhiker, been skydiving, and cave rafting, but none of those things are scary to me compared to the possibility of the Vikings making the Super Bowl.
I would like to thank Lauree for taking some of her free time to answer some questions as I know that she is very busy. She will make a fine Land Information Officer Network Chair when she takes over for Brett Budrow of St. Croix County next year. Lauree had some good advice for any new county employees out there, find your champion. I have asked Lauree to pick the next WLIA member for our third installment of this feature. For now that individual will remain a mystery. I hope if you read this you enjoyed it and feel free to offer some feedback.
Founded in 1987, WLIA is a grassroots organization representing a collection of concerned professionals working to develop, maintain, and apply a network of statewide land information systems.
We are united by an interest in land records modernization, GIS, and related technologies, and by the need for government policies and programs that support their efficient and effective application.