The current class of cadets with the Wisconsin Challenge Academy, a Fort McCoy tenant organization, have been working for weeks to improve areas around the installation through grounds beautification, and more.Training Officer Ken Moninski with the Challenge Academy discussed some of the work the cadets have been doing through late summer and early fall on post.“The cadets spread wood chips on the hiking trails at Pine View Campground, and they weeded and dug out the green space between the Fort McCoy Commissary and Exchange in preparation for rock emplacement,” Moninski said. “They weeded the rock beds in front of Rumpel Fitness Center and weeded and raked the volleyball courts across the parking lot.”Moninski said cadets also spent days weeding rock beds and cutting down day lilies at the Fort McCoy Commemorative Area.“They have also spent multiple hours walking the ditches and roadsides of Fort McCoy picking up trash along the roadways on post, along with conducting Adopt-A-Highway on Highway 21,” Moninski said. “The Fort McCoy (Directorate of Emergency Services) Police Department afforded our cadets with the opportunity to conduct general area beautification around their building, along with cleaning out the storage shed and washing all-terrain vehicles.”Additionally, Challenge Academy cadets participated in a community event Sept. 7 on Labor Day where the cadets raised and lowered the U.S. flag during the playing of reveille and retreat.In addition to what cadets have already completed, future projects include clean-up of the Combined Arms Collective Training Facility for range operations, spreading wood chips onto the trail from the IHG hotel to Rumpel Fitness Center for the Directorate of Public Works, and providing road guard support for the Army Ten-Miler for the Directorate of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation on Oct. 11, Moninski said.“The Wisconsin Challenge Academy cadets are not just supporting Fort McCoy; we have also completed projects with the Tomah (Wis.) Veterans Affairs Hospital doing landscaping operations for their Healing Garden,” Moninski said. “We are scheduled to support the Girl Scouts of Wisconsin and The Boy Scouts of America by doing brush removal and general area beautification projects, as well.  The academy will also be working with Mississippi Valley Conservancy conducting area beautification projects. Landscaping projects are planned for The Sparrows Nest at The Abbey along with The Gathering Place — both located close to Fort McCoy.”Donald Basil, general manager for the Fort McCoy Exchange, said he appreciated the support of the Challenge Academy to help make their grounds nicer.“On behalf of the Exchange, I want to thank the Challenge Academy cadets for all of their hard work,” Basil said. “What you are doing for the community is so important and it was an honor to work with you.”Fort McCoy Commissary Officer Cindy Perry offered similar thanks to the cadets for their work.“I can’t say enough about how grateful I am for the quality work these young people have done,” Perry said. “There was really no way our store would have been able to do this project, but they stepped up and did outstanding work.“And I’m especially impressed with the way they went about their work,” Perry said. “It was with military precision. I’ve worked with youth and young adults, and usually there’s some horsing around with these types of community projects, but that wasn’t the case here. The group I saw showed up, attentively followed instructions, and tackled the project in an organized manner. They quickly dug out the area for the rock and sanitized the carts in about two hours.“I want people to know that the work done greatly improves the outward appearance of our store, and that goes a long way to making shopping at the Fort McCoy Commissary a more pleasant experience for our customers. It was an important job well done. Thank you to all of the cadets for your hard work,” she said.Moninski said the work fits in well with the Challenge Academy mission “to offer our cadets the opportunity to develop the strength of character and the life skills necessary to become successful, responsible citizens.”“As a tenant organization, it is our duty and also our honor to support Fort McCoy,” Moninski said. “Our goal is to teach the cadets the value of contributing time and effort toward making our community and home a better place.”For more information about the Wisconsin Challenge Academy, visit more about Fort McCoy online at, on Facebook by searching “ftmccoy,” and on Twitter by searching “usagmccoy.”