Camps funded through endowment are “best day of summer” for Waukon youth

Chef Camp part of summer camp series ... These three young ladies were among those who took part in Chef Camp offered by Northeast Iowa Community College’s (NICC) Waukon Center during the summer of 2023. Chef Camp was part of a series of summer camps offered through NICC, with funding possible through the Allamakee County Community Foundation and the Jim and Margo Sweeney Family Endowment for Allamakee Forever. Submitted photo.

“My son came home with new knowledge, excitement and interest in how to build and engineer moving objects. It starts with bringing toys to life and can lead to endless possibilities!”

“STEAM camp was the best day of my summer!”

These are just a couple of the rave reviews that parents and students recently gave summer camps hosted by Northeast Iowa Community College (NICC) in Waukon.

These positive experiences were made possible this year thanks to a partnership with the Allamakee County Community Foundation and the Jim and Margo Sweeney Family Endowment for Allamakee Forever. A grant provided $3,000 for the program in response to NICC’s application to the Community Foundation.

“I was happy to support this fun, educational opportunity for children in the area,” says Margo Sweeney, who started her family fund as part of Allamakee Forever, the Foundation’s campaign to increase area grantmaking and address pressing needs countywide. The Foundation applied for and was approved to join the Community Foundation of Greater Dubuque’s Small-town Dreams Initiative, which provides $100,000 to communities who build a $450,000 endowment that will pay out annually to support local projects and nonprofits.

Nearly 100 youth from kindergarten through 12th grade attended the camps, which included sessions on engineering, cooking and building a business. A health camp for high schoolers will be held later this fall, providing them with exposure to health care careers.

“We have a new theme and curriculum each year for our STEAM camps, take the students to different businesses for Build Your Own Business camp, and a new menu each year for Junior Chef Camp,” says Erica Nosbisch, director of the NICC Waukon Center. “We prioritize these camp topics to spark an interest in STEAM and other career and technical fields which offer high-demand, family-sustaining jobs throughout northeast Iowa.”

With limited educational summer programming in the area, the summer camps provide supportive and engaging learning opportunities and expose students to new ideas to help fight summer learning loss. “We are very appreciative of the grant funding that allows NICC to offer educational camps at a low cost so all students are able to attend,” says Nosbisch.

“Our kids really enjoy attending the summer camps at NICC! We love that there are such great opportunities right here in Waukon and they love that they get to see their friends and create things together,” says one parent. “Whether it’s a STEAM Camp or Kids in the Kitchen, they get to explore and learn in such fun and creative ways.”

The Allamakee County Community Foundation offers many opportunities for individuals, families and organizations to improve quality of life by addressing an array of local issues. To learn more about how to establish a fund or make a gift that impacts the local community, contact Allamakee County Community Foundation Coordinator Betty Steege at 563-586-2046.

The Allamakee County Community Foundation was formed in 2005 as an affiliate of the Community Foundation of Greater Dubuque. The founding members of the organization had a vision to ensure that local communities’ charitable programs were supported - now, and in the future. The Foundation works with many individuals, families, business and organizations to establish endowment funds that will provide grant awards for years to come. To learn more, visit