The Appleton Education Foundation has been receiving quite a bit of publicity lately – all thanks to Mary Beth Nienhaus.

Mary Beth is a former educator in the Appleton Area School District and was the sole-owner of Winagamie Golf Course from 1993-2013. On December 31, 2013, she gifted the course and all its assets to the AEF.


It is Mary Beth’s wish that the AEF will continue to operate the course as the top-notch facility it is, additionally, educational opportunities will exist for local students.

In order to continue outstanding operations, Winagamie, Inc. (parent company of Winagamie Golf Course) is now governed by a board of directors; Mary Beth is a director on the board. With the board’s guidance, a new general manager and head golf professional was hired. Dan McGinn comes to Winagamie from Muscantine, Iowa, where he served as head golf pro for a municipal golf course. He will run all golf course operations and coordinate educational opportunities. Mary Beth will continue to have a presence at the course as she will continue to lend her time and talents in the pro shop.

The AEF has partnered with the Appleton Area School District and Fox Valley Technical College to implement beyond-the-classroom learning at the course.

These educational opportunities are not simply about golf. Fox Valley Technical College has a golf course turf and equipment technician program and many other areas of study relating to agriculture, natural resources, business, hospitality, information technology, sales and more that will benefit from this gift.

AASD students will have the opportunity this summer to begin taking courses at Winagamie. High school students will take classes taught by FVTC instructors and earn high school and college credits.

Mary Beth will receive the Thomas G. Scullen Leadership Award tonight at a special dinner. This award recognizes a leader in education in the Fox Valley. The award committee selected her because of her lifetime commitment to education. Following nearly 30 years as a teacher in AASD, Mary Beth retired so she could spend more time running Winagamie. She has made large contributions toward capital projects to benefit Appleton West High School – including a gift to renovate Goodland Field, now named Nienhaus Sports Complex.

In 2002, she founded the Winagamie Golf Foundation. The mission of the foundation is to provide all youth with the opportunity to learn and play golf and embrace the core values associated with everyday life. Mary Beth will continue to serve as president of this foundation and director of instruction for the junior academy.

We can’t possibly say thank you enough to express our gratitude. The AEF is humbled by the opportunity to carryout Mary Beth’s wishes. We are excited to see all the educational opportunities that will be available for local students.

To read more about this amazing gift and Mary Beth, please visit our Facebook page. Many stories, videos and pictures have been shared.


Additional notes
  • After best practices are established with AASD and FVTC, Winagamie may look for additional educational partners.
  • AEF is an independent nonprofit organization supporting creative learning opportunities in Appleton schools and the community. The Appleton Area School District is the largest beneficiary of the AEF. 
  • As the sole-shareholder of Winagamie, Inc. the AEF expects to draw modest dividends from the course in the future. The number one priority right now is building a healthy capital reserve fund.