Fill the Hill 2020: Virtually Unflappable

Plastic lawn flamingos on Bascom Hill
Hundreds of plastic pink flamingos adorn Bascom Hill at the University of Wisconsin-Madison as part of the annual “Fill the Hill” event. The event places a pink flamingo on Bascom Hill for each donation received that day. (Photo by Jeff Miller/UW-Madison)

We know Badgers are virtually unflappable, and we know COVID-19 cannot stop Badger Pride! This year, one of the most beloved Homecoming traditions at UW-Madison, Fill the Hill, will take place virtually.

Fill the Hill is a fundraising effort that brings campus lore to life in support of the university. In 1979, students and other passersby were treated to the sight of 1,008 plastic pink flamingos placed on Bascom Hill by student government pranksters from the Pail and Shovel Party. Ever since, these lawn ornaments have become a treasured tradition of the UW.

This year, we will be filling a virtual Bascom Hill with virtual plastic lawn flamingos, with each (virtual) flamingo representing one gift to the UW. With the overwhelming challenges of COVID-19 impacting us all, we know things are different. However, we are no strangers to overcoming challenges, and Fill the Hill is a chance for us to come together as a community, support current students and share our J-School pride.

The impact of gifts made to the School of Journalism and Mass Communication’s Annual Fund during Fill the Hill are far-reaching and make a meaningful difference for students.

Each year, these funds help provide scholarships to our James L. Baughman Senior Achievement Award winners. These awards recognize J-School seniors for their outstanding academic, professional and community service.

“As a community college transfer student from Miami, Florida, I somewhat felt like an oddball at UW-Madison,” said Ana Demendoza (BA’20) “The Baughman Senior Achievement Award not only supported me financially as a first-generation college student, but also validated my place in the J-School and as a journalist.”

Gifts to the Annual Fund also helped us remodel the Nafziger Conference Room and recover from the 2019 Vilas Flood, giving the J-School updated spaces to host speakers and encourage faculty-student collaboration.

“In these turbulent times, discretionary funds like those raise during the Fill the Hill allow us to better prepare for the unknown,” said Hernando Rojas, SJMC Director. “We continue to be committed to providing the highest quality educational experience for our students, and the generous contributions of our alumni and friends of the school are what make that possible.”

Join us beginning at 11 a.m. Central on Wednesday, October 21 through 6:00 p.m. Central on Friday, October 23 for Fill the Hill!