Community State Bank from Wisconsin

csb_iconCommunity Banking Month Spotlight: Community State Bank
Today’s Member Spotlight focuses on Community State Bank from Union Grove, Wis. In the following interview, Assistant Vice President and Marketing Director Gregory Wall explains what is unique about this local community bank.

What is unique about your community bank?
We have a stated core list of values that we use as a guide when we come to work every day, and when we’re out serving our community, friends and neighbors. As an organization, we ask everyone to live these values every day. We believe that by doing so, we have the ability to make our communities better places to live, work and do businesses. When our communities succeed, we succeed.

We are passionate and dedicated to…

  • Engaging with and building the communities we serve.
  • Creating a memorable experience every time.
  • Making the ordinary “Extraordinary”.
  • Honoring and respecting the trust people place in us.
  • Acting with honesty and integrity.
  • Embracing and driving change.
  • Lifelong learning and striving for excellence in everything we do.
  • Holding ourselves and each other accountable.
  • Encouraging and inspiring each other.
  • Education and financial literacy.
  • Having fun and making a difference every day

How does your community bank uniquely serve your local community?
CSB team members take leadership roles throughout the communities we serve. We have dedicated staff who serve on local school, county and municipal boards in addition to local, regional and national service organizations like the Kiwanis Club and the United Way.

But for an example where we literally “serve” our customers, our Ag team at CSB is second to none (Vice President Dave Moyer, Assistant Vice President Rachael Crane and Crop Insurance Specialist Cory Jones). They are such a large part of the agricultural community in southeast Wisconsin. In the fall, during harvest time when the farmers are at their busiest, our Ag team delivers them lunch in the field. It’s a nice break from the hard work everyone has been doing.  I’ve also seen them close loans on the hood of a pickup truck out on the farm. This is a remarkable group of individuals and only a small example of the team at Community State Bank.

What is the quirkiest, strangest or funniest thing you’ve seen at your community bank?
The Great Duck Rescue of 2014 has to be on the top of that list. The story goes as follows. A mother duck and her ducklings were wandering through our Mt. Pleasant office parking lot on a Tuesday afternoon last spring. They were on the way to the pond across the street. When they got to the other side of the parking lot, the ducklings couldn’t make it up the steep curb with Momma Duck. So, the ducklings walked down the parking lot trying to find a way around the curb and encountered a storm drain…OH NO! The ducklings fell through the grate and into the storm drain…Momma Duck wasn’t very happy! Some of our customers saw what had happened and jumped into action. They coaxed the ducklings through the storm drain to the culvert on the other side of the road, where Momma Duck was very happy to see them. The final challenge for this new family was getting across the highway to the pond. Again, our customers stepped in. They helped stop traffic on the road and then escorted Momma Duck and her ducklings across the street to the pond.  High drama for a Tuesday afternoon! The entire event was captured here.

What is your proudest moment from your time at your community bank?
CSB has developed a comprehensive interactive financial literacy program called “MyLIFE” (My Local Interactive Financial Education). MyLIFE is a program for high school students designed to demonstrate the importance of sound money management skills. It’s a unique learning experience for the students, and an opportunity to promote a partnership between the local business community and local schools.

In 2014 Community State Bank received the Governor’s Financial Literacy Award for the MyLIFE program. Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker presented the award to representatives of CSB. The ceremony was held in the Governor’s Conference room inside the State Capitol in Madison.

MyLIFE has been introduced at four local high schools so far and has benefitted nearly 1,000 high school students. The program has been so successful we’ve developed a MyLIFE Essentials program for middle school students.

MyLIFE Kris Bernstein

What is your favorite project you’ve ever worked on at your community bank?
CSB is very involved in leadership roles throughout southeast Wisconsin. We often ask ourselves, “If not us, who?” and “If not now, when?” One of the core values mentioned earlier was “engaging with and building the communities we serve.” Our recent Business Economic Forum Breakfast Series was a great example of that.

In March, CSB hosted two business economic forums. Business leaders were invited to join us for breakfast, listen to some great speakers, and talk about the economy on a county, state and national level. Day one of the event featured Racine County Executive Peter Hansen and Lt. Governor Rebecca Kleefisch (most of our branch network is in Racine County). Day two of the event featured presentations from Racine Area Manufacturers and Commerce (RAMAC) President Jim Ladwig and U.S. House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Paul Ryan. We had more than 250 guests over the two-day event.

Do you celebrate Community Banking Month?
We like to say at CSB we celebrate Community Banking Month every month! In April we traditionally have banners up at our locations announcing Community Banking Month, and we serve treats that were bought from local businesses.

Want to know more about the Community Bankers at CSB? Check out our “Get to Know CSB” section on our website. You can find fun facts like “Who used to teach disco in college?” or “Who wanted to be a racecar driver when they grew up?” It’s a really personal and fun section on our website.

Financial Literacy Twitter Chat

Join ICBA for its financial literacy Twitter chat on Friday, September 5 at 2 p.m. (eastern). This chat will feature Joel Chrisler, consumer economics teacher at Sauk Prairie High School in Prairie du Sac, Wis. Joel and his saavy high school students will be joined by @BankofPdS, @NatlJumpStart, @PracticalMoney, @JA_USA and numerous community bankers from around the nation.

YouthFinLit Promo2

Follow #YouthFinLit to join in the conversation on Friday. For additional information, visit ICBA’s website.

Maine’s Machias Savings Bank Hosts “Future Promises” event

Since 2003, Maine community bank Machias Savings Bank has hosted Future Promises for students throughout Washington County, one of the most rural counties in the state which face a high level of poverty. The program starts with an annual job fair hosted by MSB at the University of Maine at Machias. All students in grades 3rd-6th in Washington County are invited to attend the fair. The bank invites various professionals to attend as well to discuss their jobs with students. Some of the professionals include: bankers, construction workers, vets, broadcast reporters, law enforcement and many others. Each of the professionals has a booth where they speak to the kids about their job and what it took for them to get into their chosen profession. Many of them provide engaging activities for the children to help spark their interest.

Traci Sanborn interviewing little boy

In addition to hosting the event, there is also have a booth staffed by MSB employees. At the MSB booth, staffers distribute financial literacy materials and discuss banking careers with the students. Each teacher is provided a series of financial literacy games to use in the classroom.

After the fair, students are encouraged to write an essay on what they want to be when they grow up and submit it to the bank. A committee reviews the essays and selects 20 winners. The recipients and their families are invited to an awards banquet where MSB provides dinner and presents them with their award. Students receive a certificate, a complete set of financial literacy games and a $250 voucher that can be applied to a savings account or a 529 college savings account.

Future Promises Bags


This program has achieved tremendous growth in the past several years with more than 900 students attending the Future Promises Job Fair in 2013. Currently, Machias Savings Bank is exploring the expansion of Future Promises to include two additional counties.

Throughout the month of August, we’ll be posting regular posts highlighting financial literacy information, including community banks who are active in their local communities’ financial literacy programs.

Have a story to share? Reach out to either Audrey Wright-Cipriano at or Jessica Wallace at

Missouri’s United Bank of Union Helps Promote Financial Literacy

United Bank of Union has made a conscious effort to help increase financial literacy among members of the Union, Missouri and surrounding communities during the 2013-2014 school year. 

Seventeen of the bank’s staff participated in financial education efforts this past year going into 68 classrooms in Beaufort School, Central Elementary School in Union, Clark Vitt in Union, Union High School, Sullivan High School, Sullivan Middle School, St. Clair High School and East Central College. Bank staff members began attending classrooms from October 2013 – June 2014.

photo 1

In all, United Bank of Union employees delivered lessons to more than 1,900 students, grades kindergarten through 12th grade, and also gave a financial presentation to 24 East Central College “Intro to Business” students, and about 10 people during the Boy Scout visit to the bank in April. 

United Bank of Union also sponsors the EverFi web based financial education software program for Union High School. This program parallels the required state of Missouri personal finance course curriculum for high school students. There were 96 students that successfully completed and were certified through the program this year.

Throughout the month of August, we’ll be posting regular posts highlighting financial literacy information, including community banks who are active in their local communities’ financial literacy programs.

Have a story to share? Reach out to either Audrey Wright-Cipriano at or Jessica Wallace at 

Back to school finance tips for college students

Don’t panic yet, kids! There are still a few more weeks of summer left. But for incoming college freshmen, creating and managing your own finances is something that might be new to you.

Keystone Community Bank in Kalamazoo, Michigan posted six tips last summer with suggestions for incoming college students:

1. Open a checking account at a community bank in the town where the student will be going to school. Have the student put at least one other signer on the account, such as a parent (or both parents if applicable), who may have to deposit funds into the account or need access to the account in the future. Remember, banks cannot deal with someone efficiently if they’re not on the account.

2. Keep account information confidential and don’t share account numbers, passwords, PINs, etc.

3. Get a debit card to go with the checking account and get some minimal overdraft protection, just in case you or your student make an error in your account. Mistakes do happen.

4. Don’t get paper statements. Opt for electronic statements and get online banking, mobile banking and bill pay, which are free at many banks. Students tend to move frequently, so electronic statements avoid the needless hassle (and security risk) of paper statements getting in the wrong hands or not getting forwarded.

5. Use online or mobile banking to check the account daily. It just takes a couple of minutes and you can make sure the activity going through your account is all legitimate. Plus, you might be able to avoid an error that could result in overdraft charges, which are expensive.

6. Students: avoid credit card offers for the most part, or at least first talk about it with your parents, so you can make a good decision.

What other pieces of advice would you give young adults on how to handle their money?

Farmers Market

Happy official first day of summer! As the kids are wondering how to fill their summer days now that school is out, why not take them over to the local farmers market?

The ladies over at the Mumbling Mommy blog give plenty of reasons why you should take children to your local farmers market.

Whether it’s your children, your entire family or just yourself, do you have any plans for heading over to your community farmer’s market soon?

Tell us about your community’s farmers market! Are you a community bank who sponsors a market in your town? Let us know! We’re always encouraging people to bank local, dine local and shop local.

Each Friday this May, be on the lookout for Go Local’s Friday Farmers Market posts. We’re highlighting the great works community banks from across the country do with their local markets.