December 10, 2013
From thecountrytoday.com: “New direction: Madison College focusing on farm business management” – REEDSBURG — Madison College officials are revamping a nearly dormant agriculture program to focus on farm-business-management skills for beginning and established farmers.
John Alt, north region administrator for Madison College, formerly known as Madison Area Technical College, said college officials are making the transition from a combination farm-business and production-management program to focus strictly on farm-business management.
Randy Zogbaum, most recently the agriculture education director for the Wisconsin Technical College System, has been hired as the program’s instructor and coordinator.
Madison College had offered a diploma program with courses in soils, crop and livestock management, livestock nutrition, and farm records and business analysis. Alt said they heard loud and clear from farmers and advisers that what farmers really need is a program designed to help them with their business-management skills.
Zogbaum had been helping the college shape the new direction while working in his WTCS role, so when he expressed an interest in the Madison College position, Alt said Zogbaum was a perfect fit.
“(Zogbaum) has tremendous knowledge of what goes on statewide and nationally,” Alt said. “In all fairness, we recruited him. We’d be crazy not to look at a person who was this close to the whole process of developing the program. I’m looking at Randy to grow this program.”
The program has been slow to gain traction out of the gate — only three students signed up for a limited number of classes that started in November — but officials hope to build interest in sign-ups for another round of classes in January and have full classes in the fall of 2014.
The 2014 classes will start in mid-January and run for about six weeks each. A second group will start in late February and run until early April. All classes will meet for two hours, once per week.
A similar schedule will take shape again in the fall of 2014.
Classes will be held at the Green Technology Training and Enterprise Center in Plain. Alt said he is hopeful that as interest in the program grows, similar classes will be held at other locations within the 12-county Madison College district.
Madison College officials solicited the advice of farmers and financial institution representatives in shaping their new curriculum.
“We all know that farms don’t fail because farmers aren’t working hard, they fail because they’re not good at managing a business,” Zogbaum said. “From the education side it’s not a favorite topic all the time. But our goal is to help them be the best business people they can be.”
The courses offered by Madison College will lead students down the path of developing a business plan for their farm business. Students will then learn methods for using the plan to evaluate their farm’s financial viability and assist in decision making.
Alt said students can take each course sequentially or individual courses depending on their experience and knowledge of operating a farm business.
“Farming is a complicated business,” Zogbaum said. “If you don’t know your cost of production all the way through you really can’t tell if you’re making money. That’s the goal of the courses we set up — to work through it in a way that makes sense for the farmer.”
Alt said farmers have told them they don’t need a diploma or a certificate but instead need just-in-time training to help them manage their farms. Farmers or people interested in starting a farming operation can take the courses they need to help their individual situations.
“The nice thing is it’s easily customizable,” Alt said. “The courses we’re developing are applicable to all sorts of things. This is a new direction for the college.”
Zogbaum will also be developing a fee-for-service program that will allow farmers to receive one-on-one instruction.
Zogbaum said within the structure of the old farm-business and production-management program, if a student needed just one course and left the program, that hurt the statistics that kept the program viable.
“In the new program, if you choose to come in and get a business plan in the business planning course and we never see you again, that would be unfortunate, because we’d like to have you back, but you still get a good value out of that class,” Zogbaum said. “Either way, it doesn’t hurt the program and it helps the student.”
Zogbaum was born and raised in Madison but grew up working on a dairy farm in Richland County and a beef and pork farm in Rock County. His father’s family is from the Lone Rock area, so he said his “heart and soul are right here in this area.”
“I was real excited to have the opportunity to get back in the classroom,” he said. “I had some great colleagues in the system office and I’ll miss each and every one of them. But this opportunity is just too good to pass up.”
Zogbaum worked at the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection as a soil and water quality specialist and as a Columbia County Extension agriculture agent before taking the WTCS agriculture director position in 2008.
Each six-week course will cost about $240, and in many cases, scholarship or grant funds are available to cover some of the costs, Alt said.
Zogbaum said he could envision a farmer taking a course every year to help build a strong financial base.
“It would be a great opportunity to sit down with 15 or 20 other farmers and an instructor and look at your balance sheet year after year,” he said. “Why not use the class as a time to close out your books for the year?”
The last full-time employee in Madison College’s old agriculture program retired this year, so Alt said it was important to maintain the position and head the program in a viable direction.
“It’s going to appeal to a lot of people,” he said of the revamped program. “We have lease space at the Green Technology Center in Plain, so that’s where we’re starting, but I can see it spreading very quickly to other parts of the district. I think it has huge potential.”
December 9, 2013
From wkow.com: “Madison College raises money for Philippine typhoon victims” – Students at Madison College are using a class project to help with typhoon relief in the Philippines.
Business and cosmetology students put together a promotion where they’re donating five percent of all sales at the college’s Tru-Style Salon to the American Red Cross.
“I can’t tell you how excited they are and how excited I am for them that they’re able to work collaboratively across parts of the college and be able to have their work implemented, and actually helping customers, helping typhoon victims, doing civic responsibility,” said Betty Hurd of the School of Business and Applied Arts.
The promotion is available through next Friday at the Tru-Style Salon in the college’s Truax campus.
November 29, 2013
From nbc15.com: “Co-worker gives the gift of a lifetime” – It’s a gift that will last a lifetime, a selfless donation made to a co-worker. The gift is giving one Madison man a big reason to be thankful this holiday season.
This time last year Terry Webb found out his kidneys were failing, he and his doctors started the process to get on the donor list. A wait that could take 8 or 9 years. During that time, he started searching for a family member who might be able to help him out sooner.
“Judging by what everyone says to me now, I was pretty bad.” Starting dialysis, Terry says he wasn’t himself. “Progressively the disease got worse.”
Things started looking bad when family member after family member came back with a negative match.
“There’s only one that came back as a potential match and it was far from ideal.”
As provost at Madison College, Terry struggled both at home and at work.
“Well we could all tell that Terry was not doing as well as he could be,” says his co-worker, Keith Cornille.
So a few offices away Keith Cornille decided to step up.
“There’s a whole other side to this, what happened if I didn’t do something? What happened if I knew I was a match and could have helped someone and didn’t.”
Be it an act of fate, a miracle or just sheer dumb luck, he was a match.
“This was a really exceptional match. The likelihood of that happening when you’re sitting next to someone working with them everyday is something more stunning than anything else.”
The surgery was in June, and it went off without a hitch. Terry says he was lucky enough that his body didn’t reject the kidney at first, a common occurrence.
“I actually went to visit Keith in the hospital room that’s across the hall from me because it’s hard to believe that it made such a big difference.”
Counting his blessings everyday that he can return to life as normal.
“I can do things that I couldn’t do before, unfortunately that includes household chores, raking, stuff like that.”
“If I didn’t give him my kidney I was afraid he was going to ask me to come over and do all of his chores and I didn’t want any part in that I have my own leaves to rake!”
Keith says all kidding aside, it’s an amazing feeling to give someone his life back.
“To consider a donation of life to really think about what the impact of that donation could be on someone.”
Opening Terry’s eyes to the generosity of his co-worker, and the inspiring gift he’ll cherish forever.
“To be part of this entirely selfless act that really makes you look at doing the same sorts of things yourself more often.”
November 26, 2013
From wkow.com: “Thanksgiving dinner disasters averted” – As Thanksgiving approaches, visions of burned turkeys, lumpy gravy and burned stuffing can bring kitchen anxiety to even the most seasoned cooks.
WKOW visited Madison College Culinary Arts to talk with Chef Paul Short, who teaches us how to fix the most common cooking disasters on turkey day.
“If the turkey’s not thawed completely, don’t crank up the oven — delay dinner,” Short said. “We don’t want to make people sick. It’s about getting together and having a great time, so having that great time destroyed because we rush something, that’s not going to work.”
Short says people who don’t thaw their turkeys well enough often crank up the oven temperature to compensate; however, “it’s not cooking any faster. It’s only cooking faster on the outside.”
The solution is to cut the turkey meat off the bone, slice it into 1-inch thick slices, place the slices in a pan, cover the meat with gravy, and simmer for 30 to 35 minutes until the meat reaches 165 degrees in the middle or is no longer pink.
“You just need to serve it differently,” Short said, explaining to serve the slices and gravy on a platter. “It’s not going to look like a normal Rockwell turkey.”
Short makes sure to mention that people should sanitize all knives, boards and surfaces if there are raw turkey juices.
“You really need to clean this up before you do anything else because you don’t want to make your guests or family sick from your turkey,” Short said.
Lumpy gravy is an easy problem to fix, according to Short.
“Just sieve it,” he said, holding up a fine mesh strainer. He explains that if people are adding a thickener to hot liquid, the thickener needs to be cold. Otherwise, it will form lumps or what Short likes to call “dumplings.”
To avoid burning stuffing, set the baking dish in a pan of shallow water and bake.
“The water will cause steam to come off there, so it’s going to help us create a moist stuffing and also help us in the cooking process to help that custard bond together,” Short said, explaining to bake the stuffing in the water bath the entire time it’s in the oven to avoid burning the top and bottom.
November 20, 2013
From ibmadison.com: “Stoughton Trailers’ Wahlin takes the high road through economic challenges” – For most area businesses, the Great Recession was nothing less than devastating. For Stoughton Trailers, however, it was just one terrifying part of a ferocious three-headed monster.
The company was already experiencing a brutal downturn before the recession hit its frightening heights in late 2008, having seen a slackening in demand for its signature dry-van trailers starting in 2006.
Add to that the hollowing out of another once-profitable sector — intermodal equipment — because of Chinese competition, and you had a recipe for disaster.
You could say that’s just what befell Stoughton Trailers as the family-run company approached its 50th anniversary near the close of the last decade, but it has stormed back in the past few years, going from around 1,400 employees before the downturn began, to around 250 when the recession was doing its worst damage, to approximately 1,000 today.
At IB’s next Icons in Business presentation on Dec. 3, Stoughton Trailers President Robert Wahlin will discuss the company’s survival strategies in the wake of the Great Recession and the challenges the company faced in both ramping up and ramping down production in response to global economic forces.
According to Wahlin, it wasn’t just the loss of business that hurt Stoughton Trailers, it was also the hemorrhaging of considerable human capital, which threatened the long-term success of his company.
“When we dropped from around 1,400 to around 250 in basically about a three-year period, at that point, you’re not just cutting to the bone, you’re cutting into the bone,” said Wahlin. “So it was during that time period we lost a lot of good people, a lot of our core talented manufacturing personnel.”
In an era when it’s already difficult to recruit and retain skilled manufacturing workers, losing all that accumulated talent poses a significant problem. Part of Stoughton Trailers’ response was to refocus its remaining workforce on continuing education.
“The people we were able to continue with, we did significant investment in, and what I mean by that is educational investment,” said Wahlin. “So we had shop floor people, we had administrative people, the whole group. … We took people off the floor and put them in the classroom, and we had classes in quality certification, Lean Six Sigma, ergonomics, and just kind of general business classes as well. And we were able to build up and improve our core base of personnel and improve those jobs while pursuing educational opportunities as well.
“We did this through MATC, and it got to the point where some of the classes were so dominated by Stoughton Trailers employees that they actually came and held the classes at our facilities.”
But while the company’s remaining workforce no doubt felt fortunate to be in the factory or in the classroom — anywhere but on the unemployment line — according to Wahlin, keeping them motivated in the face of so much grim news was one of his biggest challenges.
“Yeah, it’s a big challenge to keep them excited about coming to work every day when they see people that they’ve worked with for so many years have to leave or sit on the sidelines,” said Wahlin. “You can easily fall into an, ‘oh, what’s the point?’ type of atmosphere, and especially when you’re taking on improvement projects and educational opportunities, it’s hard for people to see the advantage of that because it’s not an immediate payback. So when you’re doing those types of investments, there’s a sense of urgency to put that education and that investment to good use and to see that payback, but you just have to be very patient and wait for the right time.”
The right time eventually came, but not before the company was forced to retool and allow plenty of good people to move on to other jobs. While much of the company’s resurgence can be attributed to a rebound in demand for its core products and a rosier economic picture overall, Stoughton Trailers also re-evaluated its product line and redoubled its efforts to address the manufacturing skills gap.
In addition to ramping up production to address the pent-up demand for replacement trailers, the company began to diversify.
“During the downturn, we were just into dry-vans,” said Wahlin. “Into the downturn and coming out of it, we started building a grain trailer, so we got into agricultural equipment. … We also have been scratching and clawing to find our way back into intermodal containers and chassis. It went to China, but we redid [our] Evansville plant and significantly changed the product design, trying to find a way where we can be efficient enough to get back into that market.
“We had been, for the last few years, the only North American supplier that’s been trying to get back in, but we’ve been building containers and chassis again, and right now we’re looking and have been doing research into other products such as flatbeds and refrigerated equipment and other things. So yeah, the dry-van market started to increase primarily through equipment replacement demand, and we also diversified our products so we weren’t as susceptible to the downturn and the swings that go with a single product line.”
While slaying the Chinese competition dragon requires a novel, up-to-the-moment strategy — one that Wahlin promises to share at the Icons in Business presentation — an even greater problem for the company, and other U.S. manufacturers, may be the lingering manufacturing skills gap.
While laying off hundreds of employees is devastating on both a personal and professional level, finding enough skilled people to meet new demand can be almost as challenging as winding down production.
Wahlin says the company was able to recall between 300 and 350 of its former employees when it started hiring again, but many had moved on, and the available pool of skilled labor simply isn’t what it used to be.
“We’re in somewhat of a unique situation,” said Wahlin. “Our plants are in Stoughton — so Southern Dane — as well as Rock County in Evansville and Green County in Brodhead. And when GM left Janesville, the whole manufacturing infrastructure just kind of disappeared from the area. There’s not the base of welders and industrial painters and machine operators and press operators. There’s not nearly as much of that skill in the area as there used to be, so you get to a point where you can’t go and rely on hiring those skills.
“We have an in-house welding department where, I would say over 95% of our welders we promote from within and train in-house, and they’ll spend a week or more in our welding training center. … We’ve taken a much different approach and investment to training and education than we had to in the past, when some of those manufacturing skills were more readily available in the market.”
Wahlin says the company has also opened up the company’s facilities to high school kids to show them what manufacturing has to offer and prove to them it’s not the hard, dirty, physical work it was in the old days. Beyond that, however, the urgency of the moment demands that his company act now. It’s a good problem to have — particularly considering the dark days Stoughton Trailers recently emerged from — but that doesn’t make the problem any less real.
“The whole skills gap issue is kind of a nationwide phenomenon, and yeah, I think a lot of programs are getting in place and a greater emphasis is being made in the tech schools to start to rebuild that,” said Wahlin, “but manufacturers today can’t wait for that to happen. They need people today or tomorrow, and they’re left with no other choice but to get them in and train them internally.”
November 19, 2013
From host.madison.com: “MATC’s Walleser nabs enrollment award” – Diane Walleser, vice president of enrollment at Madison Area Technical College, was honored last week by a national association for her work promoting strategic enrollment management.
At the ceremony in Chicago, Walleser was touted by the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers for leadership that has led to significant growth in student applications and enrollment since she started in 2005. It also noted an 85 percent increase in students in the college’s liberal arts transfer program during her tenure.
“A new academic pathway model was developed to improve retention and completion rates and shorten time-to-completion,” the association noted. “Academic and peer advisors have been hired and orientation services redesigned to intentionally support student retention and success.”
November 4, 2013
From wkow.com: “Care Care Clinic preps vehicles for winter” – As winter weather fast approaches, experts are encouraging people to start thinking about getting cars ready for chilly temperatures.
Madison College held their 11th annual Free Car Care Clinic on Saturday. Students and instructors offered their expertise to check belts, hoses and other winter problem areas for those who stopped by.
“The things that come in– oil leaks, coolant leaks, ya know bad coolant, just applying what I’ve learned in the classroom to real life experiences, it’s really an eye opener,” says student Isaac Nowak.
Those who attended the event were asked to donate non-perishable food items. Last year, more than 200 pounds of food were sent to local pantries after the clinic.
October 25, 2013
From dailyunion.com: “Jefferson High health occupations class gives dual credit with MATC” – JEFFERSON — Longtime Jefferson High School teacher Carolyn Behrens started the Jefferson High School health occupations class several years ago as a pipeline to the Certified Nursing Assistant program.
The program has expanded since teacher Kimberly Hart-Shatswell took it over eight years ago, and now Hart-Shatswell has teamed up with Madison Area Technical College to offer the course for dual credit for both the high school and MATC.
In addition, Hart-Shatswell is putting together a new course on medical terminology that will be offered next semester as an advanced standing class, and she’s working on a dual-credit ar rangement for that class as well.
The teacher said that when she found out about the opportunity to enter into a dual-credit arrangement with MATC, known as Madison College, she signed up for summer training and submitted her course profile, to make sure it meets MATC’s requirements.
Jefferson High School junior Jessica Milbrath said that the dual credit course will help set her on her way in her chosen career.
Born two months premature, she always has been interested in healthcare and decided at a fairly young age that she wanted to help others as others had helped give her a healthy start in life.
“I want to be an OB nurse,” the student said. “I already volunteer at the hospital, which I’ve done for the past three years now.”
She said her experience working at the hospital has only solidified her desire to work in healthcare, particularly in obstetrics.
“I have a lot of fun up there and I have met some great people through the hospital,” Milbrath said.
The junior said it’s good to be able to get some of the prerequisites for her future studies out of the way while still in high school, “and it’s still free through the local school district.”
Next year, she said, she plans to take medical terminology and enter Certified Nursing Assistant training. From there, she hopes to go on to nursing school.
Senior Amanda Watts said she hopes to become a nurse as well, with the idea of eventually entering pediatrics.
She said the dual-credit course is boosting her resume while she’s still in high school and she knows if she continues with MATC or the University of Wisconsin System, she will already have credits in her chosen field.
Right now, she’s looking at attending Rasmussen College in Wausau, so she’s not sure how credits obtained in high school would transfer to that program, but it should at least give her a background in the basics.
“I always kind of wanted to be a doctor, since about second grade,” she said.
She noted that the class has given students valuable hands-on experience, as well as a lot of information about the field. For some, she said, that’s led them to decide to go in a different direction, but the class has strengthened her feeling that she wants to enter medicine.
Watts, too, hopes to take the medical terminology class next semester and to enter Certified Nursing Assistant training as a first step toward working in the medical field.
Hart-Shatswell said that she proposed the new medical terminology class last year. Now that Jefferson High School has a Latin program, she thought her new class, in combination with the anatomy and physiology class the school already offers, would be a good fit for students planning to enter the medical field.
“The school board and administration have been really supportive of these efforts,” Hart-Shatswell said.
The teacher is in her eighth year at Jefferson High School. She actually worked as a pharmacy technician for 15 years before entering education. She said healthcare is an important field, and people with medical training at any level are always in demand.
“There are a wide variety of jobs available in the field, and not all of them involve direct patient care,” she said, listing medical illustrators, biomedical engineers, hospital architects and pharmacists as other options.
“What we’re doing here at Jefferson High School is giving students a good background to enter one of these fields, and even if they choose to go in another direction, they’re getting good information,” she said.
“Health is always going to be part of people’s lives.”
October 23, 2013
From wrn.com: “Safer vehicles offset higher speed limit” – It’s not legal to drive 70 miles an hour, as the bill awaits Senate approval. The state Assembly has already given the green light to a 70 mph speed limit, but its fate is uncertain in the Senate as opponents lobby against the measure.
Brian Landers is a traffic law and traffic crash investigation instructor at Madison College. He doesn’t see a problem with the higher posted limit, saying surrounding states have equal or higher speed limits. ”I don’t think that the increase of 5 mph is going to see any large increase in fatal crashes in Wisconsin. I think that that’s easily offset not only through the advancements in technology in vehicles, but also through the education and enforcement of law enforcement.”
Landers points to higher vehicle safety standards, including better seat-belts, blind spot monitoring, air bags, breaking systems, and other improvements, as contributing factors in a reduction of fatal crashes nationally and statewide.
Green Bay-based Schneider National — the nation’s largest trucking company — has safety and fuel efficiency concerns. Landers says 70 is a maximum speed; it’s not mandatory. ”Depending upon your driving habits, and depending upon the road conditions and the weather conditions … you know, no one is forcing you to go 70 mph. So, if Schneider National or if any motorist out there feels like 65 is their safe limit, then they can still do 65 miles an hour.”
The bill’s author — state Representative Paul Tittl (R-Manitowoc) — says many motorists are already driving faster than the current 65 mph limit and it makes sense that the legal speed is adjusted accordingly.
Landers says whether a motorist is driving 10 miles an hour or 70, he needs to be sober, buckle up, and practice safe driving skills, which means regardless of the legal speed limit, a driver must slow down if conditions warrant.
October 18, 2013
From host.madison.com: ”Column: MATC president makes good first impression” — Jack E. Daniels, the new president of Madison Area Technical College, is straightforward about his challenges and priorities.
The college’s enrollment is slipping after a building boom. Labor contracts are expiring in a post-Act 10 world. Technology is changing the traditional classroom.
Yet Daniels likes what he sees on his many campuses, wants to develop a shared vision and promises to always put students first.
His candor included an honest answer to a tough question Tuesday from the State Journal editorial board. Asked when he last spoke to his predecessor, Bettsey Barhorst, Daniels replied without hesitation that it’s been about a month and a half.
That’s more evidence the MATC District Board’s pay extension for Barhorst ($88,000 for 19 weeks of on-call advice, mostly by phone) was a parting gift for her long tenure. It wasn’t a seriously needed consulting gig.
Daniels, a Chicago native who ran a community college in Los Angeles, makes a good first impression. He seems collaborative yet driven, emphasizing the employment needs of the region.
“Technical college is about jobs — getting people prepared for jobs,” he stressed.
That ranges from culinary classes to manufacturing skills to a specialized program on stem cells. MATC also is the top source of transfer students to UW-Madison.
Daniels said the focus on MATC’s building expansion will shift more to what’s happening in those facilities.
Daniels has met with hundreds of groups since starting his job Aug. 19. He’s launching a strategic planning effort and pledged to seek wide input.
MATC’s enrollment has fallen as the economy has improved. Daniels said that places more importance on recruitment. Pitching MATC’s affordability to parents could help attract more high school students, he suggested. Daniels had hundreds of high school students on his college campus in Los Angeles. Smoothing that transition is key.
Daniels said he supports online and hybrid classes but wants them carefully assessed. The traditional role of instructors isn’t going away, he added.
California makes it easier to track the jobs and pay of graduates by Social Security number, something Wisconsin doesn’t allow, he said. Yet measuring success is vital, he suggested.
Daniels isn’t hung up on his institution’s name. Whether you call it MATC or Madison College, what’s important is that it fulfills its mission, he said.
We like the attitude and honesty.
October 10, 2013
From host.madison.com: “Smile! Local officers testing body camera” – Officers at Madison Area Technical College are checking out a new piece of equipment that could help in gathering evidence, right from an officer’s shoulder.
The new gadget is a video camera that can be clipped onto a shoulder or other parts of an officer’s uniform.
“The portable cameras can be switched on when an officer faces a possible confrontation,” the college said in a news release.
The evidence caught by camera could help in crime detection, prevention and prosecution, the release said.
October 9, 2013
From ibmadison.com: “Who cares about online privacy?” – The holidays are coming, and that means millions of consumers will hunt for gifts online. Courtesy of the National Security Agency spying controversy, the 2013 holiday season will feature an added twist of uncertainty about Web privacy, and don’t think retailers aren’t worried about it.
Consumers are another story, according to Steve Noll, a marketing-social media professor in the School of Business and Applied Arts at Madison College. His background is in advertising and marketing sales, and he’s not convinced that consumers are bent out of shape about online privacy. He notes that we’re living in an age where consumers are okay with Facebook selling their information to advertisers but freak out about the notion of subscription-based online business models, which would offer more privacy.
With the National Retail Federation forecasting solid holiday sales, IB discussed online privacy with Noll.
IB: It’s been several months since the NSA controversy erupted. What’s your sense of how alarmed the public is about online privacy?
Noll: I’ve always felt that online privacy is something that most people are aware of, but the reality is most people actually don’t do much about it. Most people who use things like Facebook, if you go onto their site, they have not taken steps to secure their site against people who are not friends being able to have access to it. So it seems to me that every few months, some story comes out about online privacy, and it gets everybody hyped up, but then not a lot of people really do much about it. They think about it for a few months and they kind of forget about it until the next incident, and then they get all stirred up about it. It’s kind of like this recurring cycle of nothing.
Obviously, this NSA story was much bigger than the typical identity theft report that usually triggers these types of conversations, but by the time the Christmas shopping season gets here, people are not going to be considering that anymore. The whole NSA issue, among general consumers, is going to fade into the background. I don’t see this changing people’s online shopping behavior.
IB: Do you sense a high level of urgency among online merchants, especially since a lack of trust in data security could substantially curtail online shopping?
Noll: I’m sure they are worried about it because anybody would worry about anything that potentially could hurt them. If you look at how online retailing works, there is so much security in there already. This is the question that I ask in one of my classes: Who here does not shop online? At least one person raises their hand. And then I ask why don’t you shop online? And he says, ‘Well, I don’t trust it. I don’t trust my information getting out there.’ I follow that question up with, ‘Do you shop at the mall?’ He says, ‘Of course I do, that’s where I have to get all my stuff.’
And the reality is, when you go to a mall and you give somebody your credit card, and even if they scan the card into a cash register and give it back to you, they have still have the opportunity to kind of glance at that card and potentially memorize that information and quickly write it down as soon as you’re done with that transaction. That is infinitely more risky than going on Amazon, where it’s secured computers talking on an encrypted network. The people who are kind of afraid of it — I don’t think they understand how it actually works and how there are so many other things out there that are infinitely riskier that they have an actual comfort level with.
Some of the big companies like Amazon, it would not surprise me to see in some of their marketing campaigns that they emphasize that they are in a secure environment, but I think the general public does not understand what ‘secure’ means. You know when you have these little padlock symbols on your computer? A lot of people don’t know about those. I’d say about 50% of the people don’t even know to look for that to know they are on a secured website, or even looking at the http line. If it’s got the https, that means it’s a secured server. There are so many things that people are just kind of clueless about in terms of security. I don’t think they even realize that if companies spend money upping their security level even higher than it is, I don’t think that would affect people anyway. I think maybe saying shop at our secured site, just saying that in a copy line, would be the most impactful thing to do.
IB: Can more savvy online consumers take proactive steps to protect themselves before the holiday shopping season gets in full swing, or do the merchants basically do that for them, as you suggest?
Noll: One of the things, obviously, is looking for things, looking for the padlock, checking to make sure that you are on a secured server. So those are probably the two easiest things, especially the padlock. Just double-checking when you go on, especially if it’s an e-commerce website you’re not familiar with. If it’s not an Amazon or an eBay, making sure that they are acknowledging they are making this transaction securely. That would be the number one thing that people need to be aware of, is just the general, simple clues when you’re online that say you’re on a secure shopping site.
IB: Is there any promising technology or “app” that consumers can use to remain in control of the personal data that merchants have on them — if they have any qualms about how it’s used or shared?
Noll: Here’s the thing with apps. We’re starting to see some third-party apps that people are promoting as something that can be used for more security, but there have also been some stories that some of these companies are scams, that they are using people’s paranoia about the recent news stories to almost scam people to download their app and run it and we will make sure your data is secure. What they are actually doing is they are collecting information from people and using it maliciously. I would caution people against downloading or using some new technology from a company you never head of just because it promises you security.
Something like this security scare, which has gotten people so emotional, is exactly what con artists will prey on. That emotional freak-out is the recipe con artists look for to take advantage of people. Certainly, if you are using an app from Amazon and Amazon says we have this new version of an app and you can update this app for added security, well then you would definitely want to do that. If you’re going out to find something, I would do some research on the company before you pay them or use them. It’s just ripe for scams.
September 23, 2013
From wisconsinrapidstribune.com: “Clinic gives pet owners chance to provide protection for four-legged friends” – South Wood County Humane Society employees and volunteers turned Robinson Park into a clinic over the weekend to encourage healthier and safer pets.
During the Humane Society’s annual Pet Vaccine and Microchip Clinic, a veterinarian administered rabies and distemper vaccines and implanted microchips for identification. The clinic gives pet owners a lower-cost chance to protect their dogs and cats, said Bridget Chariton, Humane Society executive director.
Also, she said, “a high number (of Wisconsin Rapids pets) are not microchipped.”
Chariton expected to place microchips in 200 to 250 pets on Saturday.
The veterinarian places the microchip in the fatty tissue on the back of the dog or cat’s neck. Humane Society employees then register the animal, and when someone scans the animal with a hand-held wand, it picks up the signal from the chip.
Blue, an energetic three-legged female blue heeler, already has a microchip but was at the clinic Saturday to get vaccinated, said Sher Mosley, Blue’s owner.
Mosley found Blue abandoned in a barn and rescued the dog. The pair do a lot of camping and Mosley said she would miss her canine companion, if anything happened to her.
“This is my second year (at the clinic),” Mosley said. “I love it; it gives people who couldn’t otherwise afford it a chance to get their dogs immunized.”
Roxann Cote of Wisconsin Rapids said she’d been telling her husband they should get their Yorkie, Sammy, a microchip for a long time. Cote previously had a Yorkie that ran away, and she wanted to be sure Sammy is safe, if he should decide to chase a rabbit or squirrel.
On Saturday, the couple brought Sammy to get his microchip.
“We live in the city and anything can happen,” Cote said. “He’s a spoiled dog. We’d feel terrible if anything happened to him.”
Most animal shelters scan all incoming cats and dogs for microchips, Chariton said. Pets frequently lose collars and tags, which are designed to come off easily to prevent dogs from becoming choked. The chips often are the only way to quickly identify an owner.
Although people most frequently think of placing a microchip in their dog, it’s important to give cats protection, too, Chariton said. Cats can often slip out of homes, and it has to happen only once to lose the pet.
This past summer, the shelter was able to return Ace the cat to his Arizona family when staff members found and scanned the feline’s chip. The Siamese cat had disappeared from his Tuscon, Ariz., home about 10 months earlier, and no one knew how he had gotten to Wisconsin.
The South Wood County Humane Society provides the vaccines only once a year but will place microchips in pets any day the shelter is open. The cost is $25, and people can call 715-423-0505 to schedule an appointment.
September 12, 2013
From wkow.com: “Inside the new MATC health ed building” – A new health education building is open this semester at Madison College.
The new addition allows students to have hands-on experience in the medical field, with rooms simulating hospitals, hospice facilities, and triage situations.
“In this building here we have theory they teach, they practice in the same space. And then the next day they go out to the clinical site and actually implement what they’ve learned here,” said Mark Lausch of the School of Health Education.
The more than $40 million dollar project was approved by voters in a 2010 referendum.
1,100 students were surveyed to get their ideas on what they wanted to see, as well as the faculty and stakeholders.
September 11, 2013
From madisonaudubon.blogspot.com: “New homes for Madison’s downtown birds” – On a hot and humid weekend in July, Madison College student, Amanda Vang, ventured out from the air-conditioning, and led a group of volunteers in constructing 20 songbird houses.
Amanda is taking a summer course at Madison College which includes a service learning project with a local organization. She noticed the increasing construction of suburbs and cities, and wanted to help attract and create safe habitat for birds in the Madison downtown area. In her proposal she says,
“Madison Audubon is all about bringing people together to benefit nature, and this is what my project does… A simple bird house is going to encourage people to pay closer attention to the environment, and learn about the changes going on around it”.
|One of Amanda’s volunteers found some shade!|
So, the Madison Audubon office teamed up with Amanda to sponsor her project. She hoped to build 20 songbird houses, and donate them to downtown residents in Madison. Amanda worked hard raising funds for the materials, consulting with our bird expert, Karen Etter Hale, on appropriate birdhouse designs, picking out the wood, and finally assembling the 20 birdhouses!
This songbird house design (which can be found on the Cornell website) provides safe habitat for many species, including the House Wren, Black-Capped Chickadee, White-Breasted Nuthatch, Prothonotary Warbler, Deer Mouse, Whitefooted Mouse, and more.
|Though building birdhouses isn’t hard, it does require the
right materials, and a bit of patience. Way to go, Amanda!
September 9, 2013
From wiscnews.com: “Learning the ropes of Reedsburg” — By Julie Belschner - From Los Angeles to Reedsburg, it’s a bit of culture shock for Dr. Jack E. Daniels III. But the Chicago native, who is now the president of Madison Area Technical College, knows this area well. As a child, he came to Wisconsin Dells on camping trips.
This week he was in Reedsburg to meet with staff, faculty, students and the public at MATC’s Reedsburg campus.
“This is my second time here,” he said. “I was here for a tour during the interview process. Today I got really good input. What you’re coming into is a facility that serves this community well. The students seem to be engaged. We have great instructors. Those are all good things.
“There are no bad things. The staff here all has one focus – on the students. And that’s true throughout the district.”
He comes to the job after serving since 2006 as president of Los Angeles Southwest College, an 8,000-student school that’s part of the sprawling Los Angeles Community College district. It was formed in 1967 in the wake of the Watts race riots to improve educational opportunities for the area’s then-majority black population.
He has been credited with helping the college be more accessible to the area’s now-majority Latino population, boosting their enrollment from 20 percent of the student body when he started to 36 percent today.
“His unwavering commitment to student success and a positive collaborative work environment for all involved in the college, plus his commitment to partnering with the community to meet the needs of industry and business, put him in an excellent position to lead us,” said Janice Bultema at the time of his selection. The District Board member was on the three-person search committee for a new president.
She said that beyond his record as an administrator, it was feedback received from various campus groups that helped cinch the decision to hire Daniels.
“What we heard loud and clear from all the sessions is people really like his interpersonal style and his engaging interaction with others,” she said.
Serving others is Daniels’ aim, he said Wednesday.
“We talked about classes, about what types of programs they’d like to see, about books, the cost of books,” he said of the day’s meetings with students. “They’d like the ability to have programs here that may be offered in a different area. Many don’t like to travel. They like the class size here; there is more engagement with the instructors.”
One example, he said, is the culinary program that is offered in Madison. If Reedsburg students want to be in it, they currently need to travel to Madison. That, he said, might be difficult, especially in winter.
“It’s too soon to tell what I might change,” he said. “I’m taking the first few weeks to observe and listen. I’ll have some findings, and then analyze them, and present them back to the district. I anticipate the first of November I’ll be able to do that.”
He has eight campuses to observe and listen at, so getting around to all eight is a task, he added.
Surprisingly, not that many things are different than in LA.
“There are some obvious things,” he said. “The size is smaller, and in California each college campus is separately accredited, not like here. But there are similar programs. We have a college focus on trade and technology.”
When asked how ACT-10 will affect his plans at MATC, Daniels said he needs to set up a plan for open dialogue between staff and faculty.
“We actually have three collective bargaining units here,” he said. “The staff, part-time faculty and full-time faculty. The current contract ends March 2014, so I’ve got no time. I want to have something put together by the first of the year. There are so many unknowns. While a few colleges have handbooks, there is no framework, nothing to follow.
“But I strongly believe in shared decision making.”
Daniels took over at the school Aug. 19. He earned his doctorate at Wright Institute Graduate School of Psychology in Berkeley, Calif., and his Bachelor’s degree at Huntington University in Indiana.
September 6, 2013
From hngnews.com: “Lothe earns bachelor degree from Madison Area Technical College/Franklin University recently” – Three Madison Area Technical College students were awarded a bachelor’s degree at a commencement ceremony May 12. However, the degree awarded was not from Madison Area Technical College, but rather from Franklin University, Columbus, Ohio.
The graduates included Mandy Lothe, DeForest – Allied Healthcare Management.
Lothe completed her degree by participating in a unique educational alliance between Madison Area Technical College and Franklin University. That program allows students in the U.S. to combine on campus coursework at their local community college with online classes through Franklin to complete their degree.
Madison Area Technical College is one of more than nearly 270 community colleges across the U.S. that has formed an educational alliance with Franklin University. The Community College Alliance was established to provide students the opportunity to earn their bachelor’s degree online while remaining in their community.
August 21, 2013
From wkow.com: “Daniels takes over as president at Madison College” – The new president at Madison Area Technical College is settling in.
President Jack Daniels started his new job Monday.
During an interview with 27 News, Daniels talked about presiding over a growing college, that will open four new buildings on its main campus this school year.
“You can build these great buildings but what happens inside those walls? And so, my focus is really on how have we engaged our students? How we help them meet their goals?”
Daniels comes to Madison College from Los Angeles Southwest College. But he’s not a stranger to the Midwest, also spending time as president of Lincoln Land Community College in Springfield, Illinois.
August 19, 2013
From wisconsinoutdoorfun.com: “DNR’s ‘Hunting for Sustainability’ course for novice hunters open for enrollment” – MADISON — People who like to eat good food while supporting the environment and learning something about their state can register for a Hunting for Sustainability course being offered this fall.
“Natural resources conservation, sustainability and hunting naturally fit hand in hand,” says Keith Warnke, Department of Natural Resources hunting and shooting sports coordinator, who created the course. Since its launch in 2012, the course has grown in popularity and more sections are expected to be added.
“Hunting is an integral part of the fabric of Wisconsin life and a great source for locally produced food,” Warnke says.
The Department of Natural Resources in partnership with Madison College is offering at least two continuing education courses that aim to show how hunting plays into conservation and healthy living. Students will learn hunting skills, ethics, tools and techniques from experienced hunters. And, students may have the opportunity to participate in a mentored-deer or -pheasant hunting experience.
Be a healthy eater; learn from experienced hunters Warnke says the course’s objective is to reach adults who have never had a chance to hunt to experience one of the state’s traditions. “There are barriers in knowledge and equipment needed to get started if you weren’t raised a hunter. This course is an opportunity for adults to get started with guidance from experienced hunters.”
The program is the result of a few pilot events aimed at recruiting adult hunters – also known as Learn to Hunt events. Learn to Hunt events have proven popular with kids and in particular with the children of hunters. “But when we offer them to adults, interest went through the roof,”Warnke says. “In particular, young adults have jumped at the opportunity. So we realize there is a demand to learn to hunt and last year offered this course to 20 people. This we are expanding and hope to have even more courses coming soon.”
Telephone registration is available through Madison College at 608-246-6210.
August 7, 2013
From wiscnews.com: “MATC-Reedsburg offering new programs” – Madison Area Technical College-Reedsburg is offering the following new programs: Finance, Human Resource Management, Small Business Entrepreneurship, and Human Services Associate. Either all or the majority of the courses can be taken at the Reedsburg campus.
The Finance program provides the educational background and training required for entry positions in banks, savings and loan associations, finance companies, credit unions, real estate, insurance, financial planning, government, or mercantile and manufacturing enterprises. Job experience and continuing education provide qualifications for advancement. Finance relates to the management of, not necessarily the accounting for, monetary affairs.
The Human Resource Management program provides a well-rounded study in the Human Resources profession within the context of the fundamentals of business organization, finance, management and related studies. This program provides the student with training necessary for employment and advancement on the job in Human Resource Management and allied occupations. Graduates are prepared to complete bachelor degrees at four-year institutions.
The Human Services Associate program trains people to provide information, support, care and advocacy in a human service agency. Students acquire skills needed to work with individuals, groups and communities.
The Small Business Entrepreneurship program provides prospective small-business owners/entrepreneurs with the principles involved in planning and operating a small business. Attention is given to small business appraisal and opportunities; developing a written business/marketing plan; and advertising, public relations, direct mail and sales promotion plans. Marketing concepts include planning, forecasting, segmentation, product strategy, product mix, pricing and distribution. The program also provides an introduction to the basic principles, concepts and theories of business and non-business selling, and their application to an actual sales presentation. Special attention is given to personal development and self-image concepts.
Stop in at the Reedsburg campus at 300 Alexander Ave. for a listing of fall classes or call at 524-7800.
July 25, 2013
From hngnews.com: “Tribune Profile — Taryn Meinholz: She photographs special moments” – Taryn Meinholz has two passions: her 5-year-old daughter, Tenlee, and her photography. Graduating from Middleton High School, Meinholz didn’t have any idea of what she wanted to do from then on. She attended Madison Area Technical College for general computer classes before she decided to move to Lake of the Ozarks, Mo. She became an office manager at a construction and roofing company.
“It was awesome waking up on a lake. It was like being on vacation,” Meinholz said.
But reality set in and she returned home. In 2008, Meinholz welcomed her daughter, Tenlee, to the world. After her daughter’s birth, Meinholz began snapping photos.
“I wanted to capture every moment,” Meinholz said.
When she developed the pictures, Meinholz noticed she had a knack for taking pictures that she wasn’t aware of before. She went ahead and purchased her first Digital Single Lens Reflex (or DSL) camera, a move up from her point and shoot device. She also accepted a job at Wisconsin Mutual Insurance Company in policy services. She enjoyed the job but found it not to be as satisfying as when she first started. If she was going to make any changes and give up time with her daughter, she knew it would have to be for something she really loved doing.
Meinholz was enjoying her new camera so much she decided to enroll in MATC’s photography program. After being on the waiting list for one and half years, Meinholz received her acceptance letter and then hesitated, questioning her willingness to commit to this major endeavor.
With a “if I don’t do it now, I never will” attitude, Meinholz went full speed ahead becoming a full-time student with a part-time job.
“My family and work were very supportive,” Meinholz said. “I committed myself to get through in two years.”
Classes included lighting, Photoshop and editing, as well as video classes among others. Students were required to shadow a professional photographer to execute all the processes that were learned in the classroom, observe the work flow and body language of a professional studio.
Meinholz started taking extended family photos and used friends for school projects. She graduated in 2012 staying true to her two-year timeframe.
“We were the first class to graduate all-digital,” Meinholz said.
Meinholz has learned her camera inside and out, but it is can still be a challenge to be quick in full manual mode.
Blending together all she learned, Meinholz dove head first into the real world of photography and started accepting wedding assignments. An acquaintance trusted her enough to give her the opportunity. With only a mock wedding experience during school, Meinholz’s first actual wedding was very nerve racking. Meinholz brought a fellow student for moral support and picture backup.
“Weddings can be a one-shot opportunity. I can’t tell the bride I missed the first kiss or that my hard drive crashed,” Meinholz said.
All turned out well and with that trust came the confidence to keep going. This year, Meinholz has 13 weddings booked for summer and fall. And she enjoys every minute of it.
“I tell the brides. ‘Don’t be offended, but I’m the boss,’ ” Meinholz said. “Bride’s don’t realize how fast the day goes.”
There is a timeline for the day and expectations of the bride and groom of certain pictures. Family pictures are done right away before everyone goes in different directions. Meinholz recognizes the important parts of the wedding and then she likes to fill in with small unexpected details, and everyone is pleasantly surprised. As time goes on, Meinholz feels more laidback and prepared.
“I don’t stress out. I want it to be fun for the bride and me,” Meinholz said.
Weddings can end up being a 14-hour day taking three hours to upload pictures with six to 10 hours of editing.
“I love to present the end result,” Meinholz said.
Meinholz works out of her home where she rents a farmhouse with her sister. Most of her work is done in natural lighting. Portraits are her favorite whether they are senior pictures or family events.
“I love being able to capture personalities,” Meinholz said.
But she has to remind herself that clients aren’t models.
“Clients don’t know what makes a good picture,” Meinholz said.
As the professional, Meinholz needs to convey what does. Meinholz gets her own picture taken once in a while just to remember what it’s like to be the client.
Meinholz loves taking pictures of children.
“I love having a 2-year-old in a field, and the parents and I are doing all kinds of things for that one smile. It’s very entertaining,” Meinholz said.
Friends are beginning their families and taking photos of newborns also thrills Meinholz. Meinholz continues working part time for Wisconsin Insurance. Acquiring different professional equipment, such as extra lenses, can be a major investment.
“It’s very rewarding. It is so unexpected for me to have this passion and be recognized for it. I would not be here without the support of my family. They take up a lot of my slack, but they love every minute of it. It keeps us close,” Meinholz said.
Most of Meinholz’s free time is spent with her first and favorite photographic subject, her daughter.
July 19, 2013
From channel3000.com: “Madison College celebrates opening of new building” – MADISON - Madison College celebrated the opening of its new Gateway Building on the Truax Campus Thursday.
MATC dedicated the building’s welcome center to outgoing president Dr. Bettsey Barhorst.
The building houses several lounges, a student achievement center, a gallery and a library, and as the first building on the campus, it will be used to welcome people to Madison College.
“We are so grateful to the taxpayers and voters who voted for the referendum in 2010 when things were not really good. And then the people who had it built in two years,” said Barhorst.
Barhorst will be leaving the college next month and moving to Illinois to be closer to family but she said she’s loved living and working in Madison.
Proceeds from the ticketed event that was hosted by the Madison College Foundation will support student scholarships and educational programs.
From madison.com: “MATC board selects Jack Daniels as new school president” – Growing up, Jack E. Daniels III joined his family on camping trips in Wisconsin Dells, roadtripping from their home on the South Side of Chicago for a week or more away amid the carnival rides and theme park attractions.
Now, the longtime community college administrator will return to the area as president of Madison Area Technical College, having impressed the college’s District Board with his background as a collaborative, inclusive leader.
“His unwavering commitment to student success and a positive collaborative work environment for all involved in the college, plus his commitment to partnering with the community to meet the needs of industry and business put him in an excellent position to lead us,” said Janice Bultema, a District Board member who was on the three-person search committee.
The college’s board approved the hire in a closed session vote last Thursday night and spent Friday hammering out terms of Daniels’ contract. The school announced the hire Monday.
He agreed to a three-year contract with a starting salary of $238,000, more than his current pay but slightly less than the $239,837 base salary of outgoing President Bettsey Barhorst.
Daniels is scheduled to start on Aug. 19. Barhorst, MATC president since 2004, agreed to stay on until Daniels takes over.
He comes to the job after serving since 2006 as president of Los Angeles Southwest College, an 8,000-student school that’s part of the sprawling Los Angeles Community College district. It was formed in 1967 in the wake of the Watts race riots to improve educational opportunities for the area’s then-majority African-American population.
He has been credited with helping the college be more accessible to the area’s now-majority Latino population, boosting their enrollment from 20 percent of the student body when he started to 36 percent today.
Daniels said he made a concerted effort to lure Latinos, focusing on hiring more of the group from the community and hosting cultural events and forums that made Latinos feel welcome.
“He did it without alienating people,” said Rocky Young, former chancellor of the L.A. community college district who hired Daniels to lead Southwest, first as interim president in 2006 then to the permanent job in 2008.
“It was a question of embracing one group without alienating other people,” he said.
Daniels was one of three finalists for the MATC presidency, along with Stephen Curtis, president of Community College of Philadelphia, and Ann Valentine, chancellor of Wabash Valley Region Ivy Tech Community College of Indiana. Each visited campus last week for public forums and private interviews.
Bultema said that beyond his record as an administrator, it was feedback received from various campus groups that helped cinch the decision to hire Daniels.
“What we heard loud and clear from all the sessions is people really like his interpersonal style and his engaging interaction with others,” she said.
At a gathering last week, Daniels told staff and students at MATC that his
No. 1 goal is the students, and it should remain the No. 1 goal of staff after union contracts expire in 2014.
Bultema said the board was sufficiently satisfied with Daniels’ explanation when asked about his controversial 2005 resignation as president of Lincoln Land Community College in Springfield, Ill.
He left the job with two years left on his contract and no job lined up after the board learned he was in a romantic relationship with the school’s human resources coordinator.
The relationship between Daniels, then 54, and Kimila Yuncker, then 34, began in 2004 when both were married to someone else, according to the State Journal-Register newspaper in Springfield.
Both eventually got divorced and later married. They’re still married today and will soon celebrate their ninth anniversary, Daniels said.
Daniels always denied that the relationship caused him to be forced out, and members of the Lincoln Land board have declined comment.
The board issued a statement at the time that Daniels sought “a new path in his career.”
In an interview Monday, Daniels said he voluntarily resigned to continue his relationship.
“I wanted to make sure it was open and to do that I resigned,” he said.
Bultema said that the MATC District Board discussed the issue with Daniels and that she had heard it came up in at least one other meeting last week.
Board members and others came away satisfied with his candor and explanation, she said.
Young, who hired Daniels to the job in Los Angeles a year after his resignation in Springfield, said his explanation at the time also was sufficient, and he’s glad he hired Daniels.
“I think you got a good person,” he said. “I really am a supporter. I think he took a pretty difficult situation (at Southwest) and really did a good job of transforming the college.”
July 1, 2013
From madison.com: “In child care evolution, ramifications for everyone” — By Doug Erickson - After Wisconsin started rating child care centers a couple of years ago, Stacy Reinacher knew how the phone calls from prospective customers were going to go.
Her small, in-home center in Madison earned just two stars out of five — the most common rating and nothing to be ashamed of, yet disappointing to some parents.
“You’d say two stars, and they’d be like, ‘Really, that’s it?’ And then you wouldn’t hear from them again,” said Reinacher, 37, who operates Stacy’s Quality Daycare.
What tripped up Reinacher was the same thing keeping so many providers from getting higher ratings: a lack of college credits. The rating system, called YoungStar, puts a premium on educational attainment. Centers are stuck at a two-star rating unless at least some of their workers get college-credit-based training.
That’s sent hundreds of child care workers, including Reinacher, back to college — or to college for the first time.
It’s not an easy proposition. Caring for children is exhausting work, and turnover is high in the field. Then there’s the financial aspect.
“These folks aren’t making much money — the average is about $11 an hour,” said Dave Edie, who led the state’s child care office for years. “The question becomes, ‘Why should I get a degree and continue to make $11 an hour?’”
The state is trying to address these barriers, particularly through a popular scholarship program.
Some child care workers welcome this move toward college training, saying it will professionalize the field and finally put to rest the “baby sitter” label. Others, especially veteran providers with decades of experience, say the emphasis on college training is misplaced, even insulting.
Regardless, YoungStar has triggered a fundamental shift in child care in the state.
“I’ve often told my employees that there will come a day when you won’t be able to work in this field without having at least some college training,” said Sharlot Bogart, owner of Teddy’s Place in Sun Prairie and a child care provider for more than 40 years. “That day is coming very soon.”
Four key areas
The YoungStar system rates centers from one to five stars, although two stars is really the practical base. (One-star centers don’t meet basic health and safety standards and usually are in the process of being shut down.)
A center gets rated in four key areas: staff educational qualifications; learning environment; the professionalism of business practices; and the approach to child health and wellness.
Of the 4,571 child care centers that have been rated through YoungStar, the biggest chunk by far, 2,910 or 64 percent, earned two stars. That means they meet all state health and safety standards.
State officials always said most centers would get two stars, at least initially. That’s because the state’s previous approach to licensing focused on health and safety. YoungStar pushes a center to think much more about its early learning curriculum — and whether it has the qualified staff to teach it.
“The better trained the staff members are, the more knowledgeable they are about the stages of child development, and we feel that’s crucial,” Edie said. “You can even have a fairly questionable setting, but if the teachers know how to work with kids, they can do great things.”
The Wisconsin Council on Children and Families, where Edie now works, recently crunched the numbers and found the greatest barrier to a center moving up to three stars is a lack of staff education.
Reinacher does not have a college degree. But on a recent afternoon at her in-home center, she pulled a hefty binder from a shelf and paged through the records from all of the continuing education classes she’s taken in the past decade — 192 hours’ worth.
Those non-credit classes improved her skills and helped her maintain her state license, but they didn’t help her move up the rating’s ladder. She couldn’t become a three-star center unless she earned at least 12 college credits — typically four college courses. Her competitiveness kicked in.
“I wanted to better myself,” she said. “And I didn’t want to be a two-star center like everyone else.”
So 18 months ago, she began taking online classes through UW-Platteville, often sitting down to hours of homework after an exhausting day of caring for six children.
She earned a three-star rating a couple of months ago and is continuing to take classes in hopes of one day acquiring enough credits for a two-year associates degree, giving her a shot at an even higher rating. At her current pace, that would take another three years.
The classes are sometimes a physical drain but have not been a financial one for Reinacher. To encourage education, the state offers scholarships to child care workers through a $4.7 million annual program that goes by the acronym TEACH.
The scholarships predate YoungStar, but the demand for them has increased dramatically in the last two years. It would be hard to find a government program more beloved right now.
“TEACH is doing amazing things,” said Krystle Lisk, owner of Just 4 Kidz in Cuba City, a two-star center.
She’s taking the second of six college courses she needs for her center to move up to a three-star rating. Her scholarship pays 55 percent of the tuition, plus a stipend for gas and books. Her cost per course is about $400.
The scholarships are even more helpful to employees of child care centers because the employer also ponies up some money. And once the courses are completed, the employer agrees to provide either a one-time bonus (usually around $200) or a raise of 1 to 2 percent.
For Christina Smith, 32, an employee of Play Haven Child Care in Sun Prairie, the scholarship means she pays only 20 percent of the costs, or about $150 per course at Madison Area Technical College. In return, she commits to staying with her employer for at least a year after her scholarship contract is completed.
Smith works full time, plus races to classes over lunch and at night.
“Believe it or not, I’m actually really enjoying it — I’m on the Dean’s List, I’m earning high honors — and I’m able to apply what I’m learning directly in the classroom,” she said.
She’s one of 1,089 child care workers across the state on a TEACH scholarship right now. Funding for the program is stable, and so far the program has been able to enroll all applicants who meet eligibility guidelines, said Autumn Gehri of the Wisconsin Early Childhood Association, which runs the program for the state.
There’s another big motivator in this push toward college credits. Centers that care for low-income children get more money through a state-subsidy program if they have more stars. That’s part of the state’s goal of getting more low-income children into higher-quality child care.
When YoungStar kicked in, centers rated two stars actually lost 5 percent of their state reimbursement. This was especially galling to these centers, because the overall reimbursement rate for everyone has been frozen since 2006.
“We’d done nothing wrong, yet our wages essentially were being cut,” said Jaime Steindorf, owner of centers in Columbus and Rio, both called Braids N’ Britches.
Her Columbus center initially earned two stars. Steindorf said she sat down her employees and “begged” them to consider college training. To get three stars, at least two of her four lead classroom teachers needed to each pass two college-level courses, and she needed to complete courses as well.
Five of her eight employees signed on, and the center now is a three-star. Steindorf has mixed feelings about YoungStar.
“Honestly, I have to say that the two most highly educated people I ever hired turned out to be my two least-desirable teachers,” she said. “I think education is important, but experience should count for something as well.”
This has become a common complaint among veterans in the field, said Karen Natoli, a coordinator of the early childhood education program at Madison Area Technical College. Natoli supports YoungStar but sympathizes with experienced providers who now need credit-based training.
“It’s almost insulting to them because, frankly, many of these providers are wonderful and have been doing high-quality child care for years,” Natoli said.
The state has responded by working with colleges to offer classes that grant credit for prior learning, through mechanisms such as opt-out tests, direct classroom observation and portfolios that document skills.
MATC tries to honor what these providers have done by drafting them as mentors for younger students. Yet it also stresses to these experienced providers the value of credit-based education, Natoli said.
“The brain research in just the last 10 years is so different from what I studied in college,” she said. “I feel like I’m always learning something new, and that’s the approach we’re trying to bring to this, to help make every teacher more exceptional.”
From wiscnews.com: “Supervisors get insight into leadership training for department heads” – Fourteen Columbia County supervisors Tuesday got what Mike Baldwin called a “crash course” in the management and leadership training that county department heads have undergone since the beginning of this year.
Baldwin, business and industry services account manager for Madison Area Technical College, said role-playing, case studies and conversations among the department heads have been just some of the tools used to help department heads discern the distinctions between leadership and management.
Management, in a nutshell, entails putting out fires, Baldwin said, whereas leadership entails considering ways to keep fires from igniting in the future.
County Board Chairman Andy Ross had invited all supervisors, but particularly those who lead the County Board’s 13 governing committees, to get a glimpse of the training that department heads are receiving through MATC.
There was $20,000 set aside in the county’s 2013 budget, according to Ross, to offer management-leadership training for department heads, including those who hold elected posts.
For next year’s budget, Ross said he will propose setting aside an additional $20,000 to extend the training to employees in supervisory positions who report directly to a county department head.
And, County Board members — especially those who might be elected to their first term in April 2014 — likely will undergo some form of leadership training, Ross said. For the last two County Board election cycles, newly elected supervisors had an orientation session that lasted a few hours; Ross said he’s looking for something a little more in-depth than that.
Baldwin said one of the things he heard frequently from county department heads during their training sessions was that County Board members, too, should have leadership training.
Supervisor Susan Martin, chairwoman of the County Board’s human resources committee, said she would like to find a way to quantify the extent to which department heads use the abilities gained in the training, and incorporate them into the annual evaluation that each department head undergoes with his or her governing committee.
Supervisor Fred Teitgen, chairman of the planning and zoning committee, said there are times when department heads need the skills of a manager to accomplish day-to-day tasks, and times when they need the skills of a leader to create a long-term vision for their departments.
“You need to know when to utilize those two roles,” Teitgen said.
Baldwin said all department heads were interviewed individually, and underwent an online evaluation of their leadership skills, before the department heads began monthly group training.
Ross said he does not have the data from either the interviews or the online evaluations, because he does not want department heads to fear that any of them are being targeted.
Trust, Baldwin said, has emerged as a value that department heads hold as vital. They’re not saying that there is a lack of trust between the department heads and elected officials who oversee their work, he said — only that maintaining trust is important.