From “Madison College New Century Scholar recognized in D.C.” — Madison College student, Makiko Omori was recognized as a New Century Scholar representing Wisconsin at the 56th Annual President’s Breakfast at the AACC convention in Washington D.C. This scholarship was offered by Coca-Cola foundation through Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society.

“It was an honor to attend the ceremony and it was inspiring meeting other mission minded scholars who succeeded academically and professionally despite the personal hardship and adversity they faced. It was overwhelming to see how many people, staff, and family came down to D.C. to support us,” Omori said. “I cannot thank Madison College enough for creating an environment for me to grow, succeed, and develop personally and professionally.”

Omori, who serves as vice president of scholarship of the Madison College chapter of Phi Theta Kappa, recognizes the importance of proactively seeking scholarships to ensure degree completion. She offered four scholarship workshops at Madison College campuses this semester alone to help her fellow students make schooling more affordable and degree completion more realizable.

Bryan Woodhouse, Dean of Madison College’s School of Business and Applied Arts also attended the Annual President’s Breakfast. “Makiko is very deserving of this honor as a New Century Scholar.  We are incredibly proud of her accomplishment and proud to have her represent Madison College among many accomplished scholars from around the nation.”



From “New Ingenuity Center hopes to connect unemployed workers with manufacturing jobs” – The Ingenuity Center at Madison Area Technical College is the 8th and final building renovation as part of the 2010 referendum. The center has been open since the beginning of Fall semester, but on Wednesday afternoon college officials held a ceremonial ribbon cutting ceremony.

The ceremony itself showcased the overall goal of the new center. Instead of simply cutting a ribbon with a pair of scissors, the ceremony ended with a student-programmed robot cutting a poly cord. College officials say the poly cord symbolized the more than 50 programs that use the Ingenuity Center to teach classes. Nearly every program uses the material in some shape or form.

“It is 62,000 square feet of lab and classroom space dedicated to advancing Wisconsin manufacturing,” Interim Dean of Applied Science, Engineering and Technology Denise Reimer says.

Business analysts say manufacturing is a growing sector in many parts of the country, one that is experiencing a major gap in employment. Openings are available, but managers are having a tough time finding skilled workers to fill them. They’re workers like single mother of four Rose Appleton.

“I’m excited about what I can learn and what I can do,” Appleton says. “The robotics program and the fact that I will be able to work with metal and program a machine. To do so is just pheonomenal.”

After working many years in retail, Appleton found herself unemployed about two years ago. Through a grant she was able to take manufacturing classes and found herself a new job at Evco Plastics.

“Initially they declined me because I didn’t have the manufacturing skills. Once they found out I had the manufacturing certificate I was eligible to start at Evco,” Appleton says.

Not only is the center giving students new opportunities, it’s also causing increases in enrollment. This Spring college officials saw a 6% increase over last year, with signs pointing to more growth ahead.

“This is the answer, is bringing individuals here to give them those job ready skills so that they can go into the manufacturing environment,” Reimer says.

College officials say more than 50 programs will use the center to teach their classes. The space is used for a variety of programs, from automotive to biotechnology.

From “Okuma America Corporation and Madison Area Technical College partner to train the next generation of machinists and programmers” — Okuma America Corporation, a world-leader in CNC machine tool manufacturing, and Madison Area Technical College (MATC), a member of Partners in THINC, today announced their partnership to provide superior CNC education to students. The three-year partnership will deliver high quality hands-on training in service, repair, operation, programming, application and maintenance of Okuma machines as part of MATC’s machinist certificate and degree programs.

Madison Area Technical College will offer training led by NIMS certified, Level 1 instructors on Okuma CNC machines and simulators in the college’s new Ingenuity Center. In addition to providing equipment, Okuma will assist in developing content and programs that are aligned with Okuma’s workforce goals. “We’re pleased to join forces with MATC in CNC education. This partnership will provide a workforce pool to the local industry base that has the skills required to perform CNC related jobs,” said Lisa Rummel, chief financial officer at Okuma America.

Ribbon cutting ceremonies showcasing the Ingenuity Center will be held at MATC on Wednesday, April 9, 2014, at 3:30 p.m. Please visit for more information and to RSVP.


From “Former ag agent touts farm business education” — Randy Zogbaum was preaching to the choir.

It was a familiar choir — the Columbia County Board’s agriculture and land and water conservation committee. Zogbaum had been the agriculture agent for the University of Wisconsin-Extension Columbia County before leaving in late November 2008 to be education director for agriculture, natural resources and renewable energy with the Wisconsin Technical College System.

His message fell on receptive ears: Madison Area Technical College is here to help farmers manage the dollars and cents of agriculture.

“Whether you’re a fresh-market vegetable producer or have a 1,000-cow dairy herd, farming is still a business,” Zogbaum said.

Now an MATC agriculture instructor, Zogbaum came to Columbia County on Monday at the invitation of County Board Chairman Andy Ross to talk about a series of farm business classes — each lasting six weeks and offering 24 hours of instruction — that Zogbaum is helping to put together.

Zogbaum is based in Reedsburg, but he said many of MATC’s satellite campuses, including the one in Portage, are expected to offer the classes.

Some of the topics are:

• Understanding the farm business, mainly for people who are new to farming or who are contemplating launching a career in farming.

• Developing a farm business plan.

• Farm business analysis and decision making.

• Farm enterprise analysis and marketing.

• Long-term farm budgeting and management.

Kurt Calkins, Columbia County’s director of land and water conservation, said he thinks classes like these should include education on farmers’ compliance with state pollution control standards.

They will, Zogbaum said — the classes will show farmers the costs of non-compliance, the losses in profit that can result from using more fertilizer than is needed and the sources of financial assistance for farmers who want to (or have to) undertake a costly pollution-abatement project.

Committee member Mike Weyh, who is a farmer, said he was curious about whether the classes would address the sometimes-daunting process of navigating farm markets and determining when and where to sell farm commodities.

That will be addressed in the more advanced courses, Zogbaum said.

He said the classes can be taken sequentially, or experienced farmers can take only the more advanced classes.

Zogbaum said he would not teach all the classes; in fact, MATC is looking for adjunct instructors for the classes, most of which are expected to start this fall.

But some of the people sitting around the table for the committee’s meeting, he said, could play a role in the instruction. For example, Calkins could share information about cost-sharing programs offered by the state through county land and water conservation departments. And representatives from federal offices like the Natural Resources Conservation Service and the Farm Service Agency could show farmers how to tap into resources offered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The cost would be about $240 per course.

Zogbaum said MATC will put out a brochure sometime in the late summer to announce the classes’ schedule and locations where they will be offered.

From “State launches expanded, accelerated training program for trucking jobs” — Pewaukee – Governor Scott Walker made a stop at the Waukesha County Technical College today to announce the launch of a new program, designed to channel Wisconsin residents, including veterans, through accelerated training courses and into guaranteed placements at companies in the growing trucking industry.  Up to 300 Wisconsinites who pass eligibility screening will earn a commercial driver’s license (CDL) and advance to a placement at one of three Wisconsin trucking firms.

“Wisconsin’s transportation industry is experiencing a significant skills gap that will continue through at least 2020, and we need to act aggressively to address this issue,” Governor Walker said.  “Innovative approaches, like this accelerated training program, are the kinds of investments we need.  The incentive of a guaranteed placement at the conclusion of the program makes this initiative a win-win for employers and Wisconsin’s working families.”

The new CDL training program represents collaboration between the Department of Workforce Development (DWD), Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC), Wisconsin Department of Veterans Affairs (WDVA), Department of Transportation (DOT), Wisconsin Technical College System, transportation industry leaders, and three major Wisconsin employers: Schneider National of Green Bay, Roehl Transport of Marshfield, and WEL of De Pere.

The Fox Valley Technical College (FVTC) currently offers the course, and Waukesha County Technical College (WCTC) will begin offering it this summer.  The Chippewa Valley Technical College (CVTC) and Milwaukee Area Technical College (MATC) offer related instruction at their sites.

“As Wisconsin’s lead state agency for talent development, DWD supports innovative workforce solutions that prepare individuals for careers in growing industry sectors,” said DWD Secretary Reggie Newson.  “We were pleased to convene the workgroup that ultimately led to this new initiative.  Wisconsin workers benefit with skills training and guaranteed placements and participating employers benefit with a direct pipeline to fill their openings.  Both efforts benefit Wisconsin’s economy.”

“One of WEDC’s areas of emphasis is to work with our partners throughout Wisconsin to help expand workforce training systems, especially for the state’s key industries,” said Reed Hall, secretary and CEO of WEDC, the state’s lead economic development organization.  “There is no question that Wisconsin trucking companies need more qualified drivers to ensure their continued success, and the continued success of our economy.  We believe this program will play a key role in helping to fill that need.”

Up to 300 eligible job seekers will complete a four-week training course that results in a Commercial Driver’s License and a guaranteed placement at one of the three participating companies.  Once placed, the successful graduates will complete the standard introductory stage at the company and become a permanent hire.  Experienced semi-truck drivers can earn more than $23 per hour, or approximately 15 percent above the average wage in Wisconsin.

In the program, potential participants register on and complete a series of assessments to determine their eligibility.  Those deemed eligible will complete the four-week training course offered through FVTC or WCTC, and then be matched with a guaranteed placement at one of the three trucking employers.

Given a capacity of 300 placements, DWD is prioritizing veterans, dislocated workers, workers who receive federal Trade Adjustment Assistance, and certain individuals who are eligible for programs under the federal Workforce Investment Act.  The training and placements will be at no cost to the participant.  Other interested job seekers who are deemed eligible for the program will be asked to cover the $2,500 cost of the training.

The transportation companies’ hiring needs are in line with projections showing the need for semi-truck drivers will grow by 21 percent between 2010 and 2020, to more than 55,000 semi-truck drivers.

Governor Walker recently signed legislation as part of his Blueprint for Prosperity initiative to increase funds in the nationally-recognized Wisconsin Fast Forward by $35.4 million to focus on three key areas, including:

  • Grants to Wisconsin technical colleges to reduce wait lists in high-demand fields;
  • Collaborative projects among businesses, school districts, technical colleges, and educational partners to equip high school pupils with industry-recognized certifications in high-demand fields; and
  • Programs that enhance the employment opportunities for individuals with disabilities.

Additionally, the current round of Wisconsin Fast Forward grant program announcements includes $1 million in available funds for employer-driven worker training programs for transportations, logistics, and distribution occupations.  These funds can be used to train new workers for job openings or train existing workers that results in a wage increase.

Interested job seekers are encouraged to visit or contact their local Job Center, which can be located at

From “Local interior designers, projects earn ASID awards” — Local interior designers or projects were recently honored during the Wisconsin Chapter of the American Society of Interior Designers 38th-annual Celebration in Design Awards at Turner Hall Ballroom, Milwaukee.

The highly coveted Platinum Award was given in the Historic Renovation category to Laura Vander Sanden of Kahler Slater (with state offices in Madison and Milwaukee) for the Global Water Center project in Milwaukee.

The Platinum Award goes to the project that enhances the “best in show” for overall design. Gold, Silver and Bronze awards were given to projects in a variety of categories.

Patricia McGinnis of Potter Lawson, Madison, earned a Gold Award in the Educational category for The Stream at Edgewood College, Madison. McGinnis also won a Silver Award in the Healthcare/Medical category for projects 35,000 to 99,999 square-feet for the UW Health Digestive Health Center.

Lindsay Slack of Madison Area Technical College (MATC) won a Gold Award in the Student — Contract category for Mixed*Bag Co-Working Space, Madison.

Linda Moses of Plunkett Raysich Architects, Milwaukee, took a Silver Award in the Education category for MATC’s Student Achievement Center, Truax Campus, Madison.

Alexandra Weber of UW-Madison took a Silver Award in the Student — Contract category for Xchange Bar, Restaurant and Lounge, Madison. Weber also took a Bronze Award in the Student — Contract category for WCAA Marketing Group, Madison.

Andrew Krueger of H. Krueger & Associates, Middleton, took a Bronze Award in the Office/Corporate category for projects larger than 100,000 square feet for the Deep Space Auditorium at Epic in Verona.

From “Urban League’s Emerge Gala will honor young professionals and other local leaders” – By Mike Ivey – Young professionals in the Madison area, along with some of their mentors, will be recognized March 29 at the first Emerge Gala hosted by the Urban League of Greater Madison Young Professionals chapter.

The event is billed as bringing together diverse young professionals for an evening of celebration at the Concourse Hotel.

The “Emerging Leader of the Year Award” will be announced at the event.

Nominees are Althea René Miller, GED instructor at Omega School, Corinn Ploessl, marketing coordinator at Wegner CPAs, and Lauren Rock, 2-1-1 volunteer coordinator for United Way of Dane County.

“Trailblazer Awards” go to young professionals who have shown leadership within their company and industry. Recipients are Tawsif Anam, managed care policy analyst at Wisconsin Department of Health Services, Joe Maldonado, college continuation manager for the Boys & Girls Club of Dane County, and Ald. Scott Resnick, downtown Madison city council member.

“Impact Awards” go to community leaders who have established a record of consistent outreach to young professionals in the greater Madison area. Recipients are Judge Paul Higginbotham, Wisconsin Court of Appeals, and Oscar Mireles, executive director of Omega School, Inc.

The “Workplace Excellence Award” is going to Madison College for its demonstrated record of commitment to the development of young professionals.

In honor of the event, Madison Mayor Paul Soglin has designated March 29 as “Young Professionals Day in Greater Madison.”

Tickets for the semi-formal event, including dinner, are $40 with proceeds supporting the Young Professionals chapter of the Urban League along with its youth education programs including the Scholars Academy, Schools of Hope and Martin Luther King Day of Service.


From “Schrofer earns third in apprentice competition” — Dave Schrofer of Hill’s Wiring, Inc. took third place in the electrical category during the 2014 ABC of Wisconsin Skill Competition held Feb. 25 in Green Bay.

Schrofer, currently attending Madison College, was one of 25 ABC of Wisconsin apprentices from throughout the state who demonstrated their knowledge and craft skills in the competition, which included a four-hour practical and a two-hour written exam.

Apprentices worked on projects from specifications and blueprints; they focused on performing assigned tasks while employers, instructors, judges and others looked on. The competitors were scored on skill, workmanship, safety, and efficiency. The written, safety, and practical scores were then combined to determine the top three competitors in each trade.

From “Elkhorn farmer outlines opportunities for new farmers” – For a German city boy who wanted to farm, the yearning was fed by internships in Germany, Canada and Wisconsin.

The dream of farming came true for Altfrid Krusenbaum, who now has his own grass-based dairy farm near Elkhorn. He’s been in Wisconsin for 28 years. Today, one of his passions is helping other people who have that same passion to farm.

His 300-acre farm includes a herd of 140 dairy cows that calve seasonally in the spring so they can go out on the grass. He also grass-finishes 35 dairy steers for beef.

Krusenbaum, who spoke at a recent Columbia/Dodge winter grazing conference in Randolph, has been active in supporting the Wisconsin School for Beginning Dairy and Livestock Farmers at the University of Wisconsin and the state’s Dairy Grazing Apprenticeship program.

But he’s begun his own approach to fostering the next generation of dairy farmers — share milking. It’s a way for young couples to get into farming if they are willing to learn and work on another’s dairy farm.

Krusenbaum stresses that these share milkers should be couples because he feels there’s just too much work for one person alone.

More and more entrants, in the many programs to help beginning farmers in the state, are from non-farm backgrounds and need to acquire hands-on skills, he said.

Many young people don’t have the capital to begin farming, they’re bound in a traditional outlook on farming or they lack a positive outlook. He sees the state’s programs, including his own share milking program, as a way to potentially cure some of those ills.

The UW’s School for Beginning Dairy Farmers (before the “Livestock” was added) was begun by grass-based dairy farmers who saw the need for a formalized program to get new farmers started in the state. They approached the Center for Integrated Agricultural Systems (CIAS) to get it started.

The first students were from the UW Farm and Industry Short Course as well as students from the four-year farming programs at the university.

“This is really the only thing like it offered anywhere in the nation,” he said.

The course is expanding from its Madison location via the use of distance learning where students can follow seminars live on the internet and interact with the moderator.

Krusenbaum said that the students in Madison right now range in age from 19-55 years old. They study a winter curriculum, go on farm tours, attend conferences and can take advantage of internships. Their course of study includes business planning and all are encouraged to write a formal plan for their future farm so they can set and achieve goals into the future.

Speakers and mentors include successful farmers, UW specialists, ag lenders, veterinarians and successful business leaders.

The program has been going for 19 years and 440 students have gone through it. “More than three-quarters of them are farming and 50 percent of those have their own farms.”

The school has been supported by cooperatives and association who see the need to add new farmers to the agricultural economy in Wisconsin. Grass-based livestock production methods were chosen because the need for capital is less with these kinds of systems.

Apprenticeship needed

With the UW program up and running, many in the industry felt that there was a need for an accredited career path for the people who wanted to get their own farm started. Grassworks, a state grazing organization helped create the Dairy Grazing Apprenticeship program to help create a pathway to farm ownership for these future farmers.

The program includes 4,000 hours of paid training over two years — 3,712 hours of on-the-job training and instruction by the master grazer as well as 288 hours of related classroom instruction in collaboration with the state’s Technical College System.

Randy Zogbaum, the agriculture instructor with Madison Area Technical College noted that it is the first registered farm apprenticeship program in the United States. “It’s a huge accomplishment.”

The program allows the beginning farmer to develop skills and network with the dairy industry in the state.

For the master grazer, the program provides a “quality, ambitious, driven individual” who becomes a skilled worker by the end of two years, says Krusenbaum. The program also opens up the potential for a farm transfer from the mentor to the beginning farmer.

There are currently 28 approved Master Grazers who can take apprentices — but he says the program always needs more. The program has generated seven graduates. Three of them have their own farms, three are in equity-earning positions and one is a farm manager.

Over 60 candidates are waiting placement.

The program is helpful, says Krusenbaum, for traditional entrants who need management skills and for non-traditional entrants who need experience.

What students in so many of these programs have in common, he said, is the “dream to farm.”

New Zealand model

Krusenbaum has trained interns on his farm for 20 years but was really dissatisfied with how many ended up on working farms. They were lacking in business skills and had no equity.

In 1996 he learned of the share milking model in New Zealand, a country where milking cows is the number-one desired job among its citizens.

“With share milking they earn equity and hone their management skills. At the end they have a profitable tax record and equity. The risk is taken away from them.”

Krusenbaum has created a share milking program on his own farm because he feels it’s a great opportunity to pass on knowledge, assets and a legacy to a new generation.

For the mentor, it’s also a way to slow down a bit while still earning income from the farm. “There’s a great satisfaction to getting another farmer started.”

Like any social contract there has to be negotiation between the two parties. Share milkers provide most of the labor and management related to livestock and pastures.

The farm business owner provides all the forage that can be produced in an average year, an existing land base and all the necessary machinery and facilities.

At his farm Krusenbaum uses a three-year contract with the first six months being probationary.

The share milker gets 18 percent of the milk (they get their own Organic Valley producer number) and 18 percent of all the steers sold. In addition the share milker gets every fifth heifer calf born alive from March through May.

Income and animals

The beginning farmers also get the ability to raise their heifers on the farm and Krusenbaum provides them with the farm house to live in.

He said in general this provides about $45,000 in net farm income for the share milking couple and about 55 head of cattle after three years.

In New Zealand, he said, these kinds of arrangements have evolved into strictly cash models but he wanted to incorporate cattle ownership into the program because he felt it would give the beginning farmer more “buy-in” and get them involved on a higher level.

In addition to the income stream, share milkers are responsible for 18 percent of most variable expenses and the utilities at the house, he said.

Krusenbaum has been using this model since 2006 and admits it has had its ups and downs. “The biggest drawback is that very few people want to do it. It’s amazing how few applicants we get. I don’t know why it’s not more attractive to more people.”

For this kind of program to work, he said it is important to have on-farm housing for the share milking couple. “I really feel it’s important for the share milker to live on the farm.”

He recommends a trial period so both parties can feel comfortable with each other and the arrangement. “Anything can be fixed unless the personalities don’t work out.”

Krusenbaum feels that beginning farmers need a firm foundation under them, like the one they could gain from share milking or the apprenticeship program. He noted that of the dairy herds being sold through the Richland Center sale barn this year, one-third are those that started up in the last three years.

The state’s programs are a way for new dairy farmers to forge a career path.

Krusenbaum urged his grazing listeners to apply to become master grazers in the apprenticeship program and to consider share milking as an option.

For share milking, the farm needs to be a certain size and the farm needs to be a mature operation. “It needs to have low debt and the farm paid for. It can’t be something that started in the last few years.”

For more on Krusenbaum’s farm:

Other programs:

Dairy grazing apprenticeship:

From “Madison College and the Literacy Network team up to help a wide range of students with ESL” — They are Syrian immigrants and Bhutanese refugees. Spouses of visiting professors from Pakistan and au pairs from Ecuador. Studious mothers of 12 from Somalia whose turn it is, finally, to attend class.

Some, highly educated in their home country, arrive with advanced degrees. Others have never set foot inside a school and struggle to read and write in their native language.

Step into an English as a Second Language classroom at Madison College’s downtown campus, and you’ll find learners from 10 or 15 countries, and as many stations in life, practicing together.

“The clock is on the wall.” “Epiphane is Akugbe’s brother.” Or in higher levels, “Had I known you like reggae, I would have invited you.”

One of these students is Gilson Batista, who in just over a year has progressed from ESL level 1 to 5 (out of 6). Batista is here thanks to his wife, Sara, who found out about Madison College’s tuition-free, non-credit ESL courses and suggested he attend.

The two met in Batista’s hometown of Belo Horizonte, Brazil, four years ago. A longtime Madison resident, Sara was there studying Capoeira and improving her Portuguese. He had just begun studying philosophy at universidade and was working as a book binder and Capoeira teacher.

After marrying, the young couple settled in Madison. It was Batista’s first time in the U.S. He spoke a little English and Spanish, having taken several semesters of each in middle and high school, but not enough to resume life where he had left off.

Madison College’s School of Academic Advancement, where a third of the course offerings are ESL classes (others cater to GED/HSED students), is a major resource for new residents like Batista.

Another is the Literacy Network of Dane County, which provides small-group and one-on-one support to adult learners working toward their literacy goals.

For some, the goal is understanding their child’s teacher or pediatrician. Others want to find work to feed their families. Many just want to shake the paralyzing feeling of isolation and be a part of a community again. And then there are learners like Batista, who long to go back to school and earn a degree.

A partnership arose between the two agencies in 2011. In the pilot program, Literacy Network placed a tutor in the ESL classes of two Madison College instructors, Judy Emmrich and Ryan Roling.

The idea was for the classroom tutors, or CRTs as they are known, to play the role of teacher’s aide, giving learners the kind of individualized attention not usually available in most technical college settings. They might lead half the class in a speaking exercise, float the room to field questions, or give feedback to each student on completed homework.

Emmrich and Roling became strong advocates for the Classroom Tutor Program, and it quickly expanded. In its second year, 50 volunteers served 911 hours.

Emmrich, a teacher here for 12 years, praises the individual attention that students gain. “The tutoring has increased the retention in my classes and has helped to strengthen the strong sense of community.” Further, she notes, the CRTs “bring many rich and varied experiences into the room.”

Last year, 27 tutors from Literacy Network served 1,112 hours in Madison College’s ESL classes. Many are UW-Madison students, who find they get as much out of the experience by learning about other cultures and developing skills for their future.

Amy Krill, an AmeriCorps member and former classroom tutor who works with both agencies, manages the program. Literacy Network supports her in tutor recruitment, training and coordination. Both agencies provide office space, phones and supplies.

While Madison College would like to see more ESL students advance into credit courses, national statistics show the odds are against them. According to the Community College Consortium for Immigrant Education, only about 10% of non-credit ESL students make the transition to credit ESL and even fewer continue on to vocational or academic programs.

But to gauge the success of an ESL program by looking solely at college engagement would be a mistake, says Chris Vandall, dean of the School of Academic Advancement.

“You have to look at the goal of the student,” he says. It may not be to get into an occupational program or earn a degree. Even if it were, for many that’s impossible financially.

“We lose a lot of our students because they have to go and get a job just to pay the bills,” says Vandall.

But then there are more resource-rich students like Batista, who have a fighting chance of college success. Now that he is in ESL 5, Batista is eligible to take the COMPASS, the college entrance exam used by Madison College to test readiness.

Eventually, he’d like to take credit courses through Madison College, then transfer to a UW-Madison humanities program. He’s nothing if not motivated, taking summer courses, showing up before class for help and practicing conversation in the downtown campus’ Learning Center. Batista takes basic reading, writing and math classes here too, also offered tuition-free.

“You have to work hard,” he says, but if you do, “you get what you want to get.”

Or, as an adage often recited in language classes goes, “One language sets you in a corridor for life. Two languages open every door along the way.”

From “Shortage of qualified manufacturing, construction workers” – As the economy improves, many parts of Wisconsin are in need of qualified builders and skilled manufacturing employees.  Those companies often look to the state’s apprenticeship program to fill their needs — but the apprenticeship pool has gotten smaller.  State officials said there were almost 9,800 apprenticeships in the various building trades last year — down from almost 16,000 in 2001.

The Wisconsin State Journal said it has become more of a challenge to get young people to consider apprenticeships, despite the need for skilled workers.  Madison electrical contractor Mike Pohlman said his company does a lot of outreach to schools — and some schools don’t seem to want to direct students to the building trades.  Madison College apprenticeship manager Jim Cook the situation has improved in Dane County because of a recent construction boom.  He says the demand for apprentice services has not been this strong since World War Two.

From “As trades rebound, demand for apprentices grows” — By Dennis Punzel – If Donald Trump hosted “Apprentice Wisconsin,” he’d have to change his catchphrase from “You’re fired” to “You’re hired.”

As the economy slowly pulls out of its funk, the dormant construction industry is starting to experience a revival. And as construction cranes sprout up in the skyline, the demand for skilled workers across the spectrum of construction trades also is ascending.

“The problem the last several years has been a shortage of work for contractors in the construction industry,” said Wayne Belanger of the Associated Builders and Contractors of Wisconsin. “Now, it’s a shortage of workers. It’s critical.”

And when construction companies need skilled workers, they turn to the state’s venerable apprenticeship program to fill the void.

Wisconsin’s apprenticeship program, founded in 1911, was the first of its kind in the nation and led to the creation of the state’s technical school system.

“Wisconsin apprenticeship is still considered the leading model in the country,” said Jim Cook, apprenticeship manager at Madison Area Technical College. “In Wisconsin, everybody is at the table — employers, colleges, state government, labor organizations, employer associations.

“Apprenticeship here has survived all the economic and social upheavals of the last century. And because it’s done that, it’s going to survive for a long time.”

The most recent economic downturn, however, did take a toll on the system. As construction projects dried up, many firms had trouble finding jobs for their established journeyman workers and had no need to take on apprentices.

ABC’s apprentice numbers around the state plummeted from around 1,200 in 2006 to just a few hundred. The group sponsors apprenticeships in 12 trades, including electrical, carpentry, plumbing and HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning).

“I don’t want to even think about how low it was,” Belanger said. “We’re back to 850 now. We’re on the rebound. It seems like there’s a pent-up demand, and people are putting projects together again.

“The trouble is that a lot of people in the trades have either retired or gone on to something else, and they’re not coming back. That leaves a huge void pretty much at all levels because they haven’t hired new people in the last five years.”

Statewide, the number of apprentices in all trades has dropped from 15,767 in 2001 to 9,793 in 2013, according to the state Department of Workforce Development Bureau of Apprenticeship Standards (DWD-BAS). In the construction trades, the numbers have fallen from 8,890 in 2001 to 4,843 last year.

Belanger said the recovery has yet to hit many parts of the state, but that Madison is booming and the Fox Valley and Milwaukee are showing signs of life.

“In Dane County, there’s going to be a construction boom this year,” said Cook, noting that apprenticeships are up about 10 percent with 600 in the program at MATC. “The drive right now for economic development is fever pitch. The only other time we’ve seen this was around World War II, where you had this incredible need and a skilled worker shortage.”

One of the biggest challenges is convincing young people to look into apprenticeships after being pointed toward the four-year college route most of their lives.

“We do a lot of outreach to schools around the area and have more success at some than others,” said Mike Pohlman, president of Nickles Electric. “Some schools don’t seem to want to point kids to the trades.

“We certainly don’t dissuade kids from going to college. We always tell them the trades are another option after you graduate. We’re open to getting a kid into our program that has a four-year college degree.”

One who took that route is Pohlman’s son, Kaleb. After graduating from Marshall High School, he studied electrical engineering at UW-Milwaukee for two years before transferring to UW-Madison, where he earned a degree in civil engineering in 2009.

But with the job market dried up, he decided to follow in his father’s footsteps and pursue an electrical apprenticeship. He’s finishing up the fifth year of the program and just took the state exam with the hope of gaining journeyman status.

“They’re both gratifying,” Kaleb Pohlman, 28, said of his dual accomplishments. “When I got done with college I was like, ‘Wow, I did it.’ It was a long time and a lot of hard work and when I got done I felt great. Learning this and getting through this apprenticeship is just as much, if not more gratifying.

“I feel like I can do almost anything in the electrical trade. I can bend that conduit, I can run that wire, I can put that piece of switch gear up. You start feeling like you can do anything.”

Kaleb Pohlman’s goal is to use both parts of his education by working about five years in the field and then moving into project management.

“I went to school for a reason, and I did this for a reason,” he said. “I’ve put myself in a pretty unique situation that I think makes me a little more valuable.

“There’s a need for people who can do this stuff. In the next couple years as the baby boomers start retiring, the workforce is going to drop like crazy. There’s not as many people who do trades. That should bode well for people of my generation. If people want to do this, there should be a future in it.”

Apprenticeships, of course, are nothing new, as they date back to the middle ages. Ben Franklin was a printing apprentice; Henry Ford a machinist apprentice.

The state program offers apprenticeships in three broadly defined areas — construction trades, industrial/manufacturing trades and service trades.

Unlike their college-bound brethren, who frequently build up huge debts going to school, apprentices earn while they learn. Employer sponsors are required to pay their apprentices, starting at half the journeyman worker rate for that trade, with scheduled raises as they continue through the program.

Apprenticeships last three to five years with apprentices spending about 90 percent of the time on the job and 10 percent in the classroom. In addition to paying apprentices, many sponsors will also pick up all or part of the costs of tuition and books for the classroom part of the deal.

Upon completion of the apprenticeship and any licensing requirements, the apprentice receives a state certificate and a journeyman license and goes to work for the sponsoring firm. The construction trades tend to pay the highest, with the base pay for a construction worker at just under $33 per hour.

“It’s a great program,” said Greg Jones, CEO of Dave Jones Inc. “As a plumber, after a five-year program you can be making $70,000 a year with no student debt.”

Jones, 32, completed his apprenticeship in 2004. His father, Dave Jones, also went through the apprenticeship program and founded the company in 1977. The company now has 220 employees and 34 apprentices.

Phil Klahn, 23, got a head start on the five-year apprenticeship he is now finishing up when he started working at Dave Jones Plumbing part-time through a school-work program at Oregon High School.

“The trades were something I was always looking into,” Klahn said. “I wanted to work with my hands. I didn’t really think I could sit behind a desk my entire life.”

Klahn said that, like most high school graduates, he felt the pressure to go to college, but the work-study program opened his eyes to other options. And unlike many of his former classmates, he’s finishing his education with no student loans.

“I was lucky because I knew right away this was what I wanted to do,” said Klahn, who hopes to someday become a project manager or field superintendent. “Everybody thinks that plumbing is backed-up sewers and leaky faucets and leaky pipes. There is a service end to it, but right now I’m working on a 12-story apartment building in downtown Madison. There’s a lot more to it than people understand.”

Klahn’s advice to young people pondering their future?

“I just say keep your mind open to the apprenticeship program,” he said. “It might not be for everybody, but I tell people to at least look into it.”

Mike Pohlman of Nickles Electric thinks that message is spreading, and he emphasizes that the trades are actively recruiting a diverse workforce.

“This whole industry is changing,” said Pohlman, who began his apprenticeship in 1979 and rose through the ranks to become company president. “People are understanding that the trades are a pretty good option these days.

“Our city’s going to keep growing, and we’re going to need people to build it.”

From “Sen. Tammy Baldwin tours MATC-Fort, touts GREEN Act” – By Ryan Whisner – U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin visited Madison Area Technical College campuses in both Fort Atkinson and Madison Friday to discuss her new legislation aimed at job training and workforce readiness for high-skilled jobs in clean energy.

The Grants for Renewable Energy Education for the Nation (GREEN) Act allocates competitive grant funding for clean energy career- and technical-training programs so that students are better trained for post-secondary education and better equipped for the high-skilled “green collar” jobs of the future.

“I’m excited about it because we know this is an area where there is job growth that is outperforming job growth throughout the United States,” Baldwin said.

She said more than 3 million Americans are employed in the growing green collar workforce, including in clean energy and sustainability. That is more than the number of people working in the fossil fuel industry, and twice as many as those employed in the biotech industry.

Additionally, Baldwin noted that the jobs created in the clean energy economy pay better than the average American job, with compensation rates 13-percent higher than the national average.

“What the GREEN act focuses on is partnerships between secondary schools and post-secondary schools to actually plant the seed of the potential of these careers earlier,” the senator said.

Both through her campaign for U.S. Senate and as a senator, Baldwin said, she has traveled the state visiting manufacturing and other sites where inspiring things are happening.

Specifically, she recalled visiting manufacturers of solar panels, wind turbines and other green energy sources.

“I talk at these sites about the employment future,” Baldwin said. “One of the things I hear frequently are that the local high school students are looking elsewhere and are not necessarily planning to have careers in the industries that have supported their communities for generations.”

The senator noted that a lot of people are saying that the conversation has to start earlier, even in middle school.

“We’re seeing some really promising outcomes when the conversation does start earlier,” she said, citing examples of schools that have added curriculum through which students can earn technical college or university credit and others that have started energy efficiency and renewable energy class work.

“Part of the bill I’ve introduced focuses on that type of continuing curriculum,” Baldwin said. “It would begin earlier and provide opportunities to expose people at a younger age to the advanced industry around them and the green energy job possibilities and really to establish partnerships between the high schools and technical colleges of our state.”

The bill also provides opportunities for technical schools or high schools to upgrade their own energy systems to serve as model training facilities.

Baldwin said the intention is for students to be able to be actively involved in the installation and maintenance and analysis of how effective the systems are as part of their green collar career tracks.

“It becomes a teaching and learning opportunity,” she said, noting that in some cases, the students write the grants. “We think it is an exciting way to get young people interested at an earlier age.”

Baldwin said her purpose in introducing the bill was to help address the ongoing economic issues.

“There is no greater challenge for our nation or for our state than to get our economy back to full strength,” the senator said. “We know the hits we’ve taken in recent years, whether it’s recession-based or because of other policies.”

She noted that manufacturing, in particular, has taken a huge hit.

“We’ve always made things in Wisconsin and we want to see a clear path back to the forefront, with an emphasis on clean, renewable energy,” Baldwin said. “You are in the front line and I’m really excited to hear more about what you are doing here.”

She noted that it was great to be at the Fort Atkinson campus of Madison College, where so much is happening in terms of preparing students for these types of such green-collar jobs.

“Sometimes I think we talk about this too narrowly,” she said.

During her visit at the Fort Atkinson campus, she spoke with instructors and students involved in renewable energy, transportation and manufacturing. Specific areas highlighted included hybrid vehicle automotive technical training, compressed natural gas technology and renewable energy (wind and solar energy).

Also, Jefferson City Administrator Tim Freitag and Mayor Dale Oppermann were on hand to discuss the recent installation of a solar farm by Half Moon Ventures of Chicago in the city’s North Business Park.

The senator also visited the campus’ state-of-the-art welding labs, where students are involved in learning greener manufacturing processes into the future.

“It is very exciting speaking to both the instructors and the students who are very optimistic about this future of this sector of economy,” Baldwin said after the campus tour.

The senator said she is proud of Wisconsin’s technical colleges for being the “unsung heroes” across the state.

“Madison College is no exception to that rule; in fact, it is a leader among them,” Baldwin said. “In our changing economy and as we have been struggling to recover from a deep recession, they have played such a critical role in helping returning students retool their skills for advanced manufacturing jobs in the future, but they also really are being focused on having the students career-ready on the day they graduate.”

She said it is filling an important need.

“There also are tremendous partnerships with the private sector making sure they are relevant to the needs of employers all around,” Baldwin said.

Following her stop in Fort Atkinson, the senator also visited the Commercial Avenue campus in Madison to tour the solar instructional labs and learn about the net-zero energy home project that the college and the City of Madison Community Development Authority have teamed up with to support the development of net-zero energy performing homes in the Allied Drive neighborhood of Madison.

Baldwin also has visited Milwaukee Area Technical College, Lakeshore Technical College in Cleveland, Northeast Wisconsin Technical College in Green Bay and Mid-State Technical College in Wisconsin Rapids to discuss the GREEN Act.

From “Capitol ceremony honors MLK” – Wisconsin’s official Martin Luther King Day celebration took place in the Capitol rotunda Monday, and there was a call to action from the event’s keynote speaker, Madison College President Jack E. Daniels. “The achievement gap within our Madison schools in unacceptable,” Daniels said, noting that fifty percent of black students in Madison do not graduate high school on time, and that many African-American adults fail to achieve degrees and marketable skills.

“Dr. King had organized the Poor Peoples Campaign in 1968, in an effort to gain economic justice for poor people in the United States,” Daniels said. “Forty-six years ago, that was the vision. Economic justice must become the reality today.”

This was the 34th annual official state tribute and economy honoring the slain civil rights leader, on the 85th anniversary of King’s birth. The event included recipients of the state’s annual MLK Heritage Awards, Anita Herrera, Ronald C. Dunlap, Dr. Luiz “Tony” Baez and, posthumously, Dr. Eugene Farley.

From “Madison College works to close job training gap” — A survey of 341 Wisconsin CEOs reveals a growing concern about finding enough skilled employees to fill job vacancies and facilitate growth.

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From “First tiny home to be occupied thanks to a village effort” – Last spring, Betty Ybarra occupied a tent in a county park and with her tentmates dug moats to discourage oncoming floodwaters.

Starting Christmas Eve, she and a tentmate will upgrade to a brand new “tiny home” they helped build with aid from a variety of helpers including local colleges. It has a roof, insulated walls, a toilet and a sink. Christmas lights hang outside it.

It’s a twist of fate more fortunate than they could imagine possible.

“I was like, ‘Yeah, right,’ ” Ybarra, who’s been homeless since April, said of her reaction when originally presented the idea. “I’m too skeptical.”

Their house is the first of what organizers hope will be a village of similar houses that provide basic shelter against the elements and a home to be proud of for the homeless, who earn the residences through sweat equity at an East Side workshop set up to build and decorate the units.

Its construction came about thanks to a massive volunteer effort that included more than 50 people and started early in the summer with fundraising and technical support from Occupy Madison Inc., a nonprofit.

Steve Burns, an MATC math instructor, trained volunteers and oversaw much of the construction and design of the first two houses, which follow a basic blueprint but can include whatever touches and innovations their creators want.

One of those innovations — a pole-mounted solar panel — comes with heavy fingerprints from MATC and UW-Madison and origins in rural Costa Rica, where villagers use the solar-powered lights to guard against snake bites while heading to outdoor latrines. It can charge the battery that provides light to the house.

UW-Madison donated the panel for this house. The idea came from Ken Walz, an instructor of chemistry, engineering and renewable energy at MATC and an adjunct professor at UW-Madison. For seven years, Walz has led students on study abroad trips to a national park in Mastatal, Costa Rica.

The village, rebuilding its economy after its cocoa industry cratered, had unmet energy needs because of its rural location. Walz had won a federal Department of Education grant to lead study abroad trips framed around renewable energy for international development.

Walz and his students helped with the village’s most pressing problem — a lack of reliable light — with solar panels of 40 to 60 watts. They’re designed for simplicity and ease of use. They matter especially because villagers have outdoor toilets and used to fall prey to vipers, nocturnal snakes that used darkness to their advantage. The nearest hospital is 30 miles away.

Calvin Cherry, a UW-Madison graduate student who’s been on Walz’s trip to Mastatal, saw an opportunity for the solar panels on Madison’s new tiny homes, which are based on models in Portland, Ore., and Olympia, Wash.

The 80-watt solar panel he developed will charge a sealed lead acid battery. It can power the 98-square-foot home’s four LED lights and cellphone charger base. Burns, the MATC math instructor, engineered a metal pole to mount the panels outside the house.

The first homes are heated with a vented propane heater mounted on the wall. They also can use a space heater if parked near a plug-in electricity source.

However, the plan needs a bit more refining. A recent attempt to mount the metal pole exposed a problem: it’s too tall to fit under bridges, said Bruce Wallbaum, project organizer for Occupy Madison.

The houses currently must be trailered around the neighborhood a couple of times a week. City ordinance allows them to be parked on the street as long as they’re moved every 48 hours.

The transient life will eventually end for the houses as it does for their occupants, Wallbaum said. He and other organizers of Occupy Madison are working with area churches to allow the houses to park up to three in each lot. Eventually the organization hopes to buy land and create a village of up to 30 of the houses.



From “Experts offer advice following massive Target security breach” – As many as 40 million people who shopped at Target in the three weeks after Thanksgiving may have had their credit or debit card data hacked. Experts are calling it a massive security breach and are reminding people to take some precautions so they don’t become victims of fraud.

Some Target shoppers in Madison Thursday were shocked to hear the news. “That’s horrible. I feel a little bit betrayed that they would let that sort of information get out, actually,” Corey Stoelb tells 27 News.

The hackers reportedly stole data from magnetic strips on the back of debit and credit cards.That includes your name, credit card number, security code and expiration date. Target says anyone who shopped at the store between November 27 and December 15 could have compromised data.

“They have a small window between when they get this going and when it gets found out, that’s why they target mass sales times of the year, because they can fit it in that window,” Madison College Information Security Instructor Mike Masino says about the hackers. Masino says users can take some steps to prevent money from being stolen like monitoring activity on a credit card or debit card daily or weekly online. “Just makes it a lot easier to get out in front of it if someone’s breaking into the accounts,” he says. “Another good thing to do is to use credit cards when you’re doing this kind of stuff and not use the bank cards that are directly connected to those accounts.”

The Better Business Bureau says debit cards also give you less time to dispute a fraudulent charge so if you see one, call the credit card company or bank immediately. Target is also advising customers to change pin numbers. The BBB also warns this situation may cause more scams, from people posing to be your bank or the store, and looking for personal information.

Thursday, Target says it has identified and resolved the security issue. The secret service is investigating the crime.

From “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.”


From “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.

From “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.”


From “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.

From “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.”

Moving forward

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.”

From “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.”



From “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.


From “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.”


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