From “Vruwink: Here’s how we’re improving city gov’t” – By Zach Vruwink, mayor of Wisconsin Rapids – Shortly into my first term as mayor of Wisconsin Rapids, I pledged to pursue streamlining operations and making government more efficient, effective and customer-friendly. With support of that vision from the City Council and a partnership with Mid-State Technical College, our employees began Lean Six Sigma training to equip us with the tools to identify improvement projects, approach problem solving differently and form cross-functional teams across departments to develop new solutions to the way we approach new and everyday tasks.

We live in a world where the expectation to do things “better” is commonplace. An investment in professional development, specifically in process improvement, exposes employees to additional ways to identify and solve problems, resulting in improved service and increased customer satisfaction — in our case, our “customers” are our employees and our residents.

Now, just a year after our formal launch of the initiative, I am happy to report that over 25 percent of our employees have been trained in the fundamentals of process improvement. Even more have been involved with identifying processes for improvement and as “subject matter experts” in their specific areas of process improvement.

On June 25, all city employees were invited to a report-out event to recognize the progress of the initiative and provide an overview of the projects they are working on. The event was a reminder of how far we’ve come, and it was a chance to see what improvements are being made across the organization and encourage interdepartmental collaboration among all employees.

Just as significant, the “Rapid Improvement” process has given us the opportunity for self-reflection from those of us in the organization; that’s something that can often be the difference from an organization being “good enough” and being “great.”

The result, I’m excited to announce, is seven projects near completion. For example, we are examining the city’s special assessments process; its business inspection process; and even the library’s book check-in and shelving process.

Take the business inspection process: City departments such as police, fire and code enforcement have heard from businesses that our compliance inspection process should be improved. Previously, departments conducted individual visits, disrupting businesses as frequently as six times per year. After the project team applied the Lean Six Sigma methodology, business inspections (or disruptions) have been reduced to one or two annually. Businesses now are informed proactively of common violations and also have a voice in further improving the process. This allows departments time to perform other functions and disrupts businesses less, all the while preserving the integrity of inspections.

Since the essence of the Rapid Improvement initiative is “continuous improvement,” projects will continue to be started and completed with varying degrees of impact. An internal steering team has scored and will continue to score employee-submitted projects to be worked on in the future. Residents, too, are invited to submit improvement projects for improvement.

If you have an improvement idea, please communicate to me, another city staff member or submit your idea online by visiting

Each day we show up for work with the opportunity to not only do our jobs, but also to make a significant impact on how we improve processes within our organization and within our city. I’m proud of the progress our city employees have made so far in the initiative and I look forward to continuing our journey of process improvement, identifying project opportunities, measuring our efficiency and ultimately improving the delivery of city services.

From “MSTC Foundation awards full-tuition Bethke Transportation Scholarship” — In honor of the generosity of the late Leonard and Lillian Bethke, the Mid-State Technical College (MSTC) Foundation offers a full-tuition scholarship each year to graduating high school seniors planning to pursue a technical diploma in the Automotive Technician program or Diesel and Heavy Equipment Technician program. Medford High School senior Samuel Buehler was selected to receive the 2014 award. He is pursuing a technical diploma in MSTC’s Diesel & Heavy Equipment Technician program.

Buehler, Medford, is the son of Larry and Rosemary Buehler. During high school, he was involved in football, FFA fundraisers, High Mileage Vehicle (HMV) competitions, Pep Band, and Science Olympiad. He also enjoys hunting, fishing, and ATV and motorcycle riding.

Buehler has work experience in retail grocery customer service, Schierl Tire Service, and farm work.  He is motivated by major modifications and new ideas to improve gas mileage in the automotive industry and high technology diesel engines.

The Leonard & Lillian Bethke Transportation Scholarship has a value of up to $10,000, which covers tuition and fees. Buehler was selected by the MSTC Scholarship Selection Committee. Students’ academic achievements, pre-entrance test results, financial need, extracurricular activities and responses to essay questions were reviewed and assessed by the committee. To remain eligible for the continuation of scholarship funds, recipients must maintain required academic standings.

From “Mid-State enrollment projected to increase for first time in 3 years” — GRAND RAPIDS — After three years of steadily declining enrollment, Mid-State Technical College’s student body is slowly ticking upward.

This upcoming academic year will be the first time the college has projected an increase in student body population since the 2010-11 year. The school expects enrollment will rise 3.5 percent to 2,144 full-time equivalent students in 2014-15 from 2,070 in 2013-14.

Vice President of Student Affairs Mandy Lang attributed this year’s increase in students to the opening of the new Stevens Point campus and its new and expanded course offerings. She said the three-year enrollment decline was due to the economy.

“When the economy gets better, there can be a drop in enrollment for colleges,” Lang said.

After the recession hit in 2008 and layoffs became more common in central Wisconsin, MSTC saw enrollment increase as dislocated workers decided to return to school and acquire new skills. Government funding for dislocated worker training also increased during this time, Lang said. However, as the effects of the recession mitigated, the school’s numbers steadily declined from 2011 to 2014.

Still, these trends in enrollment are not unique to MSTC. According to the Wisconsin Technical College System’s 2011-13 Biennial Report, all Wisconsin technical colleges saw a decrease in full-time equivalent students from the 2009-10 academic school year to the 2011-12 year. Across the technical college system, there was a 3.9 percent drop in enrollment from 2009-10 to 2011-12, totaling a decrease of 3,175 students.

Conor Smyth, director of strategic partnerships and external relations at WTCS, said enrollment rates in the state’s technical colleges were the highest in the system’s history during the recession. The tendency for people to return to college during times of economic hardship is a historic trend, he said. Likewise, when the economy gets better, people tend to go back to work. This phenomena, he said, explains the subsequent decline in enrollment.

“There’s a preference for work and earning money,” Smyth said.

Katie Felch, director of public relations and marketing at Northcentral Technical College in Wausau, also noted the economy’s role in determining enrollment at NTC. Since 2006-07, Felch said NTC’s enrollment increased by 50 percent and in 2012, it was recognized as the 21st fastest-growing community college in the nation by Community College Week. This past May, NTC graduated its largest class ever.

This year, NTC’s enrollment is down 8 percent, but Felch expects it to rebound.

“We saw a big bubble due to dislocated workers,” Felch said.

However, the recession isn’t the only factor influencing enrollment. MSTC’s pool of potential students is much smaller because of its district’s demographics.

According to MSTC’s calculations in its 2014-15 budget, residents in the school’s district are significantly older than the national average. Compared to the national average, there are 16 percent more people per capita who are older than 50. Combine this with the fact that MSTC’s district has only grown 1 percent in population since 2001 and it puts MSTC at a notable disadvantage in enrolling students. For context, Wisconsin’s population has grown 7 percent and the U.S.’s has grown 11 percent since 2001.

Another cause for concern in technical college enrollment is the diminishing number of students in high school. Smyth said the total number of high school graduates is expected to decrease in the next decade and with fewer students enrolled in high school, it is likely to impact enrollment at all colleges.

However, the technical colleges are especially starting to notice.

“There are just fewer students in the pipeline,” Felch said. “So we’re working to attract those students.”

But, as Smyth said, recruitment for students is especially hard for technical colleges because of their constant battle with a “four-year bias.” High school students, in particular, might feel more pressured by their peers, parents and school counselors to enroll in a four-year university even though their academic interest might be better aligned with a technical college.

Still, Smyth admits that breaking this bias is especially hard.

“We’re trying to get people to think along the lines of, ‘What do you want to do?’ rather than, ‘Where do you want to go?’” Smyth said.

In addition, student financial aid is growing harder to attain because of government regulations, further hindering student enrollment. Although technical colleges might be more affordable than a four-year university, Smyth said the number of students eligible for state-funded, need-based financial aid far outpaces the sufficient funds available to them.

At MSTC, Lang said the declining accessibility of financial aid is impacting the number of students it enrolls.

“It has been a factor (in enrollment) over the past few years,” Lang said about financial aid. “Those regulations do continue to tighten.”

Lang said MSTC anticipates a “moderate growth” in student body population during the next few years but would not speak to whether maintaining a steadily increasing enrollment was a high priority for MSTC. Instead, she emphasized student success as one of MSTC’s largest priorities.

From “MSTC Vex Robotics Camp exposes students to mechanical skills” — About 25 middle schoolers and their parents descended on Mid-State Technical College to watch robots compete against each other Thursday.

And the neat part? The children built the robots themselves.

Over the past four days, coaches at MSTC’s Vex Robotics Camp taught students the basic process of building and developing their own robots. Thursday’s competition was a culmination of the students’ week-long effort and gave the youths an opportunity to showcase what they learned.

Richard Breen, an adjunct professor at MSTC, is one of the camp’s coordinators and coaches. He said he hopes the children take what they learned and apply it to life outside the camp.

“We hope that we inspire them to go on and do more — and a little bit with programming,” Breen said.

However, Breen noted that programing and mechanical techniques are not the only lessons they learn. The students also practice soft skills such as teamwork, problem solving and time management in their race to build the ultimate robot.

“It’s got all those great elements that culminate in the competition to see who designed the best unit that can perform the task to the best ability,” said Gary Kilgas, associate dean of MSTC’s technical industrial division.

The robotics camp introduces students to different facets of math and science they might not encounter in the classroom.

“What I see is that they’re able to use cellphones and computer systems very well, but their mechanical skills are not necessarily there,” Breen said.

Exposing today’s youths to these mechanical and engineering skills is especially important, said Kilgas, because many employers looking for workers are unable to find qualified people because of the skills gap.

“We need those types of talents here. We have got businesses looking for CNC (computer numerical control) operators or people who understand automation,” Kilgas said. “And those are all the types of things you’re learning here (at camp).”

This is this summer’s second week of the Vex Robotics Camp. And according to Kilgas, it’s been a success so far.

“It’s not only the right thing to do with these young people — keeping them interested in technology, engineering and math — but it’s a wonderful way for them to learn new skills and work as team,” Kilgas said.

From “Workshop makes a compressed earth brick press from scratch in one day” — WISCONSIN RAPIDS — Extreme manufacturing techniques were on display June 17 to 19 at Mid-State Technical College’s Wisconsin Rapids Campus.

A three-day workshop led by Marcin Jakubowski, founder of Open Source Ecology, or OSE, showcased how extreme manufacturing techniques are used to build a complete, automated compressed earth brick, or CEB, press in one day.

The machine was completely built from scratch, with parts cut via computer numerical control. These pieces then were welded, and then assembled together with the automated controller and hydraulic system.

“It was exciting to get hands-on training in the process of building this sophisticated machine out of nothing more than basic resources,” said MSTC Sustainable Heating & Cooling Technician Instructor Ben Nusz.

A CEB press compresses clay earth into bricks that can be used for building. These bricks are cheaper because they can be made with dirt on site and are consequently more environmentally friendly. They are also highly energy efficient, insulating well against both heat and sound.

The workshop was designed for people interested in hands-on training, especially those individuals who want to use a CEB press in future endeavors. Participants were immersed in concept and production, including crash courses on key elements of design, fabrication, computer-aided design, microcontrollers, hydraulics, open documentation and open enterprise models. A total of 30 people attended the workshop.

Event planners partnered with MSTC and the Midwest Renewable Energy Association in co-organizing this event.

Nusz emphasized that this workshop is just the tip of the iceberg for people interested in careers related to renewable energy and conservation.

“This workshop is just one of many great opportunities in sustainable energy technology available here at MSTC,” said Nusz. “MSTC is home to numerous career programs and certificates in the field of renewable energy, many that are available nowhere else in the Wisconsin Technical College System.”

MSTC currently offers career programs in Process & Biorefinery Technology, Renewable Energy Specialist, Solar Electric Technician, and Sustainable Heating and Cooling Technician. Individuals who are interested in learning more about these and the more than 100 total programs and certificates available at MSTC are encouraged to visit or call 888-575-MSTC.

From “UWSP, MSTC officials hope transfer agreement increases enrollment” – Officials from the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point and Mid-State Technical College say they hope a recent statewide transfer agreement will mean an increase in enrollment as students see more opportunity to move from one campus to another.

Signed by University of Wisconsin System President Ray Cross and Wisconsin Technical College System President Morna Foy earlier this month, the Universal Transfer Agreement identifies 48 core general-education courses for which students can transfer credits within the two systems. The agreement goes into effect July 1 for the 2014-15 academic year, can be renewed annually and is open to private and tribal institutions that choose to participate.

“Building on the hundreds of existing articulation agreements between the UW System and the WCTS, along with the innovative Transfer Information System, this agreement is another step in our joint efforts to make post-secondary education accessible for more students, facilitating their progress to becoming successful contributors to the Wisconsin economy,” Cross said in a statement.

Gov. Scott Walker, who proposed the agreement as part of the state’s biennial budget adopted last summer, said in a statement that he believes the agreement will allow students more flexibility and speed up the process for those looking to finish their degree.

Greg Summers, vice chancellor for Academic Affairs at UWSP, said the agreement will provide an even playing field for students looking to attend a university after completing their studies at a technical college.

“Before, you would have some credits that would be accepted at Stevens Point that might not be accepted at UW-Eau Claire or UW-Superior,” Summers said. “This agreement broadens the access students will have if they decide to pursue their degree.”

Mandy Lang, vice president of student affairs for MSTC, said students most often transfer to a university to pursue degrees in areas such as nursing and business. Lang said it’s too early to tell whether the agreement will increase enrollment, but making it easier to transfer general education credits is good step for students wherever they choose to attend school.

Nearly 90 students from MSTC and Northcentral Technical College in Wausau transferred into UWSP in the 2012-13 school year, and Summers said he expects that number to increase because of the agreement.

“That would be the goal. I think as students see there is a predictable pathway to get their degree, there will be more interest,” Summers said.

From “College graduation week features NTC, UWSP Saturday” – Several colleges are having their graduation ceremonies Saturday.

One of them is Northcentral Technical College in Wausau, where Sean Sullivan says the students have been doing more than classroom work to get ready for the job market.  “A lot of our graduates have really been active in taking advantage of the services that we offer to prepare to go out into the workforce, so it’s not only about the classes, but it’s about the extra things that we can offer them like leadership development, job skills training, those soft skills that employers are looking for.”

The NTC graduation is held at Wausau West High School starting at 10:00 a.m. Sullivan says just over half of the graduates will take part in the ceremony.  “NTC is going to be graduating almost 800 students this semester, and of those, I’d say about 475 will be at the graduation ceremony.”

Some of the NTC grads are the first virtual college Associate Degree graduates for the school, having taken most of their classes online.

The University of Wisconsin Stevens Point also has commencement Saturday, with both a morning session and an afternoon session to send 1,427 graduates on to their next step.

Mid-State Technical College had their graduation Thursday evening, but they have something else to celebrate. Their new Stevens Point facility is ready, and they’ve begun moving in. The college acquired the former Penney’s wing of the Centerpoint Marketplace mall, and they expect to be done moving in early next week.

UW Marathon County had their graduation Wednesday.


From “Mid-State Technical College Stevens Point Relocation” — Mid-State Technical College. Stevens Point campus, has relocated to developing downtown area. The school took over what once used to be the JCPenney wing of the mall that no longer exists.

In the past few years the downtown area of Stevens Point has struggled to renovate, but the relocation of Mid-State Tech brand new facility, it is already adding a draw to the area.

Dean Steve Smith told us all about the relocation and how the new site for Mid State Technical College caters to students and the community. With the new building comes a common area for students to hang out and study, a room that will be filled with computers for students to access and a community engagement room that can be utilized by not only students, but local organizations.

We received a tour of the campus that is set to open on Monday, May 19th.

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From “Three MSTC students place in statewide skills contest” — Three Mid-State Technical College, or MSTC, students placed in the top three in the respective events at the 41st annual State SkillsUSA Secondary Leadership & Skills Conference, a showcase of career and technical education students. Competitions were held April 29 and 30 at the Alliant Energy Center in Madison.

SkillsUSA, a national nonprofit organization, describes itself as “a partnership of students, teachers and industry working together to ensure America has a skilled workforce.” A total of eight students from MSTC’s SkillsUSA chapter participated in four events: Hunter Johnson and Aaron Kaczmarek competed in Automotive Service; Mark Cannon, Colin Reffner, and Troy Sobish participated in Precision Machining; Michael Demski and Quinton Kluck competed in CNC Milling; and Tyler Weinfurter participated in Welding.

Kaczmarek finished in first place in Automotive Service, and has qualified to travel to Kansas City, Missouri, to compete in the National Leadership & Skills Conference in June. Reffner and Kluck each placed third in the respective competitions.

MSTC, one of 16 colleges in the Wisconsin Technical College System, offers more than 100 associate degrees, technical diplomas, and certificates. Student-focused and community-based, MSTC serves a resident population of approximately 165,000 in central Wisconsin with campuses in Marshfield, Stevens Point and Wisconsin Rapids, and a learning center in Adams.

From “As temperatures drop, solar energy heats up” – GRAND RAPIDS — Reports of recent propane shortages have made front page headlines across North America, especially in the Midwest, central Canada and California.

For much of January and early February, propane suppliers had difficulty finding the product, and residential customers were paying significantly higher prices. Propane rates are beginning to fall in some places, but this winter’s shortage has been an eye opener for many who depend on propane.

Propane, a byproduct of natural gas processing and petroleum refining, is commonly used for residential heating. Pipeline outages, depleted inventories and a winter with below-average temperatures have increased demand for the fossil fuel. This three-legged onslaught on the supply of propane became a recipe for skyrocketing energy bills; prices doubled or even tripled in many areas.

This sharp increase in utility bills has forced some to pursue other energy options. Mid-State Technical College instructor Ben Nusz points to renewable energy options as a reasonable solution.

“Solar heating is one effective alternative to propane and natural gas,” Nusz said. “A one-time investment in solar brings a lifetime of free energy.”

Nusz teaches for the Renewable Thermal Energy Technician program at MSTC, where he has had the opportunity to use cutting edge energy technology and teach its features and benefits to his students. Equipment in the industry is becoming smaller, more efficient, and, best of all, increasingly affordable by small businesses and homeowners.

Students in these MSTC career programs acquire the knowledge and skills they need to be successful in a burgeoning industry from faculty who have real-world experience. Through this hands-on education, students often have opportunities to leave campus to work with local companies and organizations on real, renewable energy projects. In fact, MSTC even has offered some of its own facilities as hands-on laboratories. Nusz says that arrangement has been a win for all involved.

“MSTC renewable energy program students are receiving a comprehensive education without having to travel far from the classroom,” Nusz said.

Nusz spoke of several student projects that are already up and running. For example, a solar water heating system was installed by students in the Center for Sustainable Energy Technology, a state-of-the-art facility where many MSTC renewable energy classes and labs are held.

Students also have installed a solar air heating system in the Automotive Technician program lab to counteract the high costs of heating a space with numerous doors and bays. This spring students will install a solar heating system that will help heat the greenhouse used in the Urban Forestry Technician program, and plans already are in place for a solar water heating system to heat the cosmetology program’s salon and to provide space heating on the newly remodeled Stevens Point Campus.

“Each of these projects is the result of what the students learned in the classroom and labs,” Nusz said. “Future students will benefit from the effort these students are putting in today.”

While students do not currently log data for the new systems, it is safe to say that these student projects are also saving the college money.

“The icing on the cake is that MSTC facilities are receiving important long-term money-saving and eco-friendly upgrades at a fraction of the normal installation cost,” Nusz said.

Nusz also has good news for people looking to get into an exciting, up-and-coming field. A trend toward increased adoption of renewable energy technology raises the need for skilled people to install and service that equipment.

“There are not enough skilled workers in renewable energy to handle the anticipated growth of the field in coming years,” Nusz said.

MSTC offers four career programs in the field of renewable energy, none of which are available anywhere else in the 16-college Wisconsin Technical College System: Process & Biorefinery Technology, Renewable Energy Specialist, Renewable Electricity Technician, and Renewable Thermal Energy Technician. The latter two programs are undergoing some changes to accommodate local workforce needs and will have new names later this year. All four programs are available at MSTC’s Wisconsin Rapids Campus in Grand Rapids.

From “Column: Local employer feedback is essential to providing relevant MSTC programming” – Collaboration with local employers and community partners is critical to achieving the Mid-State Technical College mission.

MSTC works closely with these stakeholders through membership on program advisory committees and participation in focus groups. This collaboration enables our college to understand the current and emerging skills needed by the workforce and provide the training employers need and seek.

We rely heavily on this information in order to keep our offerings up-to-date. This critical information is used to plan and develop curriculum, determine the length of training and establish certificate or degree requirements. It is also a resource to learn which technical skills are necessary in various sectors of the local workforce, which seem to change every year. In fact, many of these skills were unheard of just a generation ago.

At times, this valuable input might point to workforce needs for a new program offering.

A recent example of employer collaboration is the development of a new Stainless Steel Welding certificate. MSTC was fortunate to receive a federal grant through the Department of Labor that permitted us to remodel and retool the Marshfield Campus welding shop. This process was aided by a meeting of stainless steel fabrication employers last year that verified the skills entry-level stainless steel welders needed for local employment.

Employers also provided input into welding lab equipment selections, course content and the structure of training. The outcome, the new Stainless Steel Welding certificate, runs year round. New students can start any month and can work at their own pace and ability.

Beginning in August, MSTC will offer a new Health and Wellness Promotion associate degree. Health care providers and educators, along with several community agencies, came together to advise MSTC on this emerging field. This associate degree will prepare students with knowledge of health and wellness concepts, as well as program development and promotion skills. We plan to deliver this coursework in a flexible format, mostly online.

Local, regional and national trend data from the Department of Workforce Development, or DWD, help us determine emerging and growing workforce training needs, yet local employer feedback is essential when investigating a new offering. By staying in contact with employers and employees in the industry, the DWD, and many other sources, MSTC is able to offer relevant, in-demand, and up-to-date education and training.

For more information about these or any of the exciting educational opportunities available at MSTC, go to or visit your local technical college campus.

From “Central Wisconsin prepares for baby boomer retirements” – As the first baby boomers begin to retire, central Wisconsin health care providers, employers and educators are bracing for what some have termed the “silver tsunami.”

Wisconsin is expected to face worker shortages during the next 20 years as birth rates drop and older adults retire, according to a news release issued Thursday by the Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance.

Statewide, 14.4 percent of the population is older than 65, compared to 13.7 percent of the national population, according to U.S. Census Bureau data from 2012. By 2030, 24 percent of the state’s population will be older than 65, said Tom Walsh, state Department of Workforce Development labor market economist for north central Wisconsin.

Currently in Wood, Portage and Marathon counties, 52 percent of the population is working age, defined as 25 to 54 years old by WISTAX, but that number will drop to 44.4 percent by 2030, Walsh said. He said central Wisconsin has a slightly older population than the rest of the state, but he expected local workforce trends to closely follow state trends.

“One of the big sectors that will be impacted is health care,” Walsh said. Not only will many health care workers be retiring, but retirees also will require more health care services as they continue to age, he said.

“Certainly, throughout our service area, we have fewer workers for every person moving into Medicare,” said Dr. Brian Ewert, Marshfield Clinic president.

“It’s a very transformative time in medicine compared to the 1950s, where … more people (were) getting insured under their employers, and there were more workers and a very small group of retirees,” he said.

Ewert said retirees will consume more health care resources in the coming years, while at the same time, providers are being charged with reducing health care costs.

One model that health care providers have found that benefits patients and saves resources is the patient-centered medical home, in which patients are assigned a primary care team consisting of a physician, nurse practitioner, registered nurse and medical assistant.

The patient-centered medical home, along with other nurse-coordinated services like nurse lines, reduce hospital admissions and re-admissions and allow physicians to spend more time on tasks that require a higher level of licensure, Ewert said.

The model of care allows hospitals to do more with fewer resources, a trend Walsh said he has seen in many other industries.

To address possible physician shortages, Marshfield Clinic has partnered with the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine to offer the Wisconsin Academy for Rural Medicine program, or WARM, which allows third- and fourth-year medical students to complete their clinical training at Marshfield Clinic sites with the goal of encouraging students to practice medicine in rural areas of the state.

The WARM program last year included six medical students, two of whom chose to complete their medical training at Marshfield Clinic residency programs. This year, 10 students are participating in the WARM program, Ewert said.

Connie Willfahrt, vice president of academic affairs at Mid-State Technical College in Wisconsin Rapids, said employers in the manufacturing, transportation and information technology industries have expressed a need for more skilled workers and fear of worker shortages in the future, due in part to the number of expected retirements.

Willfahrt said representatives from the college share information about employer needs at community job fairs, but students are encouraged to develop skills and knowledge in their areas of interest that will allow them to be competitive in the workforce.

Still, MSTC has added sections and expanded its automotive technician, diesel mechanic and welding programs due to employer demand.

“Our mission is to work closely with the employers we serve … to really understand what current and future training looks like to them and how we can align our programs and coursework to prepare graduates to be ready for those occupations,” she said.

“We can’t afford to let high school graduates languish without workforce training or higher education,” WISTAX president Todd Berry said in Thursday’s news release.

Besides training workers to fill open positions, MSTC trains individuals already in the workforce so they’re prepared for promotions or new responsibilities in their existing roles.

“We’re really looking to plant the seed of lifelong learning,” Willfahrt said. “You’re probably not going to have the same position for the rest of your life, and if you are, it’s going to be using different tools and different technology.”

From “Mid-State Technical College honors students in centennial celebration” — Two farmers from Mid-State Technical College’s agriculture programs were recently selected to receive Centennial Merit Awards.

Kevin Spindler of Farm Business and Production Management and Trevor Peterson of the Farm Operation program earned the recognition last month.

“In honor of 100 years of technical education in central Wisconsin, the MSTC community wanted to provide special recognition to students within each of its 50-plus program who have demonstrated commitment to their education,” said MSTC Foundation and Alumni Director Chris Maguire.

The funds were provided by the MSTC Foundation Board of Directors.

Students were selected based on academics, attendance and leadership within the program, college and community.

Seeing the benefits

Spindler, who farms near Stratford, admits he wasn’t thrilled four years ago when he found out he’d be required to go back to school as a condition of a Farm Service Agency loan.

“I was forced to do it and didn’t know if I was going to get much out of the schooling or not,” Spindler said.

His father, Russ, who had studied production agriculture when he started farming in the 1970s, gave him a bit of advice.

“He said you’re going to get out of school what you put into it,” Spindler recalled. “So I went into it with an open mind.”

Now in his fourth year of the Farm Business and Production Management program, Spindler said he’s been pleasantly surprised.

The program, which spans six years, is designed for those already operating a farm and focuses on ways to maximize profits.

“Basically one year is for the beginning farmers, to get them up to speed in all agricultural areas,” instructor Mike Sabel said. “The succeeding five years each cover a specific topic, and those are soils, crops, nutrition, livestock management and finance.”

Students meet at remote locations throughout the technical college area for about three hours on one evening every other week.

“We have 10 classes a year over a period of 20 to 22 weeks in October through March,” he said.

Sabel stays connected with students through the summer with individual on-farm visits.

Spindler said the network he’s grown through class has been one of its biggest benefits.

“We glean a lot of ideas off each other,” he said. “Class is always an interesting experience, and everybody in class seems to have a real genuine open-door policy.”

Spindler milks 75 cows and raises 170 acres of crops on his Marathon County farm, which has been in his family for more than a century.

“Four years ago I started buying the cows and personal property from my parents,” Spindler said. “Last April I purchased the real estate.”

Spindler said he hopes to eventually retrofit a parlor in his tie-stall barn and build a free-stall to grow the herd to 150 or 200 head.

His brother, Ryan, is also active on the farm.

Spindler said his Mid-State classes have shown him the many options he has as he looks to the future.

“It’s been a great way to learn about different setups and what I can do differently,” he said.

Spindler and his fiancée, Beth Kolbeck, have two children, a 5-year-old and an 8-year-old, and are expecting a third addition in mid-February.

“Our hope is the kids may want to be a part of this someday,” he said. “If they do, we’ll grow to accommodate them.”

As for his merit award, Spindler said he was shocked to be chosen out of all the students in his program. He was surprised with the award as he walked into class one evening after rushing to get there after chores.

“If I’d known I was getting my picture taken, I’d have cleaned up a bit,” he joked.

Sabel said Spindler exemplifies the kind of student he likes to have in his program.

“He’s very open to information and really weighs the information he’s given to make the best decision possible,” Sabel said.

More importantly, Spindler isn’t shy about sharing what he’s learned with others.

“That’s how the entire program works so well,” said Sabel, a 25-year veteran of Farm Business and Production Management. “It’s that network they develop with other farmers that makes it so successful.”

Future of agriculture

Peterson, 20, farms with his parents, Dave and Cindy Peterson, near Marshfield.

He and his older brother, Michael, hope to gradually take over the farm, where they milk 75 cows and run 400 acres of corn, soybeans and alfalfa.

“We plan on expanding the herd next year and building a barn,” Peterson said, adding their current setup is a stanchion barn.

Though he doesn’t have any solid plans, Peterson said he’s considered investing in robotic milkers someday.

“One day it would be cool to have them,” he said. “They need to advance and get their flaws figured out first,” he said.

Though he grew up on the farm, Peterson said the knowledge he’s gained during the two-year Farm Operation Program — like his insight into robotics — has been invaluable.

The 36-week program, which takes a minimum of two years to complete, focuses on day-to-day farm operations. Each segment is broken into three six-week terms, running from November to April every school year. Classes are from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., working around chore schedules.

“It gives a great overview of everything that has to do with farming, from animal nutrition to crops and pesticides, manure credits,” he said. “It has helped me a lot.”

Peterson was surprised to hear he’d been selected to receive the merit award.

“I had no clue,” he said. “I just walked into class one day and there was this big check.”

Each of the students receiving merit awards were given $100.

Program instructor Teri Raatz said Peterson has received a number of other post-secondary scholarships during the past two years he has been in the Farm Operation Program.

“Trevor is not only an excellent student, he is also a respectful and responsible young man,” Raatz said. “He is always on time and willing to put his best effort forward in and out of class.”

Peterson was an active member of the Marshfield FFA.

“He has carried his passion for agriculture through his post-secondary studies also,” Raatz said. “He is a wonderful example of what the future of agriculture looks like.”

From “MSTC mid-semester classes start Feb. 10″ – Mid-State Technical College is offering a series of “late start” online courses, beginning Feb. 10, for individuals interested in taking a class but are unsure they want to wait until the beginning of next semester.

Available courses include Business Law & Ethics, Developmental Psychology, Intro to Business, Intro to Psychology, Intro to Sociology, Introductory Statistics, Macroeconomics, Microeconomics, Oral/Interpersonal Communication, Principles of Management and Written Communication.

MSTC is encouraging people to register for courses by Feb. 5. Individual classes are subject to cancellation if they have low enrollment. To learn more, call 1-888-575-MSTC (6782), visit or stop by campuses in Stevens Point, Marshfield, Wisconsin Rapids or the county center in Adams. Individuals previously enrolled at MSTC can register online through MyMSTC.

From “Mid-State to open downtown Stevens Point campus in June” – STEVENS POINT — Jerry Stumpf said working on the new Mid-State Technical College campus in downtown Stevens Point wasn’t what he planned for when he signed up to take an IT-network specialist at the college.

Yet there was Stumpf, 65, of Custer, taking measurements earlier this week with about 20 students from a class taught by Kathryn Doar, an IT instructor on the MSTC Stevens Point campus, in the network lab and PC clinic. Students in Doar’s class are being asked to put together a plan for building the computer network and will begin work on the project next week.

“I originally took the class because I wanted to learn more about computers, but (Doar) talked me into getting out and doing some of this work,” said Stumpf, who has participated in other projects through the class at the Stevens Point Area YMCA and Ben Franklin Junior High School.

Construction is on schedule the new campus, located in the J.C. Penney wing of the former CenterPoint MarketPlace, 1001 Centerpoint Drive. Stevens Point Campus Dean Steve Smith said a grand opening, along with a centennial celebration for the college, will be held from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. June 4.

The new campus has been part of the city’s redevelopment plan for CenterPoint Marketplace, which included demolishing the mall portion of the building and rebuilding Third Street to connect to Centerpoint Drive, since it was announced by Mayor Andrew Halverson back in December 2010.

Ellis Stone Construction Co. of Stevens Point is the contractor for the project, which has a cost of about $6 million. Smith said the campus originally was expected to be completed this month, but design changes pushed that date back to June.

The new MSTC building will be 52,000 square feet. The current campus along Michigan Avenue is 36,000 square feet and will be vacated after the new campus opens. The downtown site will serve 2,800 students a year. Smith said the additional space on the new campus will allow for the expansion of programs such as information technology, and for the early childhood education program to be moved from the Wisconsin Rapids campus to Stevens Point.

Smith said construction crews will be working to complete the majority of the work on the new campus over the next month or so, along with the installation of carpeting. Smith said the majority of new furniture is expected to be delivered around Feb. 20. Furniture and other equipment coming over from the old campus will then take place the weekend of May 17 and 18.

“It’s exciting to be coming to a point where we’re starting to see things come together. It’s going to be a hectic time over the next few months, but I think people are going to enjoy it when they get in the building and see what’s there,” Smith said.

From “Federal legislation aimed at helping renewable energy industry” – GRAND RAPIDS — Building on a strong renewable energy base in central Wisconsin, a federal lawmaker has introduced a bill she says will help expand opportunities for students to learn more about the industry.

U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., visited Mid-State Technical College on Thursday to announce the legislation and meet with faculty and students to talk about the benefits of renewable energy jobs to state and national economies.

“It’s a very exciting opportunity to be at a campus which is really taking a leadership role on this issue already, because they’re very excited about the legislation but also have some really good wisdom in terms of having some of these programs under their belt,” Baldwin said.

The Grants for Renewable Energy Education for the Nation, or GREEN, Act would allocate competitive grant money for programs that prepare students for jobs or to attend post-secondary schools. Her office said clean-energy jobs pay about 13 percent better than the average job in the U.S., and the field is growing at nearly twice the rate of the national economy.

The grants also would allow technical colleges and high schools to install renewable energy projects for training purposes, Baldwin said.

In addition, the legislation promotes the renewable energy sector in the classroom in an attempt to get students more interested in the industry at an earlier age, Baldwin said. Mid-State’s renewable energy specialist program prepares students to design an integrated portfolio of renewable and traditional energy-producing systems and is the only program of its kind in the Wisconsin Technical College System.

A number of Wisconsin technical college leaders, including MSTC President Sue Budjac and Wisconsin Technical College System President Morna K. Foy, have expressed support for the bill. MSTC already partners with local employers, including those involved in the Workforce Central Peer Council and the Business Education Partnership Committee.

“We knew that we were kind of out ahead of the curve. We knew that the economy was growing around us, and we’ve begun producing technicians in the last few years that are meeting the needs locally and also on a regional and national basis,” said Ron Zillmer, associate dean of the college’s Technical & Industrial Division. “We’re happy about that, but this is the first real significant federal legislation that addresses that green-collar sector.

“I like the approach that Sen. Baldwin has taken with an educational focus,” Zillmer said. “So often, we try to pour support and funding to business and industry, and that’s fine, but in a situation like this where this is an emerging technology, there needs to be a balance.”

A bill similar to Baldwin’s was introduced in the House of Representatives in June and remains in committee, according to, which tracks federal legislation. The bill, by California Democrat Jerry McNerney, also would spend $100 million to develop career and technical education programs and facilities in the renewable energy field.

Baldwin also visited Milwaukee Area Technical College, Lakeshore Technical College in Cleveland and Northeast Wisconsin Technical College in Green Bay on Wednesday.

From “Baldwin announces legislation to train workers for green jobs” – U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin on Wednesday, January 22nd, visited technical colleges across Wisconsin to announce her new legislation to help train the next generation of skilled-workers for jobs in clean energy.

Baldwin visited Milwaukee Area Technical College, Lakeshore Technical College in Cleveland, and Northeast Wisconsin Technical College in Green Bay on Wednesday and will tour Mid-State Technical College in Wisconsin Rapids on Thursday.

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 jobs of the future.

“In order to create a Made in Wisconsin economy that is built to last, we must invest in job training and workforce readiness for clean energy jobs. In Wisconsin, we know that higher education is the path to the middle class and this legislation will help open the doors of opportunity and strengthen our Wisconsin economy,” said Baldwin. 

Over three million Americans are employed in the growing green collar workforce, including in clean energy and sustainability, which is more than the amount of people working in the fossil fuel industry, and twice as many as those employed in the biotech industry. In fact, the clean energy sector has grown nearly twice as fast as the overall economy. Additionally, 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.

“Over the past several years, Wisconsin’s technical colleges have created cutting edge sustainability programs in areas like wind, solar and geothermal. We’ve also “greened” our remaining curriculum by including sustainability concepts in sectors including agriculture, construction and health care.  The GREEN Act supports and advances this work in a ground-breaking way,” said Morna Foy, President Wisconsin Technical College System.

By supporting the development of clean energy career and technical training programs, the GREEN Act creates a bridge between secondary and postsecondary schools so that students can transition from high school with technical knowledge that will be expanded and honed in a postsecondary environment. Post-secondary institutions, local education agencies, career and technical schools, and community partners will use the grants to enter into partnerships to develop these training programs. The bill also provides opportunities for technical schools to upgrade their own energy systems to serve as model training facilities.

“We applaud Senator Baldwin’s introduction of the Grants for Renewable Energy Education for the Nation (GREEN) Act. Supporting the development of Career Technical Education programs of study in the fields of clean, renewable, and efficient energy ensures that the United States will have the skilled workforce it needs for the 21st century. This legislation will help support the growth and development of this critically important sector of our economy and is an essential component to a sustainable future,” said Kimberly Green, Executive Director National Association of State Directors of Career Technical Education Consortium.

From “Column: Ring in a New Year with MSTC” — By Sue Budjac, president of Mid-State Technical College – I hope you had a joyful holiday season and wish you a happy New Year. This time of year is a culmination of sorts for many Mid-State Technical College students. An impressive class of 142 graduates gathered Dec. 19 for fall semester commencement ceremonies to celebrate a transition from their MSTC hands-on college education to new beginnings and enhanced opportunities in the workforce.

The solid reputation of this college and the impressive skill set of MSTC graduates are well documented. Nearly nine out of 10 MSTC graduates are employed within six months of graduation, and 95 percent of employers who hire MSTC graduates are satisfied or very satisfied with their education, training and skill set. These are some of the reasons why nearly 9,000 people make MSTC their preferred choice for education and training each year.

Yet statistics alone will not ease fear of the unknown. Anxiety sometimes can hinder our desire to achieve the skill set that enhances our career options. Fear ultimately “… holds us and binds us and keeps us from growing.”

However, success is often driven by a willingness to step out of our comfort zones and try something new. The following stories show how two students faced fear, made sacrifices, rolled up their sleeves and tackled the unknown.

Nancy, a 27-year-old mother of three from Stevens Point, was a small-business owner before undergoing an organ transplant, forcing her to give up her business to focus on her recovery. While taking classes on Stevens Point campus in spring 2012, she realized she wanted to pursue a career that empowered her to help others feel good about themselves; cosmetology was a natural fit. She graduated in December with a technical diploma in cosmetology and is currently readying to take her State Board licensing exam. Nancy isn’t going anywhere though; she plans to continue taking classes this semester in MSTC’s business management program.

Dan also stepped away from the status quo. While still a senior in high school, Dan completed paramedic technician program classes at MSTC. Dan since has finished his paramedic core courses, passed his National Registry exams and became licensed in Wisconsin as a paramedic — all before celebrating his 19th birthday. He subsequently was hired as a full-time paramedic, where he works today.

Maybe you know someone who needs encouragement overcoming a fear of trying something new, someone who will benefit from enriching skills they need to be successful in the local workforce. MSTC is the first stop on a path to a new or enhanced career. Our helpful and caring employees provide the custom support and assistance each person needs.

Ring in the New Year with small class sizes, hands-on instruction and engaging faculty with real-world experience. It’s not too late to register for MSTC’s spring semester — classes start Jan. 13. Stop by any of our four locations, call 888-575-MSTC (6782), or visit to learn more.


From “MSTC graduates prepared with more than just industry skills” – MARSHFIELD — For Jasmin Jurgensen, Thursday not only marked the end of a 18-month-long educational experience, but also a the beginning of a new chapter.

The 21-year-old Marshfield native said she was relieved to have graduated with an associate’s degree in business management from Mid-State Technical College, and she looks forward to the next step in her life.

“It feels really good, like I accomplished something,” said Jurgensen, who currently works as a receptionist and night auditor at Hotel Marshfield. It took her only 18 months to graduate, an unusual feat for a business management degree, she said, taking 18 credits each semester.

Jurgensen’s parents, grandmother and her 3-year-old son were there to support her.

She is one of 142 students across Mid-State’s three campuses who graduated Thursday. A total of 29 students graduated from the Marshfield campus Thursday night at the Holiday Inn and Convention Center.

Many of those who graduated Thursday already have jobs, said Connie Willfahrt, vice president of Student Affairs & Information Technology.

“We’re seeing more and more students preparing their application materials earlier than in the past,” Willfahrt said. “Students (are) taking a more proactive approach sooner.”

It’s a trend college officials attribute, in part, to a more difficult job climate but also a greater emphasis in so-called “soft skills,” such as communication, trust-building and teamwork, just to name a few, Willfahrt said.

“They’re really recognizing the need to put forth what I call the total package,” she said. “I really attribute the bulk of that to our faculty and how they have incorporated it into our curriculum in a way that is heard by our students.”

Employers, too, are looking for workers who know more than just the basics of their specialized industry, Willfahrt said.

“Employers really emphasize the need for … problem solvers, punctual, team-oriented (workers),” she said. “That’s been a key factor in some of the changes that our faculty have made.”


From “Tech schools prepared for changes in GED tests” – WISCONSIN RAPIDS — Mid-State Technical Colleges in central Wisconsin doubled the number of offerings of tests for General Equivalency Diplomas in preparation for changes taking effect Jan. 2.

Those seeking to obtain their GEDs were encouraged to try to complete the process before the changes took hold. Tests often were offered on a weekly basis at the three technical colleges, and Portage and Adams County jails. The main test site is at the Wisconsin Rapids campus; test examiners travel to other sites.

“We started the push, really, about September last year, so we’ve been at this for over a year to try and get people to finish up,” said Jo-Ellen Fairbanks-Schutz, MSTC associate dean of general education for the colleges. “We had an increase of over a couple hundred tests, previous to our big push.”

Last year, more than 1,000 tests were taken between all the test locations; since July, 402 tests were taken, Fairbanks-Schutz said.

“There were some areas of the state that saw a very marked increase in demand for GED testing,” Fairbanks-Schutz said. “While we saw an increase, it wasn’t as dramatic as some areas of the state. Madison and Milwaukee were just bursting at the seams; we were able to handle the demand with extra seats available.”

There are a few changes, but there are two major ones — the test will only be available on computer, and the 2002 test series will be replaced with the 2014 series, Fairbanks-Schutz said.

“Historically, it’s always been a pen and paper test,” she said.

The 2002 test series had five components: reading, writing, math, science and social studies. The new series will not include the writing component; that will be dispersed into the other four areas. The new structure is based on the Common Core standards and college and career readiness standards, Fairbanks-Schutz said.

“The downside of the changes was if a candidate started testing in the 2002 series, and did not complete or pass the test, those tests cannot be rolled over,” Fairbanks-Schutz said.

The testing is somewhat time-consuming, and advisers often recommend candidates break up the testing cycle, Fairbanks-Schutzs said. Each component takes at least an hour to complete.

The college has a plan for candidates who are not computer literate. The institution has invested in NEO 2 from Renaissance Learning, which comes with a keyboarding program.

“We’ll start the students just learning the basic keyboarding skills while studying the content to get ready for the test,” Fairbanks-Schutz said. “We have another software program that we bought that looks just like the (new) GED and it specifically goes over the computer skills (candidates) are going to need to be able to take the test.

“We’re trying to get it from multiple angles, depending on the skill of the students, to give them multiple options.”

The college’s Academic Success Center also offers preparation resources for students.

The cost for testing also has changed. The 2002 series was $120 for all five tests; the new test will cost $33.75 for each component or $135 total. Retesting is available at $30 a test.

Candidates also have to wait 30 days before retaking the test, so anyone taking a test in December and not succeeding will have to take the test under the new system. The last test dates in Wisconsin were Dec. 5 for the writing test and Dec. 13 for all other tests. The official tests are not available online, according to the MSTC website.

Wisconsin test centers offering computer-based testing include Northeast Wisconsin Technical College, Milwaukee Area Technical College and Gateway Technical College, according the the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction website.

From ” MSTC forestry students win accolades” – A total of 23 Mid-State Technical College students went to the Tree Care Industry Expo in Charlotte, N.C., recently, a huge gathering of tree care vendors, employers, employees and students.

Almost 20 colleges and universities competed in the conference’s Nov. 15 Tree Care Skills Competition. For the first time in the college’s history, MSTC students took home prizes in the both the men’s and women’s overall championship.

Bryce Crunkilton took first on the safety portion of the student competition and won the overall championship for men. Kerstyn Perrett placed first on the work climb component and placed second in the overall championship for women.

Participants competed in up to five competitions: work climb, scramble, safety check, throw line and written exam. MSTC students thrived against some of the larger schools in the nation, including BYU, Utah State University, Pennsylvania State University, Michigan State University, Virginia Tech University, Purdue University and the University of Tennessee.

“I am so proud of all the students that went to the Expo,” said MSTC urban forestry technician instructor Deb Crunkilton. “I had high expectations, and they exceeded those.”

The TCI EXPO, held Nov. 14 to 16, is the world’s largest tree care industry trade show and conference. The skills competitions were part of the conference’s 17th annual Student Career Days, open to students enrolled in arboriculture, horticulture, forestry and related programs. Students attended a job fair, as well as several casual receptions where they met and networked with potential employers. TCI Expo attendees also had the opportunity to visit about 200 vendors, as well as a tour of the Bartlett Tree Expert research lab and arboretum. Seminar topics ranged from safety and business strategies to workplace dynamics and tree health.

“All of our students — a record number — were engaged and excited to meet people, look at equipment and compete in various events,” Crunkilton said.

Established in 1938 as the National Arborist Association, today’s Tree Care Industry Association is a trade association of more than 2,200 commercial tree care firms and affiliated companies. It develops safety and education programs, standards of tree care practice, and management information for arboriculture firms around the world. Their Certified Tree Care Safety Professional program is the only safety credentialing program in the industry. TCI Magazine is the most circulated and read publication in the industry.


From “Capitalizing on collaboration through grants” – By Sue Budjac, president Mid-State Technical College - Grant applications are often highly competitive, so a grant award is acknowledgment of the high value and impact of Mid-State Technical College, or MSTC, programs and services.

Grants allow us to capitalize on existing assets, people and sources to improve the quality of an MSTC education. They are also a tribute to the innovative thinking and determined efforts of our employees.

This past year, our college was awarded a total of $1,005,047 in grants, an increase from the $858,788 received during the previous fiscal year and $777,596 three years ago.

Collaboration is an important aspect of the grant process and MSTC’s culture. For example, in partnership with Incourage Community Foundation and our K-12 partners, MSTC recently received one of only 10 national grants from Constellation, a national energy company. This $45,000 award enables MSTC Renewable Energy program faculty to help nearly 200 students from four local high schools to measure the energy efficiency of their school facilities and design a photovoltaic system to be used as a demonstration unit in future classes.

We also regularly collaborate with other Wisconsin technical colleges. The U.S. Department of Labor recently awarded a $23.1 million grant to Wisconsin’s 16 technical colleges to address emerging needs in the Information Technology sector, from which MSTC received nearly $900,000 to create an Automation Specialist Advanced Technical Certificate. A similar grant last year provided MSTC with close to $600,000 for a Stainless Steel Welding program at Marshfield Campus.

These cooperative efforts allowed us to leverage $1.5 million to proactively respond to emerging workforce needs.

Grants often enrich the way we maximize our college and community strengths and resources. For instance, the Constellation grant utilizes existing high school facilities as laboratories for hands-on training. As a result, students learn in a real-world environment, fostering a positive learning experience and familiarizing them with the benefits and rigor of higher education.

Each grant is unique in its composition and benefits. Nonetheless, there are many common themes. Our strategy is to acquire grants that are meaningful for the work we do in the region. Grants enable us to stretch our resources and reduce pressure on our operational budget while enhancing the quality of an MSTC education, ultimately reinforcing student success.

I want to acknowledge the continuing efforts of MSTC employees and our local partners who bring grants to the college and central Wisconsin. These grants are an affirmation of our ability to creatively engage local school districts, community organizations and businesses in meaningful partnerships. They also complement our unwavering effort to innovate while making the most of our strengths and opportunities. And, when coupled with our operational resources, they enhance the delivery of in-demand learning experiences and valued student services, increasing the positive impact we have on students.

From “Auburndale man receives dislocated worker award” – North Central Wisconsin Workforce Development Board selected and announced the 2013 recipients of its first Erhard Huettl Awards of Excellence. Nominees were solicited throughout the Workforce Development Board’s nine-county region, for the following three categories: Workforce Investment Act Youth Program Participant of the Year, Adult Program Participant of the Year and Dislocated Worker Participant of the Year.

WIA Dislocated Worker Program Participant of the Year recipient is James Stanchik of Auburndale. Stanchik is a dislocated worker who lost his job of 22 years at NewPage’s paper mill in Whiting. The unexpected closure and loss of a good-paying job was a huge shock to Stanchik and his wife.

He quickly realized that in order to obtain another good-paying job he would need long-term occupational training in a high-demand career field. He began working with NCWWDB’s WIA Dislocated Worker Program shortly after his layoff. He graduated with distinction, from the Machine Tool Technician Technical Diploma program at Mid-State Technical College in May and started his new, full-time job as a lathe operator at Point Precision in Plover a mere four days after graduating from the program.

WIA Youth Program Participant of the Year recipient is Jacob Neathery of Rhinelander. WIA Adult Program Participant of the Year recipient is Traci Dumpprope of Rhinelander.


From “Constellation awards $310,000 in Energy Education grants” – Energy company Constellation has selected 10 recipients for its 2013 E2 Energy to Educate grant program. Winning institutions will win a share of $310,000 to fund projects that will affect 21,000 students in grades 6 through college.

Winners and their projects include:

  • The Baltimore Polytechnic Institute, where 180 students will help make a classroom that uses only solar energy;
  • One-hundred-twenty Coppin State University students will study new energy technology, such as quantum dot solar cells and nanotechnology;
  • More than 1,100 high school and college students will help create “a 200 square-foot energy learning station” and “an energy-efficient architectural design for a new 2500 square-foot Evergreen Energy Education (E3) EHC classroom facility that will provide a functioning example of green energy solutions” at the Evergreen Heritage Foundation, according to information released by Constellation;
  • Fairleigh Dickinson University will host a conference on global sustainability and renewable energy for 550 students from various New Jersey high schools;
  • Green Street Academy and Living Classrooms Crossroads School will expand their Green Street Racers after school program and competition;
  • The “Baltimore-Washington Electric Vehicle Initiative (BEVI) will engage a youth service corps of high school and college students focused on electric vehicle education,” according to information released by Constellation;
  • Faculty from Mid-State Technical College will provide curriculum and instruction to help students from four high schools measure the energy efficiency of their school facilities and design a photovoltaic system. The system will then be used as a demonstration unit for science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) courses;
  • The Rochester Museum will help students learn about energy consumption and production with hands on design and build challenges in a new Inventor Center exhibit;
  • Solar One has developed the Green Design Lab, “a hands-on sustainability curriculum aimed at greening urban schools,” according to information released by Constellation; and
  • The University of Maryland Baltimore County will host a competition that asks 200 students to design new demand response technology.

“Constellation is proud to support student creativity and innovation through our Energy to Educate program,” said Joseph Nigro, CEO of Constellation, in a prepared statement. “We congratulate this year’s grant recipients for their efforts in developing hands-on projects that explore energy issues.”

More information on the winning projects is available at


From “MSTC Foundation receives $10,000 donation” — Districts Mutual Insurance, or DMI, a Wisconsin Technical College System, or WTCS, insurance carrier and risk management company, has made a donation of $10,000 to the Mid-State Technical College Foundation.

Mid-State Technical College Vice President of Finance Nelson Dahl, on behalf of DMI executives, presented an oversized check to MSTC Foundation Board President Greg Krings during the Board’s regularly scheduled meeting recently. The funds are unrestricted, meaning the foundation has the ability to designate them to the highest areas of student need.

Each Wisconsin technical college will receive a check in the same amount for a total contribution of $160,000, the company announced at its October quarterly meeting.

“This donation commemorates our 10th year of operations and also serves as a tangible benefit of being a member of DMI — a company whose primary focus is on the needs of its members,” said DMI Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Steven Stoeger-Moore.

MSTC, one of 16 colleges in the WTCS, offers more than 100 associate degrees, technical diplomas and certificates. Student-focused and community-based, MSTC serves a resident population of approximately 165,000 in central Wisconsin with campuses in Marshfield, Stevens Point and Wisconsin Rapids, and a learning center in Adams. Nearly nine in 10 MSTC graduates are employed within six months of graduation.

DMI was established in 2004 to provide a range of commercial insurance coverages to meet the unique needs of the 16 Wisconsin technical college districts. DMI provides a menu of insurance and risk management services and solutions to address the multiple exposures created by the delivery of vocational, technical and adult education.


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