From haywardwi.com: “WITC-Hayward plans hospitality seminar Apr. 26″ -- In a joint effort, WITC-Hayward and Sawyer County UW-Extension will host a customer service seminar designed specifically for tourism employees from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, April 26, at WITC Hayward.

Andrew Nussbaum of the Wisconsin Department of Tourism will present a full-day of informative tips on how employees in the tourism industry can help employers generate customer loyalty. This seminar, Northern Hospitality, will be held at WITC-Hayward. Materials, lunch and snacks are included in the fee of $35 per person or $16.67 for individuals 62 or better.

Employees will hear and be involved in the discussion of the importance of personal job success, customer relations and selling. Some of the specific topics will include: honesty; teamwork; loyalty and job performance; punctuality and attendance; work ethic, selling products, personal image, social media interaction and the job, dealing with customer complaints, and the top 10 customer relations strategies. This seminar will be appropriate for all ages, including high school students.

Seating is limited so register early. For more information or to register, call WITC at (715) 634-5167. You may also view course information at www.witc.edu/classfinder.

From newrichmond-news.com: “Lt. Gov. Kleenfisch visits NR businesses” – Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch spent the day in New Richmond last Wednesday keeping company with local business people at a breakfast meeting and during tours of WITC and three local manufacturers.

On the lieutenant governor’s itinerary were a Business Breakfast at WITC with 50 area business owners, a tour of WITC and visits with Wisconsin Lighting, Antlers by Klaus and Phillips-Medisize.

At the Business Breakfast, which was sponsored by WITC, the City of New Richmond and the New Richmond Area Chamber of Commerce, Kleefisch talked about tax reform and Gov. Scott Walker’s “Blueprint to Prosperity” he unveiled during his State of the State Address earlier this year.

“Everyone in Wisconsin who pays taxes is going to see tremendous tax relief based on that,” Kleefisch said. “If you add it all up, between the $58 for the income tax relief, the $101 of property tax relief, the $57.90 per month people are going to get from withholding changes, that’s about $681 for the average Wisconsin family when you add it all up in April. That’s a big deal.”

Kleefisch’s New Richmond visit was part of a tour to spread the word about the tax relief Walker has brought to Wisconsinites, and how much more can be done.

“After the blueprint is signed into law, the governor will have signed about $2 billion of tax relief into law,” Kleefisch said. “It’s extraordinary and people are thankful for it, but we want to do more, because we know taxpayers know what to do with their money better than government ever could.”

Part of the tour was also meant to solicit ideas from business people around the state, Kleefisch said. And the Business Breakfast was a good opportunity for her to hear directly from those business owners. She said she is urging people to come to tax reform roundtable sessions and also to visit taxreform.wi.gov.

After the Business Breakfast, Kleefisch took a tour of the WITC campus with WITC Senior Director Larry Gee and Campus Administrator Joe Huftel.

Next, Kleefisch and her entourage — including New Richmond Mayor Fred Horne, City Administrator Mike Darrow and Community Development Director Beth Thompson — toured a couple of businesses in the city’s former WeTEC building.

Todd Loehr, owner of Wisconsin Lighting, told the lieutenant governor about the history of his company and showed her the ins and outs of his custom lampshade manufacturing process that takes online orders from around the country.

Loehr also took Kleefisch to another business in the building that not too many people know about: Antlers by Klaus.

Antlers by Klaus touts itself as the largest antler replicating company in the nation with more than 250 replicas. The company meticulously creates each replica to appear just as the original set of antlers and each set is painted by hand in a space inside the former WeTEC building.

Owner Klaus Lebrecht told Kleefisch his company’s story from how he got his start to how he got his work into some of the biggest sporting goods chain stores in the United States.

Before leaving town, Kleefisch reminisced about one of her earliest trips to western Wisconsin.

“I love New Richmond,” Kleefisch said. “St. Croix County was one of the first counties I ever campaigned in during my very first week on the trail back in 2010. So, I have very fond memories of being here, but I think the memories I’m building today are even fonder still, because we are talking about the growth potential of a community that is really on the cusp of something special.”

From ricelakeonline.com: “Work ethic, character issues are problems for employers” — There isn’t a lack of jobs in Barron County. There’s a lack of employable people.

That was the theme of the Barron County Workforce Skills Conference, which gathered business, education and community leaders together to discuss local workforce issues Monday, March 17 at Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College.
The problem, often called a skills gap, is only expected to worsen as baby boomers retire.

In Northwest Wisconsin there are now more people who are 65 than who are 18. That ratio is expected to broaden for the next decade or more.

The results of a survey of 46 Barron County employers were presented at the conference. Many reported a lack of qualified applicants for jobs.

“Businesses are looking to add or recruit people they can’t find,” said Beth Mathison of Manpower Eau Claire.

The skills most needed according to respondents were in customer service, general maintenance, office skills, computer/technical skills, skilled trades, banking/accounting, sales, welding and machining.

In predicting future needs, employees with general office, robotics and masonry skills were mentioned the most.

But it was a lack of basic or “soft” skills that got people talking.

Survey respondents made such comments as “don’t seem to have a strong work ethic,” “nobody wants to talk anymore; they want to email/text everything” and “lack of interpersonal skills is appalling.”

Conference attendee Dane Deutsch, owner of a gymnastics center and IT company, said, “I’ve never fired one person for a tech skill. It has always been a character issue.”

Another attendee said, “If you gave me a choice, I’ll take the person with the critical skills. I can teach the tech skills.”

The survey showed the biggest soft skill deficiencies, in order, were ability to organize and use information, integrity/honesty, speaking, creativity, customer service, reading, writing and problem solving.

In regard to improving the workforce, soft skills was rated ‘most important’ by more than 50% of respondents, followed by occupational skills, specific competencies and educational skills.

Respondents said the most important soft skills, in order by percentage, were attendance/punctuality, initiative/motivation, integrity/honesty, productivity, teamwork and customer service.

Education
Barron School District Superintendant Craig Broeren said soft skills are emphasized in the school system, but home environment is also key to what kind of adult a student becomes.

Some survey respondents suggested the next generation of workers doesn’t have the right attitude toward work and finding work and aren’t being prepared accordingly in schools.

But Chetek-Weyerhaeuser High School principal Larry Zeman said the average adult would not fare well in the advanced placement calculus or chemistry classes students are taking now.

“What kids know now far surpasses anything I knew when I graduated in 1981,” he said.

But even that may not be enough to guarantee career success.

“The last time we hired someone with just a high school diploma was 10 years ago,” said Dan Conroy, an executive at Nexen Group, an advanced manufacturer with a site in Webster.

Conroy said 70% of Nexen employees have a 2-year degree and can get a starting wage of nearly $20 an hour and work up to $35 an hour.

“We’re successful because we’ve gone high-tech, have well-educated employees and pay well,” he said.

Zeman agreed a 2-year degree is a good option for many students.

“We’ve made a concerted effort in out school district to not fool kids into 4 years or nothing else,” he said.

Zeman also said his district is investing $250,000 to upgrade technical education equipment and offer more welding and machine tool classes in a partnership with local technical colleges.

The school district is also trying to build connections with local businesses to create more learning opportunities.

Jim Woods, representing Wisconsin Voices from the Classroom, presented the results of a survey of 1,973 state teachers, 80% of which said there should be more interaction between schools and business.

The survey also showed 67% of responding teachers believe the educational system is on the “wrong track.” Many also said schools do not have enough money to educate students well, and many feel unappreciated as teachers.
“It is a population who thinks they’re not getting enough support from the general public,” said Woods.

But he also said the survey also showed many teachers, particularly younger ones, are willing to change to better student education.
“The only way we’re going to get there is having more discussions like this,” said Woods.

Skill Survey
The survey was conducted by the Barron County Economic Development Corporation in partnership with the Rice Lake Chamber of Commerce and Economic Development Committee.

The survey was distributed through other chamber of commerce groups, the BCEDC website, meetings, individual requests and business newsletters.
Most respondents, in order by percentage, were in the manufacturing, construction, health and community services, hotel/restaurant/entertainment or retail and sales industries.

Nearly 75% of respondents had been in business more than 20 years. About 80% had experienced increased or unchanged sales from 2012-2013. About one-third planned to add employees in 2013.

 

From northlandsnewscenter.com: “Businesses in Wis. eligible for $15 million in grants to close skills gap” – Wisconsin businesses are now eligible to apply for a grant to help close the workforce skills gap.

The Fast Forward worker training grant program is providing $15 million worth of funding to help businesses address the need for skilled workers.

On Tuesday, Shelly Harkins from the State Department of Workforce Development spoke about the program at Wisconsin Indian Head Technical College in Superior.

The grants enable businesses to deliver customized training to workers and local job seekers.

Bob Meyer, president of WITC, says this new program will help address the shortage of skilled labor which many businesses in the state are facing.

“It has been estimated that if we can match the right skills and talent with vacant jobs, we can actually reduce unemployment by 2.5 percent in the Minnesota, Wisconsin region,” said Meyer.

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker signed the program into law last March.

Walker is proposing to add another $34 million to the program.

So far, two rounds of grants have been given out.

In round one, $2.6 million was awarded to 32 grantees in the targeted training sector.

Almost half of the grants partnered with a technical college to provide training in their area.

In round two, $7.5 million will be awarded to seven areas of Wisconsin.

From uwsuper.edu: “WITC and LSC students find home at UW-Superior” — The residence halls at UW-Superior aren’t just a home for UW-Superior students. Students from Lake Superior College and Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College also call Crownhart, Curran-McNeill-Ostrander, and Ross/Hawkes Halls their “home away from home.”

“I chose to live in the res halls because I feel it is a cost effective way for college students to live,” says Cole Oksa, a LSC student living in Ostrander Hall. “You have a meal plan, a place to sleep, and in the time that you are here you make many new friends.”

Just down the street from the UW-Superior campus is Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College campus for Superior. Many WITC students chose to live on the UW-Superior campus due to the proximity to their college. “The residence halls are where I’ve met all of my friends since attending WITC,” says Garret Hodd, resident of Hawkes Hall.

In addition to having rooms, meal plans, and friends just like any other student, non-UWS students are also able to work out at the Marcovich Wellness Center and participate in intramural sports, just like any other resident.

“We build in the cost of the MWC membership into the non-UWS student rates in the halls so they, too, can workout and play at the MWC,” says Mickey Fitch, Assistant Director of Residence Life. “We want these students to be active residence hall students as well, and heard the feedback from other non-UWS students a few years ago that they wanted access to their resource, so we made it happen.”

For more information about living on campus, contact Residence Life. All housing contracts go through Live@UWS, an online contracting, roommate matching and room selection service directed by the student. Consult room rates online through the UW-Superior Residence Life webpage. Students can find more information on the Residence Life Facebook page as well.

From northlandsnewscenter.com: “WITC ranks among top 150 community colleges” — Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College is among 150 community colleges eligible to compete for the 2015 Aspen Prize for Community Excellence and one million dollars in prize funds.

WITC was chosen from more than one thousand community colleges across the nation.

WITC President Bob Meyer says, “this ranking recognizes the dedicated efforts of WITC’s entire staff and its continued focus on excellence.”

From haywardwi.com: “WITC to offer customer service seminar” — WITC-Hayward Continuing Education will conduct a seminar for hospitality and retail customer service personnel that will prepare staff members to offer exceptional customer service skills during the busy summer season.

In a joint effort, WITC-Hayward and Sawyer County UW-Extension will host the seminar, designed specifically for northern tourism employees. On Saturday, April 26, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., Andrew Nussbaum of the Wisconsin Department of Tourism will present informative tips on how employees in the tourism industry can help employers generate customer loyalty. The seminar, Northern Hospitality, will be held at WITC-Hayward. Materials, lunch and snacks are included in the fee of $35 per person or $16.67 for individuals 62 or better.

Employees will hear and be involved in the discussion of the importance of personal job success, customer relations and selling. Some of the specific topics will include: honesty; teamwork; loyalty & job performance; punctuality & attendance; work ethic, selling products, personal image, social media interaction & the job, dealing with customer complaints, and the top ten customer relations strategies. The seminar will be appropriate for all ages, including high school students.

Seating is limited, so employers should plan for and register early. For more information or to register, call WITC at (715) 634-5167. Course information also may be viewed at www.witc.edu/classfinder.

From northlandsnewscenter.com: “WITC students get experience from top aviation companies” – It’s not every day that students get to work hand and hand with equipment and resources that will prepare them for real life work opportunities.

But students, learning aerospace composite technology at Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College in Superior, are getting to work side by side with two of the top aviation companies in Duluth.

Last fall WITC started a program for students interested in making airplanes.

The students are getting the chance to learn the latest in technology with the most up to date equipment.

The high tech education is putting the students in a good position for a number of jobs.

“If they have a thorough understanding of aerospace composites they would have no difficulty working in less exacting related fields of composites, such as aviation, sporting goods, or aviational products,” composite instructor, Tim Wright said.

Airplane makers, Cirrus and Kestrel in the Twin Ports have signed up to serve on the program’s advisory board, to work alongside the staff, and to possibly hire students on graduation.

“Those should be a great deal of opportunity then there is now and will be in the future with Kestrel company in town and Cirrus in Duluth,” WITC student, Edward Carlson says.

Cirrus even donated a plane for the students to work with to learn how to identify and fix aircraft problems.

“It will be on the receiving end of my hammer quite a bit and then so it becomes an advanced repair project for the students,” Wright said.

“So many things are going to be transitioning from being made out of metal and other materials into composites. I just thought it was a great place to be,” said Carlson.

The first group of students to complete the composite program are expected to graduate in spring of 2015.

From aspeninstitute.org: “2015 Eligible Community Colleges” — The Aspen Institute is pleased to name the following 150 community colleges eligible for the Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence.  We recognize that there are many community colleges around the country that are employing innovative strategies and achieving excellent results for their students.  The bar for the Aspen Prize is intentionally set high in order to identify those institutions that have demonstrated exceptional levels of student success.

In a comprehensive review of the publicly available data, these 150 two-year institutions—from 37 states—have demonstrated strong outcomes considering three areas of student success:

  • student success in persistence, completion, and transfer;
  • consistent improvement in outcomes over time; and
  • equity in outcomes for students of all racial/ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds.

To ensure full representation of the range and diversity of the sector, adjustments were applied with respect to mission, size, and minority representation.

Wisconsin

  • Chippewa Valley Technical College Eau Claire, WI
  • Lakeshore Technical College Cleveland, WI
  • Moraine Park Technical College Fond du Lac, WI
  • Northcentral Technical College Wausau, WI
  • Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College Shell Lake, WI

From northlandsnewscenter.com: “WITC’s welding program helps inmates find work after incarceration” – School may not be in session at Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College in Superior, but learning through WITC’s welding program is still sparking.

The welding room at WITC was filled with the bright flicker of flames as people on probation, parole, or currently incarcerated, took advantage of the Accelerated Welding Program being offered through the Wisconsin Department of Corrections Employment Program.

“We’ve been doing these for about five or six years,” said welding instructor Dan Wilkinson.

Years of teaching valuable skills that can make all the difference in the lives of participating inmates.

“It’s great that they’re giving us an opportunity to learn something, because a lot of us don’t have skills,” said Matthew Sanford, an inmate at the Gordon Correctional Facility.

The intense learning program involves many different styles of welding, to prepare inmates for possible careers after the completion of their sentence.

“We’ll bring these guys in for three weeks and there’s an employer at the end of it that’s agreed to interview them… so that’s the big piece of this program… that there’s an opportunity,” said Wilkinson.

…an opportunity that is paying off for many.

49% of the program’s 59 past participants are now working in the area either in a welding capacity or as a general laborer.

“A lot of us never had the opportunity for this and the fact that they’re giving us the opportunity means so much,” said Sanford.

Accelerated Welding Programs like these are among the most successful community corrections employment programs in the state, providing the spark for success after incarceration.

The current welding class is the fifth Accelerated Welding Program that WITC, NW-CEP, and Wisconsin DOC have partnered on.

WITC president receives honor

November 29, 2013

From ashlandwi.com: “WITC president receives honor” – Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College president Bob Meyer recently accepted the District 3 National Council for Marketing & Public Relations (NCMPR) Pacesetter award.

The Pacesetter of the Year Award recognizes a community college president or CEO who has demonstrated special leadership and support in marketing and public relations. It is awarded annually in each of NCMPR’s seven districts, and district recipients automatically become a nominee for the national award, which is presented at the national conference.

“I am enormously humbled and honored to receive this recognition,” said Meyer. “This award also reflects on the many staff that have dedicated themselves to our students and contributed to WITC’s national ranking. Achieving such a high ranking really helps our marketing efforts.”

Throughout Meyer’s tenure, WITC has enjoyed a positive image in the media and community. He strove to advance two-year colleges regionally and nationally through advocacy. Last year, WITC celebrated its centennial, which provided media attention for the college, and the college was recently named fourth-best two-year college in the nation by Washington Monthly magazine. Meyer included this in his PR communications and advocacy efforts with key stakeholders and legislators.

To advance the college nationally, Meyer attends the National Legislative Summit in Washington D.C. every February accompanied by other administrators in the college to meet with Wisconsin senators and congressmen and women.

Under Meyer’s leadership, WITC added several new programs to respond to the needs of the community while expanding its online offerings.

“I regard this award as more of an acknowledgement of others accomplishments as much as my own journey,” said Meyer. “In fact, I’m more of a facilitator of a college full of pacesetters and a statewide consortium of pacesetters.”

 

 

From haywardwi.com: “WITC chief gets earful on needs here” – Local residents and businesspeople spoke about what new classes might help them and the local economy at a Nov. 5 community forum conducted by Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College (WITC) President Robert Meyer in Hayward.

Meyer said WITC is developing a strategic plan for 2015-18. Headquartered in Shell Lake, the college has campuses in Ashland, Superior, Rice Lake and New Richmond, and outreach centers in Hayward and Ladysmith.

Meyer noted that “Washington Monthly” magazine has ranked WITC among the top 10 best two-year colleges in the nation in three consecutive studies, most recently fourth best in 2013.

Also, WITC surveys its students every year on topics including their interaction with faculty and opinion of student services, Meyer said. “We use those surveys for continuous improvement. Our staff is dedicated to that and to customer service,” he said.

Hayward resident and WITC adjunct instructor Matt Fitch said “I got a great education through WITC. I did a lot of classes right here in Hayward. I would like to see more blended classes (online, interactive TV and face to face),” he added. We need more staff here, such as teacher’s aides, who can answer questions about the subject matter and the technology in use.”

Meyer responded, “We have to demonstrate the demand for a program. The intent of outreach centers is to provide a place to get started on classes.” He added that WITC covers a large area geographically; on the average, each student travels 37 miles to attend a class.

Craig Faulstich, Hayward assistant police chief,  has taught police science classes for WITC. He said he favors in-person, hands-on instruction, especially for inservices for professional personnel, rather than via interactive TV. “It would be nice to have those held locally in Hayward,” he added.

Amanda Fitch, an X-ray technician, said that as a mom with kids at home and with a full-time job, local ITV and night classes are a good fit for her.

Jennifer Moe, assistant director of nursing for Golden Living Center-Valley of Hayward, said, “We have a lot of job openings for nursing assistants.” People take the class, but then have to travel elsewhere to be tested, she said.

Jan McKichan, vice-president of nursing administration for Hayward Area Memorial Hospital, said, “We’re in the same boat. We have an absence of CNA (Certified Nursing Assistant) classes in the area.” She said the state stopped registering and certifying CNAs and a company named Promisor has taken over certification — “and that changed everything.

“There is an absence of CNA classes in the area,” McKichan said. They do test for personal care workers here,” she added. She indicated that the hospital is working on a five- to 10-year strategic plan and has identified a need for more therapists.

“WITC grads are probably 90 percent of our staff,” McKichan added. “I would love to see more clinical time (offered by WITC).” A two-year nursing graduate is probably equal to a four-year graduate in many settings, she added. Another big need is for training programs in medical coding and electronic health care records, for which there is an absence of instructors, she indicated.

Meyer responded, “We know that health occupations will explode and that we’re an aging population, so we will lean more on the health care system.”

Bill Johnson of Johnson Timber said he graduated from the Hayward Community Schools and served on the school board for 11 years. “There’s always that push for four year colleges,” he said. “But a lot of kids won’t make it through a four year college. It’s not always a four year program that we want, but skills.”

Meyer said “We need to do a better job of helping the guidance counselors,” adding that “The scope of jobs has exploded; clearly 50 to 70 percent of the jobs will require a two-year degree. The No. 1 influence on kids is the parent, so we need to educate the parent about four-year college graduates versus two-year college graduates. Parents need to look at all the options.”

Meyer cited a 2012 survey of graduates indicating that WITC has a 92 percent job placement rate within six months, with 73 percent of those graduates employed in jobs related to their course of study at an average salary of $33,800. Also, 81 percent of graduates stay and contribute to the state’s economic development, with 69 percent of them staying in the WITC district.

Karen Melasecca, manager of Namekagon Transit, said that “Here in Hayward we need courses to train skilled mechanics and a commercial driver’s license course. We have 29 employees, nine of them working in the office, of whom seven are older than me. They struggle with computer skills,” she said.

Melasecca said it’s not economical for people to drive to Rice Lake to take a course.

From ashlandwi.com: “WITC gets high marks from report” — Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College’s results from the 2013 Community College Survey of Student Engagement (CCSSE) indicates that an overwhelming majority of WITC students feel that personal connections they experience at the college are critical to their academic success.

“We participate in CCSSE to continually improve the quality of education we offer our students.” says Bob Meyer, president of WITC. “Quality is about the student experience — about what we do to engage our students, help them achieve their educational goals and ultimately improve the quality of their lives through education.”

CCSSE uses five benchmarks that allow colleges to monitor their performance in areas that are focused on teaching, learning and student success. These benchmarks encompass 38 engagement items on the survey that reflect a variety of aspects of students’ learning experiences.

Among the findings, 96 percent of survey respondents would recommend WITC to a friend or family member and 94 percent of students rated their educational experience at WITC as good or excellent.

“From my perspective of what the results say, WITC isn’t just a place to get a quality education, WITC is the place to be for connecting with fellow students, faculty and staff and provides services that help students accomplish their goals,” said Jennifer Kunselman, research and data coordinator at WITC. “Nearly three-fourths of CCSSE respondents have accomplished their goals at WITC or will return to WITC within the next 12 months.”

The study also found at WITC students report strong relationships; find instructors to be available, helpful and sympathetic; and that staff are helpful, considerate and flexible.

The CCSSE survey — administered directly to community college students at participating colleges —helps participating institutions assess quality in community college education, focus on good educational practice, and identify areas in which they can improve programs and services for students. Washington Monthly, an independent national magazine, utilizes CCSSE and IPEDS data to rank colleges and in 2013 they ranked WITC fourth in their listing of “America’s 50 Best Community Colleges.”

WITC will use the results in many ways, from improving and adding services to assist students, with marketing, to its quality review process, as well as strategic planning for the direction of the college.

Research shows that the more actively engaged students are — with college faculty and staff, with other students, and with the subject matter — the more likely they are to learn and to achieve their academic goals.

“Students that attend WITC build strong relationships with each other and college staff that not only help them succeed while learning, but also face the many challenges along the way,” Kunselman said. “The study shows that a large portion of our students face multiple responsibilities while they are attending WITC. Many have long commutes to the WITC campus they are attending, they have jobs in addition to taking classes and many have families that are dependent on their care. The relationships that students build at WITC help them face these challenges and play a big part in their succeess at WITC.”

 

From canadianmanufacturing.com: “Bridging the Skills Gap” – New Richmond, WI—A new partnership has been forged between industry and education, with Bosch Packaging Technology, Inc., and Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College (WITC), both in New Richmond, Wisconsin forming a joint apprenticeship venture.

“We’ve been working together on this project since last spring,” says Nancy Cerritos, WITC academic dean of trade and technology. “Bosch is very proactive and realizes it will lose a significant portion of its skilled work force in New Richmond and Shell Lake over the next five to seven years. They wanted to create apprenticeships – which we have available and can develop — to create a better skilled work force for the future.”

Adds Mark Hanson, manager, continuous improvement coordination and technical functions at Bosch Packaging Technology: “We tried to hire local workers, but it’s not a densely populated area, and we have a need for highly skilled workers, so we had to come up with a new approach.

“By utilizing our strong relationship with WITC and the state we were able to custom-design a program that gives us the skilled workers we need.”

The program includes electro-mechanical technician and machinist apprentices. The electro-mechanic apprenticeship—the combination of an electrician and mechanic—is the first of its kind in the state and is now considered a new trade in Wisconsin.

Two WITC programs participate in this flagship effort: the Automated Packaging Systems program and theMachine Tooling Technics program, as these two WITC programs are best represented in the work at Packaging Technology.

The opportunity to become an apprentice was opened to Bosch employees, and four stepped up. Machinist apprentices are Josh Marquand and Brant Couch. Electro mechanical technician apprentices enrolled in the Automated Packaging Systems program are Philip Taylor and Paul Petty. These four apprentices will complete their respective program over a four or five year time span, while also working at Bosch.

What makes the program unique is what the participant receives at the completion of the apprenticeship – five years for an electro-mechanical technician and four years for a machinist – an Associate’s degree in technical studies, a technical diploma and a State of Wisconsin Certificate of Apprenticeship, commonly known as a journeyman card. A traditional apprenticeship usually results in only the journeyman card.

Upon acceptance in the program, the apprentice signs a contract with the State of Wisconsin that they will meet the obligations required for a journeyman card. During the apprenticeship, Bosch is responsible for ensuring the apprentices meet the minimum requirements, as well as assigning a shop-floor trainer and mentor to each apprentice.

The apprenticeship program works very closely with Wisconsin’s Workforce Development Department through Travis Ludvigson, Bureau of Apprenticeship Standards, who produced the contract the apprentices signed. At WITC, Randy Deli, divisional dean of trade and technology, coordinates the college’s apprenticeship opportunities.

Once accepted in the program, apprentices receive a salary and benefits for their 40-hour-a-week schedule, during which they split time between on-the-job-training and classroom work. In addition, the program covers the cost for tuition and tools needed for coursework. Outside of the program, the normal curriculum requires classroom attendance for 30 hours a week, leaving little time for job training.

“This was a great opportunity for me,” says Taylor, one of the new apprentices. “It’s a perfect scenario, I get to continue working at Bosch, and in five years I’ll have a degree, diploma and journeyman card that will benefit my career and family.”

 

From northlandsnewscenter.com: “WITC receives grant to expand welding program” – Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College recently acquired a grant to bulk up its welding program.

The money is being used to buy new equipment and get students to work more quickly.

WITC in Superior was one college of 16 to receive part of a 14.9 million dollar grant that was recently awarded by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training Grant. The grant is intended to assist students entering into the welding field. WITC has already put some of the money to good use.

The grant was also used to purchase welding equipment, including a robotic welder and to expand the college’s capacity to provide short–term training to meet immediate needs of employers.
The expansion will grow the adult manufacturing career pathways program.

“What it allows us to do is block our classes, which was really actually a pretty smooth transition for the welding program because we already teach that way, where one class builds on the class before it,” said Welding Instructor Aleasha Hladilek.

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration has funded 55 percent of the career pathways project which totals just over 600–thousand dollars. The program supports dislocated workers.

“Going back to school, it’s given me a future for me and my kids, where I can go out and get a decent paying job.” said Student Jacob Hochstetler.

WITC hopes to train more than 25–hundred students during the next two years and connect them to manufacturing business.

 

From northlandsnewscenter.com: “Manufacturers revealed at WITC” – October is manufacturing awareness month which gave local businesses the perfect opportunity to show what they have to offer.

WITC hosted several businesses from around the Twin Ports.

The event gave people a better understanding of the partnership between industry and the college to educate the future work force.

WITC students have the opportunity to get hands on experience that will transfer directly to many of the careers highlighted at the event.

“Over 70 percent of high school graduates don’t want to go to a four year school but they are not sure what else to do. So our hope here tonight is to just start that process and getting the community to understand the manufacturers that are here,” said David Minor, president of the Superior and Douglas County Chamber of Commerce.

Ten businesses were at the event including Amsoil, Kestrel, and Field Logic.

 

 

From northlandsnewscenter.com: “WITC ranks 4th best two-year college in the nation” – Students at Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College in Superior have a lot to be proud of in their school.

A recent study by Washington Monthly ranks WITC the 4th best two year college nationwide, moving the university up two spots from 2010.

In 2007, Washington Monthly combined results from a nonprofit organization called the Community College Survey of Student Engagement with graduation rates published by the U.S. Department of Education to create the first-ever list of America’s best community/technical colleges. That year, WITC ranked seventh.

In 2010, updated information was compiled and WITC moved up to sixth.

This year, the list was updated with new CCSSE data ranking roughly 700 community/technical colleges nationwide in order to identify the 50 best community/technical colleges of 2013, moving WITC up to 4th place.

“The movement up in the rankings is confirmation that the College’s strategic plan and continuous improvement activities are making a difference for our students,” says WITC President Bob Meyer. “These results show how incredibly committed WITC’s entire staff is to making the students’ experience at WITC outstanding and rewarding.”

The CCSSE survey is comprised of more than 100 questions on a range of topics including teaching practices, student workload, interaction with faculty, and student support.

WITC’s highest CCSSE scores were reflected in the “Active and Collaborative Learning” category. The WITC benchmark for “Student-faculty Interaction” was also high.

 

From ashlandwi.com: “Innovative business ideas reward at tech conference” – The recent 2013 Lake Superior Business and Technology Conference – Growing Superior Ideas in the North held at the Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College in Ashland, provided an opportunity for the area’s budding entrepreneurs and want-to-be entrepreneurs to share their business ideas. Several creative and innovative business ideas were pitched. These included: a musical production light system, financial information app for investors, modular product design service, superior artesian water business, passive house certified windows and doors, process to reduce paper drying energy use, multifunctional observation tower and a veteran’s radio news brief.

Molly Lahr, Director of the Wisconsin Innovation Network of the Wisconsin Technology Council based in Madison, moderated the presentations. A panel of seven judges with expertise in business and economic development listened to the timed, two-minute business idea presentations from the contestants and then provided their critiques.

Following their critiques, the judges rated each business idea presentation on a scale from one to five. Eight business idea contest finalists were competing for $5,500 in prize money to be used to help advance their business idea. The first place prize was $2,500, second place prize was $1,500 and third place received $1,000.

In addition, a $250 prize was available to the business idea judged to be the “greenest” by a representative of the local Alliance for Sustainability. The conference attendees also had a chance to vote for their favorite business idea, with the top vote getter receiving a $250 prize.

The conference and business idea contest were sponsored and planned by the Lake Superior Region Wisconsin Innovation Network Chapter. The chapter’s goal was to help foster and encourage the development of entrepreneurial activity in an area of the state that has lagged behind economically as compared to many other areas.

The business idea contest and its prize money was intended to serve as a catalyst and incentive for persons to come up with business ideas, and provide some seed money to help them move their ideas forward.

Winning the contest’s first place $2,500 prize was the Passive House Certified Windows and Doors idea presented by Dane Gleeson from H Windows in Ashland. His company hopes to become the first such firm in the United States to manufacture these super energy efficient products. The second place $1,500 prize was awarded for The Veteran’s Radio News Brief that was presented by Mark Snow of Superior. Mark had been one of the finalists in the inaugural 2012 Business Idea Contest.

Due to a tie vote from the judges, the $1,000 third place prize was split $500 each for EKCO LLC Technology’s paper drying energy saving process presented by John Klungness and the Multifunctional Observation Tower idea developed by Mirka Nelson.

The $250 “green” business idea award was presented by Ted May from the Alliance for Sustainability to the first place winner Dane Gleeson for his Passive House Certified Windows and Doors. The audience choice $250 prize winner for the best idea was awarded to Bruce Bowers for his Musical Production Light System.

Dave Vedder, President of the Lake Superior Region Wisconsin Innovation Network Chapter, thanked the attendees and said he looked forward to next year’s conference and Business Idea Contest.

 

From madison.com: “Innovation, not controversy, defines North Woods economy” — By Tom Still, Wisconsin Technology Council - ASHLAND — C.G. Bretting Manufacturing has been bending metal on the shores of Lake Superior since 1890, but its global footprint in the paper converting industry defines the company’s 21st century approach to innovation.

Entrepreneurs such as Bruce Bowers, Mirka Nelson and Mark Snow all represent new companies — or, in some cases, no company at all — but they’re guided by the same innovative spirit that drives the big boys.

Welcome to the new North Woods, where efforts to redefine the economy involve companies large and small, as well as a broader community that understands the need to secure the region’s long-term prosperity.

For some in Wisconsin, the North Woods have become a frozen banana republic, with eco-terrorists and paramilitary guards roaming the forests of the Gogebic Iron Range within a half hour’s drive of Ashland.

For those who live there, however, those headlines are a far cry from everyday life. Although residents are divided over the mine, they’re also determined that the controversy surrounding it not become the North Woods’ defining image.

That was evident during a recent visit to Ashland, where executives at family-owned firms such as Bretting, entrepreneurs who are just starting businesses, and leaders in the political and economic development communities seem aligned in their vision for the future.

“We are all very active and passionate about making our community a better place,” read a welcome letter from nine industry, education and local government leaders to the Wisconsin Technology Council board.

That was evident at Bretting, which makes custom machines — folders, rewinders and more — for paper companies that produce napkins, tissue paper and similar consumer products. The company’s high-tech, lean manufacturing setting has enabled it to capture significant shares of the paper converting market in North America as well as globally, with

60 large paper firms counted among its customers.

Bretting’s workforce of 450 or so people has virtually no turnover outside retirements, in part because the company’s leadership stresses innovation, teamwork and customer service as a matter of course. “This is our home,” said president and chief executive officer David Bretting. “We have faith in the community and the people who live here.”

At Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College in Ashland, a different brand of innovation was on display when a small group of entrepreneurs practiced their two-minute business plan “pitches” for a panel of judges. The Entrepreneurs’ Edge event, organized by the Wisconsin Innovation Network’s Lake Superior chapter, was a precursor for the larger Lake Superior Business and Technology Conference. That day-long event will be held Aug. 9, also at Indianhead Tech.

Presenters at the pitch practice reflected a range of ideas, mostly driven by hands-on experience.

Bowers is a musician who has built a lighting prototype for theater, music and studio settings where control and information surfaces must be well lit without spillover to performing or audience areas.

Nelson wants to build a recreational and observation tower — with a possible high-tech twist — to attract tourists as well as adventuresome athletes who may want to try climbing, rappelling or zip lines.

Snow is a Marine Corps veteran and radio professional who wants to syndicate regular programming for veterans and current military personnel.

Other ideas pitched at the event involved a more energy-efficient window for homes, bottled water from Ashland’s aquifer, environmentally friendly marketing materials, custom iron artwork and the world’s thinnest wood veneers, which can be used for everything from labels to box coverings.

Not all of those ideas are destined to be the next Google, but they’re examples of Main Street entrepreneurism that can add economic value.

The Lake Superior region’s economy will likely always rest on some traditional pillars — timber, transportation, tourism and taconite (iron ore) — but technology is becoming a fifth “T” in the lineup. It is embedded in manufacturing companies such as Bretting and the ideas of entrepreneurs.

Don’t be misled by the images of protesters and armed guards: The economy in Wisconsin’s North Woods is becoming more diverse as the community works to keep its best people and ideas close to home.

 

 

From ashlandwi.com: “Business and technology conference to be held in Ashland” – Are you interested in growing businesses and creating jobs in northwest Wisconsin? If so, join the other entrepreneurs, business and community leaders and economic developers who will be attending the upcoming 2013 Lake Superior Business & Technology Conference – Growing Superior Ideas in the North on Friday, August 9 at the Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College in Ashland. Onsite registration and networking starts at 8:30 a.m., the program begins at 9 a.m. and the conference concludes at 3:30 p.m. The registration fee for the conference is $30, which includes lunch. You can register online by going to wisconsintechnologycouncil.com.

Keynote speaker Rob West, current Chief Executive Officer of GPM, Inc., an $18.8 million privately held heavy-duty pump manufacturing firm, and past President & CEO for the Area Partnership for Economic Expansion (APEX) headquartered in Duluth, Minn., will kick things off with a presentation on “How to Grow and Nurture Entrepreneurs.” Rob is a very dynamic speaker with a wealth of experience as an entrepreneur, business executive and economic developer. He’s been a company executive at marketing/advertising, home improvement product and manufacturing firms.

Rob has also taught at the University of St. Thomas and University of Minnesota-Duluth. He has an MBA from Western Michigan University and was an Officer in the United States Army.

Rob’s presentation will be followed by two back-to-back panels, the first featuring speakers who will describe how area producers are using technology to grow their agriculture business in northwest Wisconsin. The second panel will include presentations from representatives of three area firms, TACMoto, LLC, Soft Lines Inc. and Ancientwood, Ltd., who will describe how they’ve been able to make their business thrive using the Internet.

Following lunch, Molly Lahr, Director of the Wisconsin Innovation Network of the Wisconsin Technology Council, will moderate a Business Idea Contest, finalist’s presentations and critiques session. Conference attendees will have a chance to hear the top 11 Business Idea Contest finalists pitch their business ideas and compete for over $5,000 in prize money before a panel of expert judges who will rate and critique their business ideas. A range of innovative and creative business ideas will be presented. Cash prizes will be awarded to the top three-rated business idea presenters, as well as to the presenter with the “greenest” business idea and also to the presenter who receives the most votes from the conference audience.

The conference is sponsored by: the Lake Superior Region Wisconsin Innovation Network, Wisconsin Technology Council, City of Ashland, Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation, C.G. Bretting Manufacturing Company, Inc., Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College, Memorial Medical Center, Associated Bank, Superior Light & Power Company/Allette Energy, UW-Superior Small Business Development Center, Ashland Area Development Corporation, Bayfield County Economic Development Corporation, The Development Association, Twin Ports I & E Club, Area Partnership for Economic Expansion (APEX), Alliance for Sustainability, Bayfield County, UW-Extension and Northland College.

From ashlandwi.com: “Findind success after college rooted in the practical” — By Kyle Jones - We understand that college degrees are a necessity when venturing into today’s job market. Though, all degrees are not made equal. The phrase, “a college degree shows employers that you have the ability and capacity to learn,” may be obsolete in the trying times of our troubled economy. It may not be about what you can learn, but what you already know and what you can do.

The Ashland area is surrounded by institutions of higher learning such as Northland College, Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College, The University of Wisconsin-Superior and Michigan Tech University. The question is, when planning for your educational future, what schools and what fields of study are going to be the most prosperous?

Annual placement and graduate follow up reports are in for students who graduated between 2011-2012.

At Michigan Tech, of 1,220 graduates contacted, 896 responded, 662 of them have full-time employment, with students who graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree accounting for 564 of those who have full-time jobs. Now, take into account others, a total of 126 people, went on to pursue higher education and are attending a graduate school full-time.

By industry, graduates are reporting that they are finding work in manufacturing and energy/utilities/minerals, with automotive and consulting being tied for third. The lowest being the entertainment industry and contracting.

This type of focus in primary areas of work and industry is to be expected from a technological university, but how are others fairing at different institutes of higher learning?

Over at UW-Superior a total of 500 2011-2012 graduates were contacted, with 370 of them responding. UW-Superior’s numbers show that 75-percent of those contacted are employed and 20-percent are continuing their education. Some of the highest average salaries based on department come from business and economics ($42,401), Math and Computer Science ($40,654) and Natural Sciences ($34,000). Other career paths that fall into the category of arts make a considerably lower average salary – just over $20,000 in some cases.

This theme is not unique to large traditional four-year colleges. What does an associate or technical degree get you?

The Ashland campus of Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College (WITC) surveyed 187 graduates, with 164 responding, 116 are employed and 85 of them are working in fields relative to their training.

On average, graduates from the Ashland campus make $33,408, note that those with an associate degree make considerably more than those with a one-year degree or short-term training. The highest paid fields are those who work in trade and technical professions, allied health and business, with these fields all making at least the campus annual salary average.

At this moment Northland College could not submit their placement reports.

What we’re finding is that it seems, to no surprise, those students studying hard sciences or practical fields of study are graduating and going on to find financially rewarding careers compared to their colleagues who studied disciplines in liberal arts or fine arts.

UW-Superior’s data also shows that 61.3-percent of students are finding jobs in Minnesota, 54-percent in the Duluth/Superior area and 34-percent throughout Wisconsin.

Collectively, this data leads us to believe that students looking for work in the Great Lakes area should focus in areas such as manufacturing, industry, business and healthcare.

From northlandsnewscenter.com: “Tech-savvy northlanders head to annual science and technology symposium” – Tech–Savvy Northlanders are taking in some groundbreaking research in the fields of science, in Superior this week.

The University of Wisconsin Superior is playing host to the sixth annual Wisconsin Science and Technology Symposium July 21st thru the 22nd.

Attendees can learn about everything from nanotechnology, biofuels, digital tools, and the latest in medicine.

Among the participants in the symposium: Superior –based Kestrel Aircraft, who is partnering with Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College to form a composite program that equips students with the skills to build their latest line of airplanes.

“We’ve started getting some of the composites rolling right now. It’s a long process from where we start to conformity, so it helps to have people fresh out from school that have that knowledge,” said Program Build Manager Travis Maniekee, of Kestrel. “It saves us a ton of time, and a ton of money.”

WITC’s Composite Program begins its “pilot year” in the fall.

According to the college, there are still two open spots for enrollment.

From witc.edu: “WITC welcomes new administrator, Vice President of Academic Affairs” – Within her first hours on the job, Dr. Bonny Copenhaver unpacked her personality. With her office freshly painted in a relaxing but still upbeat blue, she let her collection of trinkets that have followed her throughout her career find a spot in their new home: a brightly-colored slinky, a lucky Beatles poster rough around the edges after surviving a tornado that demolished her previous office, numerous smiling photos of past staff and a poised, battle-scarred gargoyle with a broken wing dutifully nestled on the shelf. She is WITC-Superior’s new campus administrator and vice president of academic affairs and wants her space to reflect that she’s approachable for both staff and students, and she wants you to call her Bonny.

Coming to Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College-Superior earlier this spring, Copenhaver’s first impression of the area was that it was genuinely friendly.

“People talk about the south being friendly, but everyone here has been so incredibly kind and helpful, even the pizza guy,” said Copenhaver, but that impression was quickly followed by Jack Frost’s welcome of his own.  “When I came for my first interview, I intended to stay for another day, but there was 10 inches of snow predicted. I thought, ‘never mind.’”

While she might have a bit of what Northlanders may consider to be a southern accent and is from a state that’s warmer (make that a lot warmer) in the winter months, she decided to head north for the four campus district. She liked that each campus was attached to its community.

“I’m sure they fit their communities just like Superior’s campus fits here,” said Copenhaver. “I didn’t limit myself on geography. I wanted something different.”

Copenhaver comes from Lynchburg, Tenn., with her husband, Alan, and cat, Asia.  In her last position, she was provost for Motlow State Community College in charge of the academic affairs unit. She says she was known for her shoe collection there, but above all, her dedication to her students.

“My first question is always ‘how does that impact the students,’” said Copenhaver.  “I really care about the students and finding programs that help them.”

Copenhaver streamlined operations, implemented six dual admission agreements and revitalized the campus’s quality enhancement plan required by the accrediting body.  She says her biggest accomplishments were getting an emergency medical technician/paramedic program started and helping redesign the developmental studies program, similar to WITC’s student success center.

“We redesigned that program to be a self-paced program,” said Copenhaver. “It’s a competency-based program. The student only had to work on what the student didn’t know.”

At Motlow, a high percentage of students transferred on to four-year degrees. While she still roots for those who want to take their education further, Copenhaver says she’s excited about working with a population of students focused on making the most of their two-year skill sets and excelling.

“I love working with students who are non-transfer, here to get a very specific skill and then go to work, which I think is very underappreciated,” said Copenhaver. “There are really good jobs with good wages that are great places to work with this kind of education.”

WITC President Bob Meyer points out Copenhaver’s long list of past significant leadership positions.

“Bonny Copenhaver brings a wealth of previous experience and has a long track record of active community involvement that will serve her and WITC extremely well,” said Meyer.  “I am extremely excited to welcome Bonny to her new role and look forward to working with her.”

“Bonny has a strong background in developing and leading initiatives designed to improve student success at community colleges,” said Steve Bitzer, vice president of student affairs and Ashland campus administrator. “Her expertise in this area will be very valuable as we work together to improve services available to students at WITC.”

When Copenhaver started her career, her eyes weren’t on administration.  She began her career as an assistant professor of English and theatre at Northeast State Technical Community College. She had wanted to be a tenured professor, but she quickly realized she wanted to continue to take on new challenges. After hearing another former instructor’s story about moving from faculty to administration, Copenhaver got inspired to make her own move. She went on to other colleges in leadership roles before taking the provost position at Motlow State.

Holding a master’s degree in English, she added a doctorate in educational leadership. Besides those credentials, her resume is also dotted with graduate classes in theatre history and a graduate certificate in women’s studies, which she completed last year.

“I used to always tell my students who were taking general education classes that we don’t remember Rome for their technology, but for their literature, drama and for their government,” said Copenhaver. “It really is about learning something different, something new.”

She explained how welders can work in theatre creating perfect sets for a production and how people in technological careers are, at their base, an artist of their product.

“There is a connection. There always is a connection,” said Copenhaver. “I spent 25 years of life as a dancer, and one doesn’t learn any better about teamwork and how to communicate than that. It’s part of who I am. ”

While her fun office and liberal arts background show her personality on one side, she is also a big believer in managing with equality and fairness.

“People have termed it my ‘justice gene.’ We have to be just and fair. You may not like the decision, but it’s done through thought,” said Copenhaver, but added work should be a place of fun. “We are here so much, and we can have a little fun and enjoy ourselves and play a little joke now and then. We don’t have to take ourselves too seriously.”

In 2010, she was presented the Woman of Achievement Award by Women in Higher Education in Tennessee. She also has an extensive record in volunteer and leadership efforts in the community having served on several boards dealing with theatre and the arts.

While she’s only just diving into her work at WITC, she wants spend the first few months listening.

“The ideas for growth and change are always there, and then it’s my job to add a different perspective,” said Copenhaver. “I tend to create with others rather than be the person who comes up with all the ideas. You take it and you go with it, and I’m going to leave you alone and let you do what you do best. If you need help, I’m right there to help you.”

She says she can sense the staff here really cares about their students, and she says she’ll always have their best interest at heart. “If you don’t mention students in an interview, then I don’t go past that point. They are the reason we are here and why we have a job.”

Copenhaver looks forward to her time discovering the northland and making a home here and hopes to continue to grow as person here.

“I think you have to look for all the new opportunities that come your way, like ice fishing,” she said, laughing. “OK, I’m going to walk on a lake that’s really cold. Let’s give it a whirl.”

 

From thecountrytoday.com: “Thinking ahead: WITC course in Rice Lake trains the dairy industry’s next generation” — By Heidi Clausen - As he neared high school graduation and began eyeing career options a few years ago, Trevor Kodesh knew he wanted to stay on his family’s Barron County dairy farm and not spend a lot more time in a classroom.

But he also knew a college degree would better prepare him to someday take over his parents’ 300-cow farm.

Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College’s nine-month dairy herd management program in Rice Lake was the perfect fit for Kodesh, 21, who farms with his parents, Duane and Nancy, and his 25-year-old brother, Justin.

“It’s short term,” he said. “I learned a lot in a little amount of time.”

Information is power is today’s increasingly high-tech dairy industry, and the WITC dairy course arms the next generation of dairy producers with the knowledge they need to be successful into the future, according to instructor Jeffrey Johnson.

“Farmers traditionally wore all their own hats. Now, they need help,” he said, adding that producers require more “skilled help” on everything from feeding to finances.

WITC’s dairy herd management program will welcome its ninth group of students this August, Johnson said. Applications will be accepted through Aug. 16.

Trevor, a 2010 Rice Lake High School graduate, got a head start on college while still in high school, by enrolling in WITC’s youth options program in fall 2009 to study dairy herd management. He completed that coursework in spring 2011.

But he didn’t stop there; he then pursued a degree in business management.

“(The dairy program) was great for learning about the hands-on part of the farm,” he said, but “I don’t want to be an employee. … I want to be owner and manager.”

Kodesh, who received his business degree in May, said the knowledge he gained at WITC will serve him well as his family considers doubling its herd size to 600 cows within the next five years.

“It was very personalized,” he said. “The teacher works pretty much one-on-one with you quite a bit. … The program is what you make of it.”

Farmers saw need

WITC-Rice Lake’s dairy program was launched several years ago after a similar course at the New Richmond campus was discontinued.

“I think a lot of farms in the Barron County area felt there was a need to start it up again,” Johnson said. “Even as some farms are leaving and some are growing, there’s still a need for trained people on dairy farms, especially with the equipment getting more sophisticated.”

Barron County is home to more than 350 dairy farms milking a total of 25,000 cows, according to the county UW-Extension office.

Johnson said the annual class size averages 10 to 12 students. About 15 students are expected to attend this school year.

The program includes classroom lectures, guest presenters from industry and visits to farms and dairy businesses such as the AgSource milk-testing laboratory in Menomonie and the Comstock cheese factory.

“We give them a … broad spectrum,” Johnson said.

Another aspect of the course is an internship on an area dairy operation.

“We help them get placed on farms so they can … hopefully apply what we talk about in class,” said Johnson, who left a 13-year career as a practicing veterinarian to teach the course.

“I was looking for a change,” he said. “I was in the right place at the right time.”

After a couple of years of teaching part time, Johnson was asked to take over full time.

More women signing up

While the first few groups were made up almost completely of men, Johnson said, more women have signed up for the course the past couple of years. Seven of the 10 students in one recent graduating group were women.

Another recent trend is more students interested in raising dairy goats rather than cows, he said, adding that much of the information presented is the same, just on a smaller scale.

“There’s nothing out there for them, necessarily, as far as training or education in dairy goats,” he said. “Dairy farming is so capital-intense … it’s hard to go out and start something from the ground up. Goats can be done on a smaller scale and built up as they go.”

Johnson said students are coming from outside of northwestern Wisconsin for the course, from states including Pennsylvania, Michigan and Minnesota.

He said the college also is reaching out to more non-English speaking dairy farm workers.

A WITC survey last winter showed that many people working on farms who have difficulty with the English language want extra training.

Course is more flexible

More flexibility is being built into the college’s dairy program in response to the needs of prospective students.

Johnson said they’re trying to launch new efforts to help students obtain a short-term technical school diploma.

If students successfully complete a specific dairy class and a general studies class such as math, then need to leave school for whatever reason, they can still get a short-term diploma, he said.

WITC recently announced that it will offer a “bridge” to its dairy herd management program for students having difficulty meeting required entrance scores.

Students will be enrolled in the dairy program while completing additional coursework to support the program courses.

The six credits in “bridge” classes, which qualify for federal and state financial aid, will provide support in reading, math and writing skills related to program courses.

Students work with other instructors, who help them polish their math, reading and writing skills, then are admitted into the dairy program and can work toward a short-term diploma or complete the entire program, Johnson said.

They can complete the course work for the nine-month technical diploma in dairy herd management or choose to earn a certificate in one or more of the three distinct career pathway options — dairy cattle management, dairy cattle genetics and/or dairy feeding management.

Another use for the short-term diploma is if students have to leave school before course completion, he said. They can still get a diploma to take out into the workforce.

“They’re always welcome to come back and complete the program,” Johnson said.

A member of the Wisconsin Technical College System, WITC serves the educational and career needs of more than 25,000 residents in northwestern Wisconsin annually, via campuses in Rice Lake, New Richmond, Superior and Ashland.

 

From superiortelegram.com: “WITC offers free adult basic education” – Free basic education classes for adults are available at the Superior campus of Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College. This summer the Student Success Center in Room 213 is open 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesdays and Wednesdays through July 24. Fall classes will resume Aug. 19, and the Student Success Center will be open 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Mondays and Wednesdays and 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays.

Whether students want to prepare for college, earn their GED/HSED or enter the workforce with confidence, they can brush up on basic skills — reading, grammar, science, social studies, basic computer skills or math — in the Student Success Center. Most courses are self-paced with instructor assistance. Students can enroll any time.

The GED/HSED tests change Jan. 1 to a new computerized testing format. Individuals who have started, but not completed, the current written battery of GED tests, will need to finish by December or start over with the new test. Beginning Jan. 1, students will be required to follow the new computerized testing format.

For more information, call 715-394-6677, ext. 6210.

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