From htrnews.com: “LTC’s Rogers wins awards at horticulture event” — Lakeshore Technical College’s Horticulture Instructor Ray Rogers recently received several awards at the Show of Summer Horticulture event in Chicago. Rogers won three top horticulture awards, along with 12 blue ribbons for his plants, according to a press release.

Six Chicago-area garden clubs affiliated with the Garden Club of America presented the competitive flower show, Show of Summer, with the theme “Our Kind of Town” on June 21 and 22 at the Chicago Botanic Garden. One of the main purposes of the show was to educate visitors about horticulture, flower arranging and conservation. This year, participants were asked to interpret the theme “Our Kind of Town” throughout the displays. More than 100 members from dozens of GCA clubs around the country participated in the event.

All of Rogers’ plants were grown in the greenhouse on the Environmental Campus at LTC and were often incorporated into classroom instruction. Some also have been propagated as offerings at the LTC Horticulture Club’s plant sales held in late April and early May.

Rogers’ 10-year-old Deuterocohnia brevifolia, a relative of Spanish moss and pineapple, won both Best in Show and the Certificate of Excellence in Horticulture.

Rogers also produced and sowed the seeds for a hybrid Aloe. It won the Louise Agee Wrinkle Award for Propagation at the event.

From waow.com: “Wausau’s Northcentral Technical College hiring more teachers” — A central Wisconsin college is adding jobs to help students prepare for the working world.

Northcentral Technical College is looking to fill about 30 positions.

Darren Ackley, the dean of the Technical and Trades Division, said there are more jobs out there than NTC graduates can fill.

He says adding more instructors means they’ll be able to teach more students skills that are in demand.

“Our business community has been telling us that we need more welders, we need diesel technicians, we need [certified nursing assistants], we need nurses,” said Jeannie Worden, the vice president of college advancement. “We know in our IT area that we do not have enough graduates for the IT jobs that are there. Welding, we know, is the same issue.”

The leaders of NTC want to fill that need.

“We go out to our employers to find out what their hiring needs are,” Worden said.

“We definitely try to take notes from them on what we need to do and try to accommodate however we can,” said Ackley.

Part of their solution is to add about 30 new positions, including around 10 teachers.

“We’re really focusing on increasing the number of students we can accommodate here and with that, we need more instructors, so we’re definitely having an exciting time here where we’re hiring lots of people,” Ackley said.

Ackley says they’re looking for “somebody that has some occupational experience that has been out in the industry, working, that knows what they’re doing out there.”

It’s a quality students say is helpful in the classroom.

“They have worked for huge companies or they have been managers in other states here,” said Adelio Ortiz, a student from El Salvador. “They not only bring the theory of the class, they bring real experience.”

It prepares students for life after college because Ackley says they can tailor the curriculum to what the industry needs are.

To help pay for these new positions, the school received a $6 million grant from the federal government.

From thenorthwestern.com: “Jared Huss: Oshkosh should leverage its many strengths to help it succeed” — When we critique ourselves, what do we focus on? Our weaknesses, right? When we have to complete a task that we don’t necessarily enjoy, we put it off and stress out about it, right? And when we receive a performance appraisal, we tend to fixate on and attempt to improve upon our weak areas, don’t we?

Think about a time when everything was clicking for you; whether that be playing basketball and making every shot, learning a language, mastering your golf swing, helping out with your favorite charity, networking with new people, and the list goes on. Capture that moment; reflect back on what was going on around you. What kind of environment were you in that allowed that powerful feeling of success to surround you? What over-arching strength were you using to sink every shot, master that new language, or effortlessly dialogue with complete strangers? Do you spend the bulk of your time in that strength environment?

I have enjoyed the distinct privilege and pleasure of working for an organization that creates an environment just like that. Fox Valley Technical College (FVTC) is innovative when it comes to leveraging the strengths of people, and creating a culture that focuses on the growth of those strengths. At FVTC we have a very unique opportunity to live and work in our strength zone. By focusing on our strengths, we achieve more, enjoy more, and succeed more.

FVTC takes the talents of people and uses those traits to build innovative curriculum and dynamic partnerships, internally and externally. The results of this approach to employee development is directly tied to enhanced student learning and workplace training. It’s simply a trickle down; the more we all enjoy our jobs, the more success our students enjoy.

When I look at Oshkosh, I see incredible potential aligned with this type of fundamental mindset. Our community is exemplary when it comes to events, cultural attractions and history, unique waterways, strong educational institutions, and of course, aviation-related initiatives, to name a few. Those involved in leading these areas could ignite a strengths movement to make an even greater impact.

I have learned firsthand that leveraging strengths not only contributes to better results and a greater impact on people, but the concept alone builds leadership. I have been on both the receiving end and the giving end of an environment that promotes the strengths we each have. Naturally, as people learn how to turn their strengths into successes, they realize new found confidence, independence, and value in who they are as unique individuals.

As a leader, I see the best come out of our team in times of adversity. Should one of us stumble, we quickly pick them up and focus on solutions rather than blame. We break through the “ya-but” and into the “how-to.” Then, we turn the “how-to” into actions, dispatching each team member into their strength zone of the collective goal. With the right team, nothing is impossible.

As an ancient philosopher once said, “When the best leader’s work is done the people say, we did it ourselves.” This captures perfectly the culture and leadership I have experienced at FVTC. Again, on both the receiving and giving end of this, I can say firsthand how effective an environment this creates to develop leadership at all levels of the organization. This empowering atmosphere allows each individual’s strengths to be harnessed and contributed to the collective goals of the organization and community.

For Oshkosh, our community leaders and hard-working citizens are well positioned to take the next step in personal and professional development if we simply allow for more opportunities to apply their strengths. Think back to that captured moment of success, and imagine how each of us could augment one success into another success just by having the chance to showcase what we do best. Whether it be working with our hands, growing community relationships, or thinking of new and exciting opportunities, what matters is that we do what we’re best at.

Here is my leadership philosophy: Every success I’ve been fortunate to experience over the years is because of the people I work with every day. The team, organization, and community that I’m a part of is very special, and I’m fortunate each day to take on challenges and go after opportunities, side by side with them. And of course, as with any individual who enjoys success in his or her professional life, I would be remiss without recognizing how important a loving and supportive family is as well.

From gmtoday.com: “Learning to swim with the sharks” — WAUKESHA – It’s a common question asked of start-up owners: Will you go on “Shark Tank” someday?

The ABC show that puts an entrepreneur before four venture capitalists and gives them an opportunity to pitch their products to gain financing for growing or saving their businesses has gained a steadfast following among entrepreneurs and consumers alike.

While many tune in to the show for entertainment, there are lessons to be learned too, said Dan Steininger, co-founder of BizStarts Milwaukee, which works with entrepreneurs, service providers, capital connections and other resources to help launch and grow new companies.

BizStarts Milwaukee hosts investor forums, which Steininger called a friendly version of “Shark Tank.” Entrepreneurs can go before potential investors for about 15 minutes.

Steininger said “Shark Tank” educates viewers on how to get investors to fund their companies by providing insight into the typical questions an investor will ask, such as amount of sales, profit margins and money already invested in the company.

Before entrepreneurs participate in the investor forum, BizStarts Milwaukee provides training, so sometimes they are often more prepared than the contestants on “Shark Tank,” Steininger said.

Peter Rathmann incorporates episodes of “Shark Tank” and “Undercover Boss” in the Intro to Entrepreneurship class he teaches at Waukesha County Technical College. He also teaches marketing classes at WCTC and Carroll University, in addition to owning SalesTechnik, which helps Individuals, organizations and companies increase their opportunities and sales.

Rathmann said many students start the class with an idea of what they would like to do. Both the class and TV shows can help them think about creating a business structure and learning the vernacular.

The students also learn to promote their product in terms of knowing their sales, costs, how they make money, the hurdles the business has encountered, why their product is worth investing in and more.

For Intro to Entrepreneurship, the final presentation is conducted in a Shark Tank format, Rathmann said.

“It kind of gives it a simple form at the end of the day,” he said of “Shark Tank.”

Jon Anne Willow, entrepreneurship director for BizStarts Milwaukee, said entrepreneurs can learn from the strengths and weaknesses of “Shark Tank” contestants.

“When the best entrepreneurs pitch on those programs, they are prepared, they are not defensive, they are open to ideas and suggestions,” she said. “They have a strong vision for how they want their business to grow.”

When entrepreneurs pitch in front of BizStart Milwaukee’s investor forum, which consists of venture capitalists, banks and angel investors, they need to be prepared, but local investors are more apt to work with the owners. 

“It’s important to remember they want you to succeed; they want your idea to be fantastic, but it’s their money and it’s their risk,” Willow said.

Tough lessons can also be learned from TV shows, Seininger said.

“You learn you just can’t have a dream,” he said.

Unless you have real customers paying for your product, Steininger said, you don’t have a business.

One of the upsides to shows like “Shark Tank” is making business seem exciting.

“It’s about creativity and innovation,” Steininger said. “It is rewarding people for not just doing the same thing.”

Gary Bredow, host and creator of “Start Up,” a show highlighting successful businesses that often began in someone’s kitchen or garage, asks questions of the owners that provide insight about how they found success.

Bredow said the main thing he has learned from doing the show is there is no formula for success – each person has his or her own path to it. While some say a business plan was not useful, for example, others swear by it.

One constant, Bredow said, is that successful entrepreneurs need to have “drive and determination or don’t bother.”

The notion is that being self-employed means you have a lot of free time, but that’s not the case at all, he said.

“You have to be a very independent spirit,” Bredow said.

These are some lessons he learned while filming at Newaukee, Iron Horse Motel and Gouda Girls in Milwaukee in season one. He is in the process of shooting for season two, which will bring him to Madison.

While the show has been airing on PBS, Bredow said “Start Up” has been picked up by The Create Channel, which will begin to re-air episodes from season one.

Bredow said he has heard from fans of the show who have been inspired, including one person who decided to start Prohibition tours of Chicago.

Learning how to valuate a company is also an important skill and one viewers of “Shark Tank” can see work against an entrepreneur who is not well prepared.

Russ Roberts, manager of the Small Business Center at WCTC, said the show has illustrated how valuing a business can be more “art than science.”

“The most important is preparation and being ready to answer questions confidently,” Roberts said of lessons learned from entrepreneurial TV shows.

Others positive effects from watching “Shark Tank” include anticipating the questions you’ll get and being prepared to answer them. The contestants on TV  must also be able to think on their feet, to get to the point and answer the questions, Roberts said.

The investors on “Shark Tank” illustrate how many people are looking to invest in the entrepreneur and not just the product, by the comments they make and the way they determine whom they will invest with, Roberts said.

The impact of shows like “Shark Tank” is widespread.

“It’s rare that I find anyone who doesn’t know “Shark Tank,” Roberts said. “It has had impact.”

“My hope is that programs like “Shark Tank” and “Start Up” do spur interest in entrepreneurialism and do inspire people to get out there and start businesses of their own and follow their dreams,” said Willow. 

From wispolitics.com: “Instructor earns American society of Microbiology Faculty Enhancement Award” – Dan Harrigan, a lab tech assistant instructor at Blackhawk Technical College’s Monroe Campus, is one of three college instructors from across the nation to be named a Faculty Enhancement Travel Award winner by the American Society of Microbiology.

In bestowing the honor, the organization described Harrigan as a “stellar example of commitment to teaching undergraduate microbiology and biology.’’

Harrigan will receive a one-year society membership and funding to the ASM national convention for undergraduate educators from May 15th to May 18th in Danvers, Mass.

The Faculty Enhancement Program Travel Award recognizes leaders in biology education and provides them with opportunities to learn research and pedagogy developments, practice new technologies and techniques, and connect with other educators and researchers by attending ASM national convention. Awardees are educators who teach microbiology at two- or four-year institutions with large percentages of historically excluded and underrepresented students selected based on their leadership capacity, commitment to improving teaching, and dedication to participating in education and outreach programs, among other criteria.

The other two awardees are Nastassia Jones of Philander Smith College, Little Rock, Ark., and Carol Stiles, Georgia Military College, Valdosta, Ga.

Sponsored by the ASM Committee on Undergraduate Education, a committee of the ASM Education Board, ASM convention is an interactive, four-day conference where educators learn and share the latest information about microbiology and biology as well as their most effective teaching strategies. The conference program includes poster presentations and plenary, concurrent, and exhibit sessions. Participants engage in formal and informal small group discussions among colleagues who are all focused on the same goal— improving teaching and learning in the biological sciences.

From nbc15.com: “Protecting your data when selling a device” — As phones become more sophisticated, we store more and more data on them, use them for more and more tasks, and put personal information more and more at risk.

With smartphones, you’ve got probably photos, videos, your entire phone list, even credit card information stored on there. And if you don’t take the proper precautions, you become vulnerable to identity theft, fraud and blackmail.

These days folks are always trying to keep up on the latest technology; trading up for the newest and best on the market. And it’s so easy to ditch your old devices and make some green in the process. You can sell online, at places like gazelle.com, Amazon, EBay, and Craigslist. You can also sell devices in person, back to your phone carrier or at a pawn shop

But, before you fork over your phone, listen up! If you have an SD card, take it out. The same thing goes for any memory cards.

Most newer phones, like the iPhone, have a factory reset button under Settings. But, if you have an older model, you’ll want to double check your work.

“On some of the older phones, you can go in, go through and pull data it off” says Mike Massino, an Information Security instructor at Madison College.

If that leaves you a bit hesitant, you have to ask yourself: “is the value of my personal data worth more than the phone I’m trying to sell?”

Nick Koshollek, owner of Tech Heroes in Madison, says companies have taken great strides, in recent years, to help consumers protect personal information.

“We’re actually required by law to wipe all the devices and to remove all user data before we resell the devices again” says Koshollek.

Seeing personal information left on devices isn’t shocking for Koshollek. He says folks come in all the time with data still on their phone…a scammer’s dream come true

Does this mean you shouldn’t sell your old devices? No. But when in doubt, take your phone to an expert like Koshollek, before shipping it off to a new owner.

From wjfw.com: “New technology promotes teamwork at Nicolet College” – Nicolet College believes today’s workplace requires a lot of teamwork. That’s why the college introduced new technology that promotes working together.

Nicolet College has 4 of the Collaboration stations. They’re high tech projectors that show an image on a tabletop. Group members can interact with the image using a special pen. Students enjoy using the new technology.

“When we have discussions in class mainly it gives us something to work around and kind of moves our discussion towards,” says Jordan Slominski, Nicolet College IT Student. “If there’s a certain subject that we’re trying to comprehend that not every member of the group is seeing what we’re talking about these displays, these projections can kind of give us an image to kind of base our discussions off of really.”

Nicolet introduced the collaboration stations last fall. They help promote teamwork among students.

“It promotes teamwork and whole group dynamics of things because especially in information technology and in most professions today it’s not that individual working out there anymore,” says Scott Biscobing, Nicolet College IT Instructor. “You have to be able to work in a team and work with other people to solve problems and do other things and this is just one tool we can use to promote those topics.”

Each of the collaboration stations costs around $2,000.

 

From wisconsinrapidstribune.com: “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 weau.com: “Cold weather brings diesel dangers” – Semi-trucks, plows and school buses are all in danger when the temperatures drop below zero.

Mechanics say the proper fuel and care by truck drivers could save valuable time and money, especially on days when we don’t see temperatures above zero.

“The biggest thing is the filters get plugged. Once the filter’s plugged, then we run out of fuel,” Chippewa Valley Technical College diesel mechanic instructor Rusty Naylor said.

“The diesel fuel will start gelling when it gets down around 0 degrees. Anything below that, additives have to be put in to keep the fuel from getting thick,” Mid State International Trucks service manager Tom Behling said.

“Drivers in this area, what we have most problem with, is people coming from the south. They’re coming up from Florida, Texas, they fuel up in Missouri, and then when they hit here, our climates 20 below (zero), plus. They don’t think about the fuel gelling. They don’t have a problem down south,” Naylor said.

Behling said his Eau Claire shop has seen more than 100 trucks come because of cold weather problems, twice what it saw last year.

“If they can drive the truck here, they can easily get out of here for a couple hundred dollars. You get towed in; you’re probably looking at $1,000 or more because towing gets expensive.”

He along with Naylor said there are things drivers can do to avoid diesel from gelling up.

“You need a blended fuel, that will drop the temperature at which this wax will develop … Also to that you have to put additives in,” Naylor said.

“This is a trial and error time. I’m looking at tomorrow morning myself, got good fuel, blended fuel; we’ll see what happens at 25 below zero.”

Naylor said if a truck starts, but power drops while driving, that could be a sign that diesel is gelling.

From bizjournals.com: “MATC instructor sees more demand for VMware training” – By Denise Lockwood – Let’s talk about IT trends and how Milwaukee Area Technical College has designed its curriculum around those trends, specifically virtual servers and data storage and the huge need companies have in filling positions with IT types who have software certification called VMware.

MATC is aligning its IT curriculum with a number of highly sought after skills, but VMware is “the 800-pound gorilla in the middle of the room,” said Brian Kirsch, an IT networking instructor at MATC.

“VMware has revolutionized everything and it’s not going to go away any time soon,” Kirsch said. “I only see it continuing to grow.”

So what constitutes virtual servers and data storage?

Companies use virtual servers to run their data centers and reduce their server footprint. So if you’ve got a more powerful server, you can run smaller servers off one large server. And chances are good that if you work at or want to work at a company that uses virtual services and data storage, that company is probably using VMware — 60 percent of the servers in the world run on VMware.

The problem (and opportunity) is that 120,000 people are certified in VMware training and with that type of utilization, the number of people with certifications should probably be in the millions. So if you are looking for a career in the IT industry or a change in your IT emphasis, this is a good direction to take, Kirsch said.

Locally, Northwestern Mutual, Aurora Health Care and FIS are just a few companies that run VMware. New graduates who graduate with an IT network specialist associate degree and get certified in how to use the software can expect to earn $40,000. Demand is high: People with a few years of experience in VMware and certification are earning $80,000 to $100,000 a year.

The demand is so high that Kirsch, who has been teaching VMware, has seen companies pluck students from his classroom and offer them jobs before they earn the actual certificate, which is done through VMware, Kirsch said.

“I personally get to turn down one job offer a week,” Kirsch said. “And one of my students who was in my class actually had to negotiate time off with his employer to finish the class.”

A number of IT professionals, who already have degrees, are returning to take the VMware class. The class isn’t easy and the VMware certification test is difficult, which is why MATC is hoping to offer a followup in the 2014-15 school year, Kirsch said.

“We often say that our education programs are one of the best kept secrets in Milwaukee,” Kirsch said. “We’d like that to change.”

From biztimes.com: “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 htrnews.com: “Deadline approaching for LTC Top Tech nominations” — CLEVELAND — The deadline for Lakeshore Technical College’s Top Tech Award nominations is Jan. 31. The second annual awards recognize the top educators in career and technical education in Manitowoc and Sheboygan counties.

Four awards will be given to kindergarten through 12th-grade teachers, counselors or administrators who inspire innovation and work to promote career and technical education. The awards will be presented Feb. 20 at a reception at Lakeshore Culinary Institute in Sheboygan.

“This is a great opportunity for students, parents, colleagues and administrators to recognize a teacher who has made a difference in career and technical education at the high school level,” Sara Greenwood, LTC high school liaison coordinator, said in a news release. “The process is easy, and the recognition the winners receive is equally as satisfying as it is to the nominators.”

Nominees should demonstrate innovation in promotion of career and technical education, mentor and inspire students to uncover and pursue their career passions, and participate in outreach activities, according to the release.

Last year’s winners were Ron Schneider and Dave Teske from Kiel High School, representing Manitowoc County, and Ed Hughes of Sheboygan Falls High School, representing Sheboygan County.

For more information, contact Julie Mirecki at (920) 693-1193 or julie.mirecki@gotoltc.edu.

From onmilwaukee.com: “Pastry Chef Jacquy Pfeiffer: Through the eyes of an apprentice” — World renowned pastry chef Jacquey Pfeiffer, co-founder of Chicago’s French Pastry School and author of the new book “The Art of French Pastry,” has won countless accolades for his tireless pursuit of perfection in pastry.

He has also been recognized for his exceptional mentorship, which he has extended to dozens of pastry students from Wisconsin. Some, like Chef Kurt Fogle of SURG Restaurant Group, who Pfeiffer mentions by name as a star pupil, have gone on to make their own marks on the world of pastry.

On January 12, Fogle and a team of some of the city’s finest culinary talent – including Chefs Justin Carlisle of Ardent, Matt Haase of Rocket Baby Bakery, Andrew Miller of Hom Woodfired Grill and Jarvis Williams of Carnevor — will host a dinner honoring Pfeiffer. The five course dinner will serve as a celebration of his life, his work, and his new book.

The menu is being kept under wraps, but Fogle says each chef will be pulling out the stops in an effort to pay homage to Pfeiffer.

“We all work together, and we’re all a little competitive,” Fogle remarks, “So, you know everyone is bringing their A-game. There’s something–without trying to sound like too much of a weirdo — about watching five guys really going for it. To be a person in the room experiencing those dishes.”

Fogle has a particular investment in the dinner, since Pfeiffer was a key influencer in setting the direction of his career.

During his tenure with Pfeiffer, Fogle was one of very few Americans who had the privilege of taking part in the prestigious Meilleurs Ouvriers de France competition (Best Craftsmen in France), a competition captured in the documentary, “Kings of Pastry.”

NPR’s Ella Taylor remarked, “Kings of Pastry is about the craft, the teaching and learning, the collaborative work, the tedium, the heartbreak and emotional backbone it takes to make something lovely, even if that something is destined to disappear down a gullet in seconds — and even if the maker ends up a noble failure.”

“The whole damn experience was indelible,” Fogle says. “Working with Pfeiffer was two years of just having my mind blown day after day. And it was exhausting. Nothing will ever be harder than that. Nothing. I’m going to continue to challenge and push myself, but that’s the highest level.”

Working together created a professional and personal bond between the two chefs. Fogle says Pfieffer continued to be his mentor even after he left Chicago. In fact, it was Pfieffer who encouraged Fogle to move back to his home state of Wisconsin after completion of the competition.

“Since I was 15 working at O&H Danish Bakery in Racine, I had a passion for this part of the culinary world, and Pfeiffer encouraged me to come back and see where I could enhance pastry here,” he says.

He credits Pfeiffer with launching his career, as well as setting the direction for his art.

“To sum it up,” Fogle tells me, “He’s one of the best pastry chefs on the planet, and in turn I’m one of the luckiest apprentices to walk the planet.”

He went on to talk about some of the things he took away from his experience.

“I don’t want to say I didn’t learn to cook from him,” Fogle explains. “But what I really learned is how to think, how to be organized. He didn’t teach me how to bake, he taught me how to think.”

And for Fogle, part of that experience was learning that he could do anything to which he set his mind.

“One of the first things you learn from him is that anything is possible, because if it’s impossible we’re just going to create a technique or a tool or a trick to make it happen,” he tells me. “It wasn’t how to hold a spatula and fold mousse. It was the commitment and philosophical aspect I gained – learning to be tenacious and resourceful so that when I get out into the real world… when I don’t have a proofer or a sheeter– and I have an oven with hotspots hotter than Mercury — that I could still put out a great croissant.”

Fogle, who has known Pfeiffer since 2006, says he’s more than just a great teacher and pastry chef.

“He’s really really good at foozeball and ping-pong,” Fogle goes on. “Like he makes me feel bad about even playing against him.”

But, Fogle says his gentle disposition is what really makes Pfeiffer exceptional.

“In all the time I’ve known him, he’s never raised his voice,” he explains. “He’s the sort of guy who just makes you want to do things better – whether it’s pastry or what it is… he just never loses any steam. He’s ok going back and back and back and making things better and better. That’s really what rubbed off the most.”

Fogle, who teaches part-time at MATC in their culinary department, says he learned a great deal about teaching from Pfeiffer.

“I think the most important thing that I learned from him is that you have to be patient, and you have to let people struggle through it… a good example is that he was trying to teach me how to pipe something. I was struggling with holding the bag and not moving it. A couple of years later I realized I was doing it properly. But, I don’t know when it happened. He instilled in the idea that you just need to do it and do it again.”

So, when he teaches, Fogle says he always keeps that in mind.

“The fact is, I can’t talk you into being a good pastry chef, and I can’t make you into a great chef. But, I can be there for you and work with you and help you get there.”

Sounds like the sort of teacher we’d all love to have had.

From thecountrytoday.com: “Broadening opportunities: New CVTC instructors bring industry insider knowledge” — EAU CLAIRE — With a few fresh faces on its agricultural staff, Chippewa Valley Technical College is looking forward to a bright future in 2014. In the past year, the college hired three new agriculture instructors. CVTC horticulture instructor Susan Frame said the new additions bring industry knowledge that will help students excel in their fields.

“One of the advantages Chippewa Valley Technical College students have is that the instructors have been in the industry,” Frame said.

Among the new arrivals are animal science instructor Adam Zwiefelhofer, agronomy instructor Jon Wantoch and farm business instructor Maria Bendixen. All three are UW-River Falls alumnus.

Zwiefelhofer, who majored in agricultural education, hails from the Eleva-Strum area.

The former Genex breeding specialist said teaching was a natural transition, noting, “I always knew I wanted to teach.”

Wantoch, a Mondovi native, majored in agricultural studies with minors in dairy science and biology and was previously employed by Lakeland Cooperative.

The switch to teaching was an easy one, he said, adding, “Helping others fits who I am.”

Bendixen taught high school agriculture in Colby and spent a year serving as UW-Extension agriculture agent for Taylor and Marathon counties before signing on as Clark County’s agent, a position she held for seven years.

Though she worked directly with producers as an ag agent, Bendixen said she was interested in being able to work with them on a more continual basis.

“I’m excited to be able to work with farmers for an extended period of time and to be able to follow up,” she said.

Bendixen joins veteran farm business instructor Mark Denk in aiding farmers in continuing education throughout western Wisconsin.

Continuing education

Zwiefelhofer said many people don’t realize the extent of continuing education CVTC offers.

The ag programs have 80 students on campus. Another 160, mainly farmers, are enrolled in the Farm Business and Production Management program, which offers resources to improve management skills. The program features part-time instruction with topics rotating over six years, versus the typical time-intensive 32-week school year.

Students range from high schoolers (enrolled in the youth option) to farmers in their 70s, Denk said, noting the broad variety of ages and backgrounds creates a unique peer setting not found at larger educational institutions.

“There’s a lot of knowledge transfer that comes into play there,” Bendixen said. “It leads to some lively discussions — which is fortunate, because in agriculture, there’s no one right way to do things.”

Zwiefelhofer said the school has adjusted its curriculum for the ever-diversifying niches of Wisconsin agriculture.

“I think we’ve flexed with the times,” he said. “If there aren’t jobs for our students, we’re not going to be around in the future.”

Though their three main program areas are agriscience technician; landscape, plant and turf management; and farm business and production management, Denk said the instructors have helped students branch out into other topics.

“We’ve had students interested in hops, for example,” he said. “In that case we end up working with them on a more individualized basis or connect them with an industry partner, but the backbone of what they need to learn remains the same.”

That backbone is rooted in ag-focused marketing, sales, equipment and facility courses. From there, students can branch out into the varying tracks.

Industry partners, such as Case IH and John Deere, have been instrumental in CVTC’s ag programs, Denk said.

“I personally feel like we touch on community more than the larger universities,” Zwiefelhofer said. “The labs we do are mostly on farms or businesses in our local community.”

The college has an active biofuels program in which students grow the crops used to generate biofuels. Students can also become certified in skills such as commercial pesticide application, skid-steer operation and performing animal ultrasounds.

Two greenhouses on campus allow students to grow produce, which this year was sold in an on-campus farmers market.

“We also do hydroponics and work closely with cooperating farms and the local farming population,” Frame said.

Students also benefit from a strong internship program, Zwiefelhofer said.

“The internships they take between their first and second year are really what separate us from the larger schools,” he said. “A lot of times it leads into employment.”

Those interested in learning more about the ag programs are welcome to shadow classes.

CVTC also has a transfer agreement that allows students to carry credits into the UW system.

Denk is eager to see how the ag programs develop with the influence of the new instructors.

“We’ve got a great staff here,” he said. “We’re committed to working together for the students’ success.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

From jsonline.com: “Recipe for Milwaukees feast mixes volunteers, fellowship” — After 24 years, they really do have the Christmas Family Feast down to a science.

On Wednesday, thousands of people streamed through the Wisconsin Center to savor a free festive meal, bringing joy and cheer to the quiet downtown on Christmas Day.

There was turkey and ham, green beans and sweet potatoes, pie and ice cream.

Choirs belted out Christmas standards.

And a musician named Kevin Kennedy donned a red and white suit, put on a white beard and took his place on a seat that looked a little like a throne.

Santa Claus was in the building.

“It’s an awesome feeling,” Kennedy said. “You’ve got kids and adults and you can make them all happy.”

The Salvation Army of Milwaukee County was once again the host, with lots of local sponsors pitching in with support. There were other smaller, events around town, like at the Guest House of Milwaukee, where 86 men who stay at the shelter had a holiday party.

Volunteers are the key ingredient for the Family Feast, with more than 1,200 doing everything from seating visitors to clearing tables to handing out gifts. The volunteers included Gov. Scott Walker; his wife, Tonette; and sons Matt and Alex. The Walker family has volunteered at the event for 11 straight years.

“The last few years it has gotten bigger, which probably reflects on the economy,” Walker said, taking a brief timeout from putting pats of butter on rolls. “Talking to people here, you see not only folks in need in terms of food, you see a lot of folks in need in terms of family and fellowship. So this becomes an extended family.”

That extended family could be seen at dinner tables, complete strangers sharing meals and conversations.

Lisbeth Maturin; her husband, Miguel Moure; and their four young children were seated with Norma Anwar and her two middle-age sons.

“We wanted to do something special for the kids,” Maturin said.

Anwar said she enjoyed the food but especially enjoyed the spirit of the event.

“It brings Christmas back,” Anwar said.

Anwar’s older son, Marlon, said the event provided “a beautiful experience. This is the chance to say hello to a lot of people.”

A 3-year-old named Donovan Webb celebrated his Christmas Day birthday with his mom, Latonya, and other family and friends.

“This was a good year,” Latonya Webb said.

East siders Marilyn Kruger and Kim Morgan bumped into one another at the event. Kruger enjoyed Christmas morning, visiting her grandchildren and attending a religious service. The feast, she said, capped “a wonderful holiday season.”

Morgan said many people may be struggling through the year, but the feast serves as a way “to make the community come together.”

Back in the kitchen, the staff was busy making up parcels of food that were to be taken to shelters around the city.

Between the people who attended the feast and the food parcels, about 10,000 meals were made under the supervision of chefs Gus Kelly, a veteran of the feast, and Bob Ilk, who was volunteering at the event for the first time.

The pair taught together for years at Milwaukee Area Technical College and worked easily under great pressure in the kitchen on Christmas Day.

“Bob can take over next year and I’ll be his helper,” Kelly said.

Don Rosette, the former longtime general manager of WMCS-AM (1290), was back for another year. It was Rosette and the station who helped get the first feast off the ground in only 55 days and helped it grow through the years.

“The Salvation Army has taken the reins and it’s going well,” Rosette said. “It’s a tradition now.”

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

From thecountrytoday.com: “New direction: Madison College focusing on farm business management” — REEDSBURG — Madison College officials are revamping a nearly dormant agriculture program to focus on farm-business-management skills for beginning and established farmers.

John Alt, north region administrator for Madison College, formerly known as Madison Area Technical College, said college officials are making the transition from a combination farm-business and production-management program to focus strictly on farm-business management.

Randy Zogbaum, most recently the agriculture education director for the Wisconsin Technical College System, has been hired as the program’s instructor and coordinator.

Madison College had offered a diploma program with courses in soils, crop and livestock management, livestock nutrition, and farm records and business analysis. Alt said they heard loud and clear from farmers and advisers that what farmers really need is a program designed to help them with their business-management skills.

Zogbaum had been helping the college shape the new direction while working in his WTCS role, so when he expressed an interest in the Madison College position, Alt said Zogbaum was a perfect fit.

“(Zogbaum) has tremendous knowledge of what goes on statewide and nationally,” Alt said. “In all fairness, we recruited him. We’d be crazy not to look at a person who was this close to the whole process of developing the program. I’m looking at Randy to grow this program.”

The program has been slow to gain traction out of the gate — only three students signed up for a limited number of classes that started in November — but officials hope to build interest in sign-ups for another round of classes in January and have full classes in the fall of 2014.

The 2014 classes will start in mid-January and run for about six weeks each. A second group will start in late February and run until early April. All classes will meet for two hours, once per week.

A similar schedule will take shape again in the fall of 2014.

Classes will be held at the Green Technology Training and Enterprise Center in Plain. Alt said he is hopeful that as interest in the program grows, similar classes will be held at other locations within the 12-county Madison College district.

Madison College officials solicited the advice of farmers and financial institution representatives in shaping their new curriculum.

“We all know that farms don’t fail because farmers aren’t working hard, they fail because they’re not good at managing a business,” Zogbaum said. “From the education side it’s not a favorite topic all the time. But our goal is to help them be the best business people they can be.”

The courses offered by Madison College will lead students down the path of developing a business plan for their farm business. Students will then learn methods for using the plan to evaluate their farm’s financial viability and assist in decision making.

Alt said students can take each course sequentially or individual courses depending on their experience and knowledge of operating a farm business.

“Farming is a complicated business,” Zogbaum said. “If you don’t know your cost of production all the way through you really can’t tell if you’re making money. That’s the goal of the courses we set up — to work through it in a way that makes sense for the farmer.”

Alt said farmers have told them they don’t need a diploma or a certificate but instead need just-in-time training to help them manage their farms. Farmers or people interested in starting a farming operation can take the courses they need to help their individual situations.

“The nice thing is it’s easily customizable,” Alt said. “The courses we’re developing are applicable to all sorts of things. This is a new direction for the college.”

Zogbaum will also be developing a fee-for-service program that will allow farmers to receive one-on-one instruction.

Zogbaum said within the structure of the old farm-business and production-management program, if a student needed just one course and left the program, that hurt the statistics that kept the program viable.

“In the new program, if you choose to come in and get a business plan in the business planning course and we never see you again, that would be unfortunate, because we’d like to have you back, but you still get a good value out of that class,” Zogbaum said. “Either way, it doesn’t hurt the program and it helps the student.”

Zogbaum was born and raised in Madison but grew up working on a dairy farm in Richland County and a beef and pork farm in Rock County. His father’s family is from the Lone Rock area, so he said his “heart and soul are right here in this area.”

“I was real excited to have the opportunity to get back in the classroom,” he said. “I had some great colleagues in the system office and I’ll miss each and every one of them. But this opportunity is just too good to pass up.”

Zogbaum worked at the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection as a soil and water quality specialist and as a Columbia County Extension agriculture agent before taking the WTCS agriculture director position in 2008.

Each six-week course will cost about $240, and in many cases, scholarship or grant funds are available to cover some of the costs, Alt said.

Zogbaum said he could envision a farmer taking a course every year to help build a strong financial base.

“It would be a great opportunity to sit down with 15 or 20 other farmers and an instructor and look at your balance sheet year after year,” he said. “Why not use the class as a time to close out your books for the year?”

The last full-time employee in Madison College’s old agriculture program retired this year, so Alt said it was important to maintain the position and head the program in a viable direction.

“It’s going to appeal to a lot of people,” he said of the revamped program. “We have lease space at the Green Technology Center in Plain, so that’s where we’re starting, but I can see it spreading very quickly to other parts of the district. I think it has huge potential.”

 

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 wrn.com: “Safer vehicles offset higher speed limit” — It’s not legal to drive 70 miles an hour, as the bill awaits Senate approval. The state Assembly has already given the green light to a 70 mph speed limit, but its fate is uncertain in the Senate as opponents lobby against the measure.

Brian Landers is a traffic law and traffic crash investigation instructor at Madison College. He doesn’t see a problem with the higher posted limit, saying surrounding states have equal or higher speed limits. ”I don’t think that the increase of 5 mph is going to see any large increase in fatal crashes in Wisconsin. I think that that’s easily offset not only through the advancements in technology in vehicles, but also through the education and enforcement of law enforcement.”

Landers points to higher vehicle safety standards, including better seat-belts, blind spot monitoring, air bags, breaking systems, and other improvements, as contributing factors in a reduction of fatal crashes nationally and statewide.

Green Bay-based Schneider National — the nation’s largest trucking company — has safety and fuel efficiency concerns. Landers says 70 is a maximum speed; it’s not mandatory. ”Depending upon your driving habits, and depending upon the road conditions and the weather conditions … you know, no one is forcing you to go 70 mph. So, if Schneider National or if any motorist out there feels like 65 is their safe limit, then they can still do 65 miles an hour.”

The bill’s author — state Representative Paul Tittl (R-Manitowoc) — says many motorists are already driving faster than the current 65 mph limit and it makes sense that the legal speed is adjusted accordingly.

Landers says whether a motorist is driving 10 miles an hour or 70, he needs to be sober, buckle up, and practice safe driving skills, which means regardless of the legal speed limit, a driver must slow down if conditions warrant.

 

From wisconsinrapidstribune.com: “State leaders encourage students to consider manufacturing jobs” — GRAND RAPIDS — State and local leaders are encouraging students across Wisconsin to consider manufacturing jobs when planning their academic future.

As a major part of the state’s workforce, manufacturing jobs play a key role in growing the economy, Gov. Scott Walker told students today as part of the Heart of Wisconsin Chamber of Commerce’s Heavy Metal Bus Tour, which gave dozens of south Wood County middle and high school students the chance to tour local manufacturing plants and hear about the industry.

“I’d love to have it in every community, connected with every technical college and employers in every part of the state of Wisconsin, just because it’s a great opportunity to open the eyes of not only students, but really of parents, of guidance counselors and others to see there are great careers — not just jobs — but great careers in manufacturing,” Walker said during a lunchtime stop at Mid-State Technical College’s Wisconsin Rapids campus. “Getting these kids interested early on is key to this.”

The local event coincided with October Manufacturing Month in Wisconsin, which is designed to spur job creation through the promotion of manufacturing as a career. Nearly 75 seventh- through 10th-graders from across south Wood County participated in the bus tour, which took them to Domtar Corp., Corenso North America, Tweet Garot Mechanical and Mariani Packing Co., said Melissa Reichert, president of the Wisconsin Rapids-based chamber.

“They’re learning all kinds of things about the great careers that are here in central Wisconsin,” Reichert said. “These are good-paying jobs that average over $52,000 a year, and these companies are hiring.”

Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch, Department of Workforce Development Secretary Reggie Newson, state Sen. Julie Lassa, D-Stevens Point, and state Rep. Scott Krug, R-Rome, also participated in today’s event.

The state should financially support programs that make technical education more affordable and expose students to the importance of manufacturing — through hands-on learning and other activities — at an earlier age, Krug said.

“We’re looking to close that financial gap (and) make sure it’s accessible to everybody,” he said. “Whether you’re Republican or Democrat, those programs are important … (in) helping local employers fill those jobs they have open right now. It’s a no-lose situation, and it’s a small investment for the state to make.”

On a more local level, Mid-State Technical College continues to work with local employers and other agencies to help address the so-called “skills gap” — the difference between the qualifications company leaders are looking for and the skills potential workers possess, MSTC President Sue Budjac said.

“When we talk to employers in manufacturing, what they’re telling us is that in the very near future, they’re going to have retirements on a massive scale, and they are going to need skilled and qualified workers to fill in behind those retirees that are going to be leaving their industry,” Budjac said. “We are adjusting our curriculum — the content and our courses — in ways so that we make sure that we’re responsive and delivering the skill set that they need.”

Such local efforts — one of two programs in the state and three rural sites nationwide — can serve as a model for other parts of the state as a successful partnership between private-sector employers and post-secondary education and training institutions in order to help spur workforce development that meets employers’ needs, Walker said.

“The more frequent (the) communication, the more partnership there is, the more shared accountability there is; employers will step up and put money and time and resources and equipment, in many cases, behind technical colleges that are responding to the needs that they have with the jobs they have right now as well as those in the future.”

From ibmadison.com: “Who cares about online privacy?” — The holidays are coming, and that means millions of consumers will hunt for gifts online. Courtesy of the National Security Agency spying controversy, the 2013 holiday season will feature an added twist of uncertainty about Web privacy, and don’t think retailers aren’t worried about it.

Consumers are another story, according to Steve Noll, a marketing-social media professor in the School of Business and Applied Arts at Madison College. His background is in advertising and marketing sales, and he’s not convinced that consumers are bent out of shape about online privacy. He notes that we’re living in an age where consumers are okay with Facebook selling their information to advertisers but freak out about the notion of subscription-based online business models, which would offer more privacy.

With the National Retail Federation forecasting solid holiday sales, IB discussed online privacy with Noll.

IB: It’s been several months since the NSA controversy erupted. What’s your sense of how alarmed the public is about online privacy?

Steve Noll

Noll: I’ve always felt that online privacy is something that most people are aware of, but the reality is most people actually don’t do much about it. Most people who use things like Facebook, if you go onto their site, they have not taken steps to secure their site against people who are not friends being able to have access to it. So it seems to me that every few months, some story comes out about online privacy, and it gets everybody hyped up, but then not a lot of people really do much about it. They think about it for a few months and they kind of forget about it until the next incident, and then they get all stirred up about it. It’s kind of like this recurring cycle of nothing.

Obviously, this NSA story was much bigger than the typical identity theft report that usually triggers these types of conversations, but by the time the Christmas shopping season gets here, people are not going to be considering that anymore. The whole NSA issue, among general consumers, is going to fade into the background. I don’t see this changing people’s online shopping behavior.

IB: Do you sense a high level of urgency among online merchants, especially since a lack of trust in data security could substantially curtail online shopping?

Noll: I’m sure they are worried about it because anybody would worry about anything that potentially could hurt them. If you look at how online retailing works, there is so much security in there already. This is the question that I ask in one of my classes: Who here does not shop online? At least one person raises their hand. And then I ask why don’t you shop online? And he says, ‘Well, I don’t trust it. I don’t trust my information getting out there.’ I follow that question up with, ‘Do you shop at the mall?’ He says, ‘Of course I do, that’s where I have to get all my stuff.’

And the reality is, when you go to a mall and you give somebody your credit card, and even if they scan the card into a cash register and give it back to you, they have still have the opportunity to kind of glance at that card and potentially memorize that information and quickly write it down as soon as you’re done with that transaction. That is infinitely more risky than going on Amazon, where it’s secured computers talking on an encrypted network. The people who are kind of afraid of it — I don’t think they understand how it actually works and how there are so many other things out there that are infinitely riskier that they have an actual comfort level with.

Some of the big companies like Amazon, it would not surprise me to see in some of their marketing campaigns that they emphasize that they are in a secure environment, but I think the general public does not understand what ‘secure’ means. You know when you have these little padlock symbols on your computer? A lot of people don’t know about those. I’d say about 50% of the people don’t even know to look for that to know they are on a secured website, or even looking at the http line. If it’s got the https, that means it’s a secured server. There are so many things that people are just kind of clueless about in terms of security. I don’t think they even realize that if companies spend money upping their security level even higher than it is, I don’t think that would affect people anyway. I think maybe saying shop at our secured site, just saying that in a copy line, would be the most impactful thing to do.

IB: Can more savvy online consumers take proactive steps to protect themselves before the holiday shopping season gets in full swing, or do the merchants basically do that for them, as you suggest?

Noll: One of the things, obviously, is looking for things, looking for the padlock, checking to make sure that you are on a secured server. So those are probably the two easiest things, especially the padlock. Just double-checking when you go on, especially if it’s an e-commerce website you’re not familiar with. If it’s not an Amazon or an eBay, making sure that they are acknowledging they are making this transaction securely. That would be the number one thing that people need to be aware of, is just the general, simple clues when you’re online that say you’re on a secure shopping site.

IB: Is there any promising technology or “app” that consumers can use to remain in control of the personal data that merchants have on them — if they have any qualms about how it’s used or shared?

Noll: Here’s the thing with apps. We’re starting to see some third-party apps that people are promoting as something that can be used for more security, but there have also been some stories that some of these companies are scams, that they are using people’s paranoia about the recent news stories to almost scam people to download their app and run it and we will make sure your data is secure. What they are actually doing is they are collecting information from people and using it maliciously. I would caution people against downloading or using some new technology from a company you never head of just because it promises you security.

Something like this security scare, which has gotten people so emotional, is exactly what con artists will prey on. That emotional freak-out is the recipe con artists look for to take advantage of people. Certainly, if you are using an app from Amazon and Amazon says we have this new version of an app and you can update this app for added security, well then you would definitely want to do that. If you’re going out to find something, I would do some research on the company before you pay them or use them. It’s just ripe for scams.

From leadertelegram.com: “Pepper, Purvis named Fuerstenberg Award winners” — Julie Pepper touched the life of a student who came to Chippewa Valley Technical College through a job retraining program after a career crisis.

That student appreciated Pepper enough to nominate her for CVTC’s top award for teachers. Mary Purvis, meanwhile, was nominated by an entire class of students who were impressed by her dedication and passion to teaching.

When the 2013-14 school term started at CVTC with instructor in-service sessions last week, Pepper and Purvis were named the winners of the 2013 Roy and Jan Fuerstenberg Teaching Excellence Awards.

The awards, given annually, recognize instructors for their professionalism, excellence in teaching and learning, and their positive student-teacher relationships. Faculty members are nominated for the prestigious award by their students, and those honored receive a cash honorarium of $1,500.

Pepper, a Medical Assistant program instructor, has been with CVTC since 2002, and was with Mayo Health Systems previously.

“Being treated with respect triggered a desire to not let my teacher down,” Maria Creer, who nominated Pepper, wrote. “Anyone can recite some material and test you on it. Only real teachers go out of their way to get back to you with a timely response, make themselves available to students at almost any time, answer your questions, and explain why you got things wrong.”

Pepper said she strives to help students discover how to find success, both academically and personally.

“We know that students come to our institution from all walks of life, and not every student comes with the confidence necessary to meet the rigors of all of our courses,” Pepper said. “By giving the students the tools necessary for solid problem-solving, they can achieve early success that will have an immediate effect on their confidence.”

One of Pepper’s former students, Julie Miller, recalled how Pepper helped her through a difficult time when she had a major medical procedure on the first day of school.

“My classmates and I really felt like we had someone in our corner when it came to having Julie as an instructor,” Miller wrote in nominating Pepper. “She made herself very approachable and accessible to all of us with office hours, as well as extra time from her own personal schedule.”

Student Deb Bresser also praised Pepper.

“At some educational institutions, a student is just a number, but at CVTC you are treated as a real person, and in Julie’s classes, we become a family,” Bresser wrote.

Physical and Life Science Instructor Mary Purvis has been at CVTC since 2004 and was honored in 2010 as the Wisconsin Association of Community and Technical Education Teacher of the Year. As a Menomonie High School teacher from 1983-94, she was named a 1990 state finalist for the Presidential Award for Excellence in Science and Mathematics Teaching.

In nominating Purvis, her students mentioned her expertise and energy.

“Mary always has a positive attitude (along with her quirky energy) and makes each student feel welcomed and important. Her passion and excitement for her subject expertise, along with her slew of hands-on activities, helps make the material easier to grasp and solidifies the information. She also unfailingly relates the information to the real world,” a statement by students in her Physics 2 class reads.

Purvis said she works to prompt her students to ask questions.

“We human beings are naturally curious. As children we were always asking ‘why?’ We are filled with wonder about everything around us,” Purvis said. “My goal as a teacher is to open my students’ minds to again allow them to ask these questions, and to share the joy and wonder of the natural world in a fun and engaging way.”

Cherrie Bergandi, dean of General Education and Business at CVTC, noted how Purvis’ students tend to cluster around her desk before class begins, peppering her with questions and excited about the lesson.

“Mary is the science teacher I wish I had in high school and college,” Bergandi said.

Fuerstenberg Teaching Excellence Awards are made through CVTC Foundation, Inc., which enhances the mission and vision of CVTC by securing resources for student scholarships, staff initiatives, technology investments and other purposes. The award is named after Jan Fuerstenberg, a lifelong educator, and Roy Fuerstenberg, incoming president of CVTC Foundation Board of Directors.

 

From pricecountydaily.com: “Internet marketing expert to speak at Phillips Chamber of Commerce annual dinner” — John Carlson, marketing expert and instructor for Business & Industry Division of Northcentral Technical College’s Wausau campus, will be the featured speaker at the Phillips Area Chamber of Commerce Annual Dinner on Sunday, Aug. 25 at Club 13. Carlson will focus on small business marketing strategies with an emphasis on Internet marketing through the use of social media. Carlson’s appearance is being sponsored by the Phillips campus of Northcentral Technical College. Area Dean Bobbi Damrow will also speak to attendees about the college’s expansion and the opportunities and facilities that will be available to area businesses.

The Chamber will also honor 2013 Persons of the Year, the late Judi Boers and her husband, Tom, and Chris and Ron Kedziera of The Crazy Loon as 2013 Business of the Year.

All Chamber members are welcome to attend. Reservations are required by August 21. Call the Chamber at 715-339-4100 or email PACC@pctcnet.net.

In other Chamber news, planning for the 2013 Annual Fall Harvest Festival on Saturday, Sept. 28 is underway. Prospective crafters and area organizations have been sent their applications to participate in the craft fair and Fall Taste of Phillips. Music will be provided by the Elk River String Bank and the Jim Pekol Polka Band, and other activities will be held. If you’d like to participate in the craft fair and didn’t receive an invitation, please contact the Chamber.

From todaystmj4.com: “Today’s TMJ4 goes inside elite arson investigator training” — WAUKESHA – It happens time and time again right here in southeast Wisconsin.  Intentionally set fires destroying homes and businesses, putting firefighters in danger and neighborhoods at risk.

TODAY’S TMJ4’s cameras were invited for an exclusive look at an elite training program for arson investigators. Instructors carefully, deliberately set multiple fires in an old Hartford farmhouse before students arrived, turning it into a hands-on classroom.

“It’s a two-week, National Fire Academy course, a very prestigious course,” said Brian Dorow, Dean of Criminal Justice at Waukesha County Technical College.  “What we’re setting is seven different crime scenes.  The students come through during the course.  They have to determine the motive, the origin.”

This is all done under the careful supervision of the Hartford Fire and Rescue Department.  Chief Paul Stephens had a message for those who see arson as a way out.

“It puts firefighters’ lives at risk,” Stephens said.  “It puts citizens at risk and fire kills people.”

We first met the students as they watched a demonstration at the technical college campus.  A living room scene had been set up inside a garage. The students watched the instructor spray a trail of lighter fluid along the floor, up to a couch cushion.

The instructor started the fire with a single match.  It took less than two minutes for the fire to rage.

“We can talk about it through PowerPoint and lecture,” the instructor said.  “We can show video of it.  But, we want the students to be able come out and actually see how it evolves.”

Back at the old farmhouse, the students put that classroom arson training to the test. Instructors posed as witnesses, like the fire chief and the homeowner. One of the instructors is Wisconsin State Fire Marshal Michael Rindt.

“Every fire is a challenging scene,” Rindt said.  “We try not to make these scenes as challenging as you’d see in the real world because we want these to be a learning experience for them.”

There are seven different fire mysteries within this house.  Some are set up as accidental fires and others as arson fires.  Students take their notes back to the classroom and try to determine the cause.

Students will take these skills back to their communities, better equipped to catch the criminals who start fires.  The students are firefighters, sheriff’s deputies and police officers.

“I don’t know if we have a shortage of adequately trained fire investigators, but it certainly is a profession where you need to have continued training,” Rindt said.

WCTC said every one of the students passed the course and that the students correctly solved each of the seven mock cases.

The college did not allow TODAY’S TMJ4 to interview the students because of their active roles in law enforcement.

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