April 4, 2013
From nbc26.com: “FVTC Culinary Theater officially opens” – GRAND CHUTE — The new Culinary Theater at Fox Valley Technical College in Grand Chute is officially open.
The college held a ribbon cutting ceremony tonight for the new state of the art facility. The 8500-square-foot space features panoramic vantage points for cooking demos and food preparation narrations.
Culinary Arts Department Chair Chef Jeff Igel says, “This is awesome. Having this facility puts us as a cutting edge culinary program, it’s a wonderful facility to teach in. It’s like going to teach in Disneyland.”
The new theater allows 120 people to see the demos clearly and highlights the latest in high-teach kitchen equipment.
July 16, 2012
From wxow.com: “Nursing student saves drowning child” – After just one semester of nursing courses at Western Technical College, Megan Barbian figured she was at least a year and a half away from saving lives. However, that all changed Wednesday night, when a 20-month-old girl was pulled from the water at Pettibone Beach.
“When I started she had no pulse, no respirations, she was really really pale, her lips were a blackish purple color,” Barbian said.
Lifeguards were not on duty at the time and Megan was the only one on the beach who knew CPR.
“The little girl reminded me so much of my niece, and I was like ok, this is her, ” Barbian said. “You need to do, what you need to do to save her. Did it cross my mind that yeah she might not make it? Yeah, and I was scared. But I started compressions, and after a few minutes she took her first breath. And I was like, we’re getting somewhere.”
The child’s family wishes to remain anonymous, but did contact Western to tell them about Megan’s heroic actions.
“To me, Megan is an angel,” the girl’s grandmother said. “I mean, my granddaughter wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for Megan. And I hope she’ll always be part of our family. It’s just remarkable that a stranger can do that.”
Gundersen Lutheran also took notice of Megan’s actions and offered her a job as a pediatric nurse when she finishes school.
“Just thank you, from the bottom of my heart Megan,” the grandmother said. “My family thanks you. You are going to be the best nurse in the world. And words cannot express how grateful we are.”
The child is now home and her family says she’s back to her normal self.
Both Megan and the girl’s grandmother say the incident highlights the importance of knowing CPR.
July 16, 2012
From fox11online.com: “Fox Valley colleges team up for aviation” – OSHKOSH – Through UW-Oshkosh, Fox Valley Technical College aviation graduates like Kodye Shier now have the opportunity to fly higher in their careers.
“First time I ever saw a plane I was bit by the aviation bug,” said Shier who is now an intern flight instructor at FVTC.
Starting this fall, Shier and other technical school graduates will be able to take an online aviation management program through UW Oshkosh.
“It is so convenient the fact that I can be working, building my hours and still be able to go to school at the same time,” said Shier
“The four-year program opens up more doors and it gives the graduates a leadership background so they can move up and advance in their companies and become the next generation of leaders in aviation,” said Jared Huss, an aeronautics instructor at FVTC.
With most of the hands on work done at the technical college level, instructors say it works for the new program to be done online.
“Our graduates really find themselves all over the world and that’s the nice thing about this offering is while they are out there in the industry working, gaining experience and providing for their families, they are able to continue their education 100% online from anywhere in the world,” said Huss.
The offering might be taking off at just the right time. An industry forecast shows nearly 500,000 pilots will be needed through the year 2030 worldwide.
“We’re at the front end right now that spike is forecast to start this year to next year,” said Huss.
While FVTC aviation graduates could fill those jobs immediately, the new UW-Oshkosh program has potential to open better opportunities.
“The best jobs are for commercial airlines and commercial airlines will not even look at a candidate until they have a bachelor’s degree,” said Sarah Smith, the outreach program manager at UW-Oshkosh.
It is partly the reason Shier is on board.
“I don’t want to sell myself short and close a door when I can just open more doors,” said Shier.
The program is the first of its kind in Wisconsin.
July 16, 2012
From JSOnline.com: “Do Wisconsin high schools pass the career test?” – A wide-ranging group of lawmakers, business leaders and educators begins work Monday to answer a central question: Does Wisconsin’s education system do enough to develop the career skills of high-schoolers?
Rep. Paul Farrow (R-Pewaukee) launched the group, officially known as the Special Committee on Improving Educational Opportunities in High School, to focus on opportunities offered to high-schoolers entering a challenging economy. Its first meeting is Monday in Madison.
“Right now, I want to get the conversation going,” he said.
The committee will look into three areas relating to high school education:
Current options available to high school students for ca reer and technical education and postsecondary enrollment, including the Youth Options program, which allows certain high school juniors and seniors to take college classes and also receive high school credit.
How those options compare with other states.
Ways that high schools, technical colleges, universities and employers can work together to meet the state’s workforce needs.
Committee member Mark Tyler said he would like to see the committee highlight the best practices already existing in the state.
“Because people don’t know about these opportunities, they expect that they are not there, and that’s just not the case,” said Tyler, a University of Wisconsin System regent and president of the Wisconsin Technical College System Board.
New London schools Superintendent Bill Fitzpatrick is already making changes at New London High School, which is in the process of shifting to a new model in which students are grouped into academies focused on particular career groups.
The change isn’t aimed at forcing students to make career choices early, but to put academic studies into a more real-world context.
Fitzpatrick said he is looking forward to the group’s discussion and said it is time to think futuristically about education.
“It’s time that we go back and take a look at a system that was set up for another time,” Fitzpatrick said.
Sen. Luther Olsen (R-Ripon), chair of the committee, and Farrow circulated a letter to the other members in advance of Monday’s meeting asking them to consider what issues are the most important in determining whether high school graduates have the skill sets to make their next steps.
“Just asking those questions is really important,” said committee member Bill Hughes, director of leadership development at Schools That Can Milwaukee, a nonprofit geared toward networking schools and improving school quality in impoverished areas.
Hughes, former superintendent of the Greendale School District, said he is optimistic about what the committee can accomplish, particularly because of the people involved. He said the members are a good mix of rural, urban and suburban voices. More important, Hughes said, the members will bring a reform perspective, rather than just trying to work around the edges of the system.
“At least we’re going to hear different perspectives,” Hughes said.
Hughes said he is interested in finding out how many students return to technical colleges after getting a four-year degree. The committee should look for ways to help those students get the right skills earlier so they don’t have to go back to school, he said.
On the agenda for Monday’s meeting are speakers from the state Department of Workforce Development, Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce and ManpowerGroup. Tim Sullivan, special consultant for business and workforce development to Gov. Scott Walker, will also speak.
More needs to be done to build stronger connections between schools and employers, said Suzanne Kelley, a committee member and president of the Waukesha County Business Alliance.
Kelley hopes to bring an employer perspective to the committee. She said the needs of employers, particularly in manufacturing, have evolved, noting the industry has become more high-tech. Kelley is hopeful the committee can work to find ways to reintroduce technical arts classes into high schools.
Helping more students earn college credit while in high school is an area UW-Waukesha Dean Harry Muir said he would like the committee to consider.
“It’s like having a scholarship, if you think about it,” Muir said.
He said colleges and universities should collaborate with the K-12 system to help students discover their interests earlier, perhaps even shifting some general education and liberal arts classes into high school.
About the committee
The Special Committee on Improving Educational Opportunities in High School is one of seven study committees taking on issues during the period between legislative sessions. Early in 2012, the staff of the Joint Legislative Council asks legislators to submit topics for possible study. Once the ideas are collected, the co-chairs of the Joint Legislative Council – currently Sen. Mary Lazich (R- New Berlin) and Rep. Joan Ballweg (R-Markesan) – select topics to study.
July 12, 2012
From Reedsburg Times-Press: “MATC’s Reedsburg expansion impresses” — A stamp, the Titanic and Gladys.
Addressing about 80 people Monday during the unveiling of the new expansion at the Reedsburg branch of Madison Area Technical College, State Sen. Dale Schultz told the audience to think of those three things.
While it seemed a somewhat odd analogy to MATC’s 100th year of existence, Schultz, R-Richland Center, certainly had the crowd’s attention.
“In 1912, people literally put in their two cents because that’s how much a stamp cost,” Schultz said. “Today, people are paying more for a stamp, but they’re still putting in their two cents at the ballot box.
“I’m proud of (the people of) this community and others like it who passed the referendum to grant MATC the funds for these renovations. The community is giving back by investing what we know will pay back dividends to help create jobs.”
Schultz was referring to the successful passage of MATC’s $133.8 building referendum in November 2010, of which $2.4 million went to fund the 16,000-square-foot expansion and renovation of the Reedsburg campus.
His comparison to the shared anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic was an illustration of people doing the right thing, even when it was believed to be negligent behavior from the ship’s captain and crew.
“Back in 1912, people put a lot less thought into preparations,” Schultz said. “If they would have been more prepared for evacuation, many more lives would have been saved. In MATC’s case, the renovations are a plan for the future.”
Finally, Schultz’s admonition to MATC officials was taken from Gladys Hardy, an 88-year-old Texas native who frequently calls into “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” to share her hilarious opinions.
“Gladys always ends her phone calls with Ellen by saying, ‘keep on keeping on,’” Schultz said. “We all know these times aren’t easy, but I know better times are ahead. MATC of Reedsburg is leading the way.”
The guests for the unveiling and ribbon-cutting Monday included students, staff members, MATC trustees and executives, and local, county and state officials.
It was as though Gladys’ words were a focal point throughout the planning of the Reedsburg campus expansion. The advances in teaching technology have, at minimum, “kept keeping on” with the use of state-of-the-art teleconferencing that provides more resources and more courses that might not otherwise have been available at the Reedsburg campus.
The star of all of the technological advancements is the “telepresence” room that fundamentally changes the traditional classroom setting.
“Through the telepresence room, the whole Madison College can become a resource to students here in Reedsburg,” said project architect Dave Cameron, of Cameron Aslaksen Architects LLC in Reedsburg. “This can help with programming and scheduling.”
The telepresence room brings dramatic changes to teaching. The instructor sits in the gallery, along with the students, and is teleconferenced to the Reedsburg campus on three large screens. Students can view the entire lecture room of the other campus, hear the questions those students ask and clearly see who is asking the question.
For the open house Monday, developmental mathematics teacher Julie Steiner was in Portage, being teleconferenced to Reedsburg as a demonstration of the technology.
“Summer classes are pretty small,” Steiner said during the demonstration. “This gives us the opportunity to increase enrollment of these small classes. It’s especially nice for courses they can’t offer at the regional campuses because the (low) enrollment wouldn’t allow it.
“Students really get to know each other from other campuses (via telepresence). It’s so interesting to see how they develop relationships.”
Cameron said the same technology is used in smaller rooms for remote tutoring and counseling from Madison and other campuses for students in Reedsburg.
“We were some of the first to explore the idea of telepresence,” said MATC executive director of economic and workforce development John Alt. “But we called it ‘distance education.’
“We weren’t going to be able to grow our enrollment simply by being standalone campuses. So we started to collaborate. We took advantage of every technology that was out there. We’ve now added 30 new sections of courses,” Alt said.
“We’ve tried to be as innovative as possible in order to provide a wide diversity of courses to people in the area,” MATC operational director Scott Beard said. “The Portage campus has 25 percent greater enrollment than it did last fall, simply because we added two science classrooms and a small telepresence room.”
Along with the boost in technology came a new thrust to increase energy efficiency with the design.
The increases came partially in the form of energy-saving lighting, an increased use of natural lighting during daylight hours, water-conserving bathroom fixtures and energy-conserving, high-velocity blowers to replace paper towels for use in hand drying.
Cameron said that while the building design did not strive for a certification in Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED), the design strives to follow LEED standards by being as “green” (environmentally compatible) as possible. Some of the LEED requirements include using recycled construction materials and energy-efficient appliances.
“We exceeded the LEED requirements,” Cameron said. “If you want to get LEED certified, a certain amount of money goes to professional services and the certification process itself.
“We want to be designed as a LEED Silver certification, but we really don’t have to have that plaque on the wall and go through all the calculation,” Cameron added. “Now, we’re able to reallocate the funding that would have gone to that red-tape process to purchase more efficient building materials.
“At MATC, there’s an advantage to being LEED certified, because you’re setting a community example,” Cameron said.
Cameron said the expansion wing was built with future growth in mind, hopefully saving more construction dollars down the road.
“There is glazing you can pop out and extend the corridor,” Cameron said. “You can add four more classrooms without adding any new corridors.”
Cameron said there had been a wish list for classrooms that would incorporate massage therapy or sleep disorder programs. However, he said, those had to be placed on a wish list for the future.
“Every square inch (of the building expansion) was carefully designed to maximize the learning experience of our students and the return on investment for our area taxpayers,” MATC Provost Terrance Webb said. “It is a new century of promise that excites us the most.
“The new construction here at Reedsburg — and eight other projects that are part of our smart future building plans — will enable us to provide our students with the tools and advance training that 21st century employers seek.”
State Assemblyman Ed Brooks, R-Reedsburg, said: “John (Alt) shows the pride of a new parent and the community shares that with you, John. Make sure as we go down the road, it isn’t one-size-fits-all.”
Reedsburg Mayor Dave Estes, once an MATC student, said he was “absolutely amazed” at the changes and technology on display.
“We’re all very proud of this campus,” Estes said. “The future of the Reedsburg area shines brighter with the partnership that’s been built with Madison College.”
June 19, 2012
From greenbaypressgazette.com: “Teens, Green Bay police get chance to connect” – Dylan Mancoske’s close friend died in a drunken-driving crash earlier this year.
While coping with the tragedy, the 16-year-old Denmark High School student decided he wanted to one day become a patrol officer.
“After that incident, it really got me to thinking how I could help somehow,” he said of the death of Luke Watzka, also 16, who registered a 0.249 percent blood-alcohol content after the minivan he was driving overturned March 24 on Rosecrans Road in New Denmark.
“I don’t want that to happen to other teenagers,” Mancoske said.
He was one of 26 teens who recently took part in a weeklong series of activities as part of the Green Bay Police Department’s 12th annual teen police academy, which gives participants an insider’s look at several law enforcement careers to dispel myths and builds relationships with young people.
Previously, the program only accepted teens from Green Bay high schools, but this year partnered with several agencies to recruit teens interested in policing across Brown County.
“For high school kids who are thinking about going into a career in law enforcement, we’re trying to give them a little taste of what that would be like,” Green Bay police crime prevention officer Dave Schmitz said. “We want to make that connection with teens so they feel comfortable connecting to law enforcement.”
School resource officers informed many students about the academy, which required all participants be in good academic standing.
Students were treated to presentations from Green Bay SWAT team and K-9 officers, probation agents and others. Participants also completed an obstacle course and went to a gun range. This year’s program was bolstered by a $1,825 grant from the Crime Prevention Foundation of Brown County, which supports initiatives focused on teens and other at-risk groups.
“The academy works to open doors for them,” Schmitz added.
Law enforcement jobs
Nationwide, police and detective jobs are projected to grow by 7 percent from 2010 to 2020, which is slower than average for all jobs, according to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Agencies are increasingly looking for bilingual applicants and those with a bachelor’s degree or military experience.
Following those projections, more people are graduating with law enforcement degrees at Northeast Wisconsin Technical College in Green Bay.
The number of graduates with two-year law enforcement degrees increased from 62 in 2009 to 100 in 2011, a 61 percent jump. During that span, more graduates also completed a two-year degree program to work at jails or prisons, and the college’s 13-week law enforcement academy.
Chris Madson, public safety training manager at Northeast Wisconsin Technical College, said a growing number of officers retiring statewide has opened up opportunities in law enforcement. Graduates learn about firearms, defensive tactics, traffic accident investigations and the law.
“The need is out there. Every day there is new technology and new challenges and you have to step in and address those right away before you fall behind,” he said.
Students who pass the law enforcement academy become certified to become an officer in the state. About half of those students say that they have wanted to be officers since childhood, Madson said.
A good fit?
Teenagers considering policing careers should have no criminal record. Even too many traffic violations can hurt an applicant’s chances of being hired, he said.
“The little things that they don’t think of how it will affect them five years down the line does affect them.”
Andy Lundin, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources conservation warden, spoke to the teen academy and said some people do not know wardens have arresting powers.
“People may not understand that conservation wardens get involved in a lot more than hunting and fishing,” he said, noting cases that involve weapons, drugs or alcohol. “The goal is to give these kids a clear understanding of law enforcement and all the different areas and fields.”
Teens who participate in the program also received a tour of the maximum-security Green Bay Correctional Institution in Allouez, which included a walk through the prison cafeteria.
Kaitlin Nimmer, 17, who is going to be a senior at Green Bay Preble High School, said she expected the prison would be more raucous.
“I thought people would be shouting,” she said, but found there wasn’t much noise. Kaitlin, one of five girls in the program, said she was impressed by the K-9 presentation, which revealed how a dog could be trained to detect drugs.
“It’s really interesting to see how smart a dog can be,” she said. “The program gives you an actual idea of what law enforcement is compared to TV shows.”
Mancoske, one of the participants in Green Bay’s teen police academy, said he plans to study law enforcement in college after graduating high school.
“The academy just made me want to be a cop even more,” he said.
June 12, 2012
From lacrossetribune.com: “La Crosse high school grads heading into health care” – Logan and Central high school graduates hope to make it in medicine now that they’re done with high school.
Health care careers were the most coveted by 2012 La Crosse School District graduates, according to a district survey.
High school graduation is often only the first step on the long road to medical work, but many La Crosse students plan to embark on the journey. Fifty-eight of the district’s 334 graduates marked “health science” as their eventual career, outnumbering students who selected any other option on the survey, including “undecided.”
“I think the kids are smart,” said Annette O’Hern, director of the district’s Health Science Academy. “They see that our society is aging. It’s got to be a pretty secure job.”
This is not the first time La Crosse district students favored health sciences careers over the alternatives.
The field was also a favorite of 2011 and 2010 graduates. In three years, the district produced more than 150 students set on medicine.
It’s such a popular pick, the district opened the Health Science Academy three years ago to give future nurses, doctors and lab technicians a place to learn the ropes.
Work variety, job security and the proximity of two local hospitals help make health sciences so popular with students, O’Hern said.
Admission to the district’s academy is competitive, and about 20 applicants for next year’s classes will be turned away, O’Hern said.
Those who make it in — 54 juniors and seniors for next year — spend the first three hours of each school day at the Health Science Center, taking classes on subjects such as medical terminology, medical technology and health occupations.
Students can job shadow, tour medical facilities and earn college credit because of partnerships with Mayo Clinic Health System in La Crosse, Gundersen Lutheran, Viterbo University, University of Wisconsin-La Crosse and Western Technical College.
“The kids really get out and get a hands-on feel for the environment,” O’Hern said.
Least popular careers listed on the 2012 graduate survey included architecture and construction, finance, and hospitality and tourism.
In addition to health sciences, students gravitated to careers in engineering and communications. About 16 percent are still undecided, though 79 percent of all of the district’s graduates plan to attend either a university or technical college.
School resources like the Health Science Academy help students take the next step, O’Hern said.
“We need to really take a look at helping students make educated decisions now, as they’re going forward in their careers,” she said. “It’s not just about graduating high school.”
From voiceofwr.com: “Annual MSTC College Camp scheduled for June 12″ – Central Wisconsin students entering grades sixth through eighth are gearing up for camp twenty12, a hands-on opportunity to explore the careers and crucial skills of tomorrow. Mid-State Technical College’s (MSTC) annual college camp presents each attendee with the opportunity to participate in three of the following career exploration sessions: Biorefinery, Business & Marketing, Clinical Research Coordinator, Corrections and Law Enforcement, Electrical Power Engineering, Emergency Medical Services and Junior Fire Fighting, Machine Tool, Multi-Media, Nursing Assistant, Urban Forestry, and Welding.
MSTC Enrollment Advisor Betsy Feaster says the June 12 daytime camp filled to capacity quickly this year.
“It is encouraging to hear that so many students recognize the importance of fully exploring their education and career options well before the moment of decision,” said Feaster in a press release.
The primary goal of MSTC’s annual College Camp is to broaden a young person’s perspective of career possibilities through on-site, hands-on, and fun career discovery. The popular camp’s $30 registration fee includes all three sessions, snacks, lunch, camp gift, and bus transportation.
Those individuals interested in participating in next year’s event, as well as those individuals who desire more information and a tour this summer, should call Betsy Feaster at 715-422-5413.
Transportation is available to camp twenty12 at no extra cost from the following sites: MSTC – Adams County Center in Adams-Friendship; The Store in Auburndale; MSTC – Marshfield Campus in Marshfield; Riverside Park in Nekoosa; 5 Star Lanes in Plover; Christian Life Fellowship in Port Edwards; St. Philip’s Church in Rudolph; MSTC – Stevens Point Campus in Stevens Point and Community Park in Vesper.
MSTC, one of 16 colleges in the Wisconsin Technical College System, is a leading provider of higher education offering about 50 career opportunities through associate degrees, technical diplomas and certificates. Student-focused and community-based, MSTC serves a resident population of approximately 165,000 in central Wisconsin. The College has campuses in Marshfield, Stevens Point and Wisconsin Rapids, and a learning center in Adams. Visit the College’s website at mstc.edu.
From wisconsinrapidstribune.com: “Column: Mobile Apps Certificate another advance in learning” — By Sue Budjac, president Mid-State Technical College – Dictionary.com describes technology as the branch of knowledge that deals with the creation and use of technical means and their interrelation with life, society and the environment. Technical education as a whole is no different. We aim to impart a hands-on delivery of knowledge to our students that gives them the tools they need to be successful in work and life.
The Mobile Application Development Advanced Technical Certificate is one example of cutting-edge curriculum designed to meet evolving technology needs in business and industry. This certificate, approved in April and starting this fall, allows anyone with an associate degree or bachelor’s degree in software development to gain certification in mobile device development. This three-class, 10-credit certificate can be completed in just two semesters. Graduates will have the knowledge and skills needed to develop applications in the native language of mobile devices.
Like all MSTC program and class additions, this certificate is designed to meet an identified local workforce need. A local employer survey and discussions with individuals in the industry indicated a shortage of qualified workers. In fact, several local businesses expressed an urgent need to hire software developers with training in mobile application development. MSTC responded, and our Mobile Application Development Advanced Technical Certificate will help satisfy this need for skilled workers.
This certificate is also an example of high-demand jobs that didn’t exist 10 years ago. Much has changed at MSTC in those 10 years, both in the programs and classes we offer and in the manner we deliver education to our students. For example, MSTC’s flexible online learning lets students enroll in our 17-week online business classes with a new section starting each month giving students more flexibility in when they start their classes.
The need for additional flexibility led to the implementation of a live video feed called TelePresence. This technology creates real-time interaction between Adams, Marshfield, Stevens Point and Wisconsin Rapids students and instructors as if all were in the same classroom. We are also in the very early stages of cloud data management and computing that one day might extend to the entire college.
A growing number of people are turning to MSTC to acquire high-tech curriculum and degrees like the mobile apps certificate they need for employment in highly skilled jobs. New technology infrastructure, instruction delivery tools and technological advancements in course delivery benefit MSTC students as a whole.
For more information about the Mobile Apps Advanced Technical Certificate or our growing selection of online courses, call 888-575-6782 or log on to http://www.mstc.edu.
From wjfw.com: “Manufacturers Looking To Hire, Local Technical Colleges Hope To Prepare Students” — Rhinelander – If you’re out of work, it’s tough finding a job.
A job search is a job in itself.
However, business leaders say one type of company is hiring – manufacturers.
The problem is many companies can’t find qualified workers to fill the jobs. The Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce Foundation is hosting listening sessions at local technical colleges throughout Wisconsin.
The foundation is hoping to spread the word about exciting careers in manufacturing across Wisconsin.
“In my job hunts I kept seeing welding, welding, welding,” Nicolet student David Hansen says. “So I said ‘hey, I’m going to school for welding.”
Hansen just completed Nicolet College’s Welding program. He wants to find a job with the chance to move up.
“Start off with welding,” Hansen says. “It’s got a great starting wage compared to other jobs. From the sounds of it, in talking with other people who are further along in their career you can move up fairly quickly in welding.”
Jim Morgan is the president of the Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce foundation. He’s encouraged by comments like Hansen’s.
“A lot of those offerings are right here at the technical colleges,” Morgan says. “I think we really owe it to those 16-year-olds to make sure they understand all of the occupations that are available so if they want to be a welder, be a CNC operator. First of all they have to know those occupations exist, and secondly they need to know where to go to get those skills.”
Morgan says there’s a level of ignorance when it comes to manufacturing.
“We haven’t told the story very well,” Morgan explains. “Unless we actually get people in there to see what’s going on, they have a vision of manufacturing that’s probably 40 or 45 years old. These are high-tech companies, they’re clean, well lit, they’re good jobs, they’re exciting, you do different things everyday”
That’s why Warren Krause’s welding class at Nicolet teaches students more than just welding skills.
“In industry now-a-days, they’re looking for people with soft skills,” Krause says. “Being able to just weld in this day and age isn’t good enough. They want people to be able to communicate with customers. Be able to learn new technology, be able to take on tasks.”
And Morgan agrees many manufacturers are optimistic about future growth.
“This generation more than any other is the expectation is the whole package. You’ve got to have the work ethic, you’ve got to be able to communicate with people, you have to have the technical skill, you really have to have everything.”
Thanks to his training, Hansen says he’s confident he has it.
“I’m very confident I’m going to get a job. It’s going to happen.”
June 1, 2012
From wsau.com: “Grant will boost solar panel training at MSTC” – Mid-State Technical College has won a state grant that will help train construction electrician apprentices on the latest in solar panel technology.
The $8,000 grant is part of $638,000 being doled out through the state’s Sector Alliance for the Green Economy or SAGE project. The grants help give apprentices training in green energy skills that will make them competitive in the workforce, said SAGE outreach coordinator Owen Smith.
Half of the grant money went to Associated Builders and Contractors of Wisconsin, which identified Mid-State as one of the schools it works with.
The grant money will also help train apprentices how to weld new sustainable materials. Skilled welders, in particular, have been in demand throughout the manufacturing sector, including manufacturers of solar panels and wind turbine structures.
May 30, 2012
From ashlandcurrent.com: ”Workforce Corner: “Building Bridges and Life Skills” – Summer is finally here in the northland! And, with this season comes employment opportunities for regional youth. The Crex Meadows Youth Conservation Camp, located in Grantsburg, Wis., is a very unique summer option for eligible teens from northwest Wisconsin. Over the past five years, applications for camp have steadily increased. This year, camp received its highest number of applications ever—125 applications for 76 available openings. Nearly every school within the ten county region the camp serves will be represented.
Campers work with the DNR on a variety of projects at the 30,000-acre Crex Meadows Wildlife Area and Governor Knowles State Forest and are paid for their labor, which is an unusual feature for a summer camp and holds great interest for campers. In the past, campers have removed invasive plant species, performed native seed collection, built bridges to increase trail accessibility, and assisted in the entire Canadian Geese banding process.
“Last year, there was a severe wind storm in Grantsburg. The campers during one of the sessions worked on post-storm clean up, which was a great experience because the campers got to work and be involved in the community and with the community members,” said Suzannah Crandall, camp director.
In addition to their work with the DNR, campers participate in a hands-on science and life-skill based curriculum. Some of the science activities have included plant and animal identification, radio telemetry and triangulation, and analyzing and examining water samples. Local school districts support the camp by rewarding the campers with science or elective credit that can be used towards high school graduation. A distinctive aspect of the camp curriculum is that it is delivered by people from different organizations, allowing campers to be exposed to a diverse wealth of knowledge.
“The life-skill based curriculum is a tremendous learning opportunity,” said Crandall. “This year one of the topics we will discuss is career development. The class will involve looking at the skills and education you need for specific jobs, the process of applying for jobs, and how to prepare a resume and cover letter. Part of this lesson will also be on social media and how others perceive you based on your personal profiles.”
Some of the organizations participating in this summer’s upcoming activities are: Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College (WITC), Crex Meadows Education Staff, and DNR Interns. WITC staff will be involved in the career development activity and will be performing career assessments. Crex Meadows Education Staff aid in supervising campers during their conservation projects while working alongside them and leading lessons and other team building activities. DNR Interns share information about the projects they are currently working on.
Campers don’t just work and study, however. There is also plenty of fun and recreation including swimming, sports, trust and teambuilding activities, campfire games, storytelling, movies, canoeing, and hiking. The camp is a partnership between CEP, Inc., the Northwest Wisconsin Workforce Investment Board, Inc., and the federal Workforce Investment Act.
May 22, 2012
From antigodailyjournal.com: “Wood tech program caps first year” – Northcentral Technical College is wrapping up a successful first year for its wood technology programs, which are based out of the state-of-the-art Wood Technology Center of Excellence on the Antigo campus.
The program’s advisory committee recently convened and reported that it was very pleased with the progress of the program and reaffirmed its direction, specifically citing a 100 percent student retention rate and noting how that spoke directly to students’ interest in the program.
“NTC is committed to supporting the wood products industry in north central Wisconsin,” Larry Kind, dean of NTC’s Antigo campus, said. “The response from both our students and industry leaders has been overwhelmingly positive in our first year of operation. We’re excited to continue serving the community by providing our students with the skills needed to succeed in this important field.”
According to Kind, several business leaders also noted that they were anxious to hire students from NTC’s wood programs when they graduate a year from now. In fact, a number of students have already been offered summer jobs within the industry due in large part to their unique skill sets.
The Wood Technology Center of Excellence, which opened in 2011, provides training in wood manufacturing technology, innovation and commerce to program students and incumbent wood technology workers.
NTC Antigo offers a wood processes associate degree, a wood technology technical diploma and a basic wood manufacturing certificate. Included in the programs is coursework that develops skills and specialized knowledge required for the manufacturing, marketing, distribution and end use of wood products.
Students work on state-of-the-art computerized wood manufacturing equipment, including CNC routers, CNC moulders and optimizing saws, while also learning about lumber grading, buying and merchandising.
The wood programs offered at the NTC Wood Technology Center of Excellence are unique to the Wisconsin Technical College System and are not offered anywhere else in the state. Wisconsin is the top state in the nation for wood-related jobs, while the Langlade County region is one of the worldwide leaders in forest products manufacturing.
NTC Antigo is now accepting applications to its wood programs for the fall of 2012. For more information on NTC’s wood programs or to apply, contact Kimmie Kretz, Enrollment Advisor, at 715 623-7601, Ext. 7308.
From postcrescent.com: “Fox Valley manufacturers face uphill battle to find workers” – GRAND CHUTE — If 10 highly skilled machinists were to walk into Pinnacle Machine today, co-owner Don Miller would hire them all on the spot.
“There’s just a tremendous amount of work out there,” said Miller, who also manages the plant that produces components used in power generation and water purification.
The plant, which employs 32 people, needs more workers to grow, but Miller — along with other manufacturers — says the Fox Valley lacks workers with the right skills to perform the job.
Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce, the state’s largest business advocacy organization, and manufacturers like Miller say the problem must be addressed now to meet today’s needs and keep the state competitive in the future.
Luring a younger generation of workers into manufacturing will take some convincing that good careers are available, said Jim Morgan, president of the Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce Foundation, who was the keynote speaker Monday at Fox Valley Technical College. He discussed findings from about 50 listening sessions on current and future workforce needs with more than 300 manufacturers around the state.
Morgan said the consensus among manufacturers is orders are picking up, but expansion is hindered by a lack of available workers with the skills to operate computer-assisted equipment. The existing workforce also is aging and fewer people are pursuing manufacturing careers.
Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce estimates that 70 percent of all the available jobs in Wisconsin do not require a four-year degree. Younger generations, however, are taught not to pursue skilled-trade careers and are encouraged to attend college.
Plant closures and layoffs in the Fox Cities in recent years, including those by consumer products giant Kimberly-Clark Corp. and papermaker NewPage Corp., also hurt manufacturing’s perception in the community.
“Today’s young generation may have been touched by someone in their family being laid off,” Miller said. “The respect and trust in manufacturing may not be there today like it was when I got into it.”
But manufacturers acknowledge outreach initiatives targeted at youths to spark their interest in manufacturing at an early age have been lacking.
“We aren’t telling our story,” Morgan said. “We need to change the perception of what manufacturing is like today.”
In October, Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce will roll out a public awareness campaign to highlight manufacturing’s importance to the state.
“We recognize that we have to open people’s minds to our profession,” Morgan said.
Miller said though the starting salary for an entry-level machinist at his company ranges between $12 and $14 per hour, a highly skilled Class A machinist could earn “in the neighborhood of $70,000.”
But he said many workers perceive a job at a plant as less glamorous than an office or executive-level job.
“I’ve offered jobs to people who work in a fast-food restaurant and they stayed in that job because they didn’t want to work in a shop,” Miller said.
Susan May, president of Fox Valley Technical College, said the college offers numerous programs, including Girl Tech and a high-mileage vehicle competition, to introduce youth to the skilled trades.
“We’ve been working on this issue for the past 10 years,” she said. “And we recognize that more needs to be done.”
May 18, 2012
From htrnews.com: “Manufacturing must toot own horn” — MANITOWOC — Jacob Bergene, 18, didn’t need convincing.
“I get to learn something new every day,” the Lincoln High School senior said Wednesday as he operated a multi-spindle screw machine at LDI Industries.
After graduation in June, Bergene intends to complete an 8,000-hour adult apprenticeship on his way to becoming a journeyman machinist.
By the time he’s 22, he can expect to be making about $15 an hour, with more pay and advancement opportunities ahead, and he will have been drawing a paycheck while spending nine days on the job and one day in a Lakeshore Technical College classroom every two weeks.
The owners of the Manitowoc company making lubrication equipment and hydraulic components feed their talent pipeline through participation in Youth Options and other initiatives designed to attract young men and women into skilled manufacturing trades.
But too many Wisconsin manufacturers aren’t fighting misperceptions and stereotypes, Jim Morgan, president of the Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce Foundation, on Wednesday told an LTC audience of business owners, educators and civic officials.
Combined with other factors, Morgan said manufacturers not touting the good-paying careers they offer has led to a “work force paradox” including:
» 7 percent unemployment, yet manufacturers can’t find employees to do the work needed to fill customers’ orders.
» A trillion dollars in student loan debt, yet so many unemployable.
» Negative attitude toward manufacturing, yet it drives the Wisconsin economy.
» A great need to communicate, yet educators have never been in manufacturing plants, and manufacturers have never reached out to schools.
Morgan crisscrossed the state this past winter to conduct listening sessions in more than 50 communities with 300 Wisconsin manufacturers to better understand the problems employers were dealing with in trying to find qualified workers.
LDI Industries expects Bergene and other workers on first shift to be ready to start setting up and running the sophisticated technology in the plant at 6 a.m. — not just be onsite and talking for 10 or 15 minutes before beginning to make components for its national client base.
Morgan said having unemployment benefits extend out as far as 99 weeks has led to some workers offered jobs declaring, “Can you wait six months … I have 26 weeks of unemployment left?”
Combat the stigma
Morgan said Working Wisconsin is the WMC Foundation’s blueprint for helping the state retain its competitiveness and high quality of life.
Morgan said it is critical to battle the stigma — often of high school students’ parents — against those “with only a two-year degree.
“This is not an anti four-year-college presentation, but let’s make sure students are making an informed decision … know about technical colleges and the jobs and careers they can lead to,” said Morgan.
He lamented that technical skill opportunities are disappearing from some high schools, though LTC has formed a partnership with Plymouth High School leading to new manufacturing simulation classrooms and a tripling of students enrolled in “Tech Ed.”
“The mismatch between preparation and careers is wide,” Morgan said. “Only 30 percent of Wisconsin’s jobs require a bachelor’s degree or more.”
Morgan’s “Circle of Life” includes workforce development leading to economic development leading to a greater tax base leading to strong K-12 schools leading to enhanced technical training.
Working Wisconsin includes several elements, such as identifying exemplary business-education partnerships, launching a public awareness campaign to highlight manufacturing’s importance with companies offering tours and making presentations to schools, colleges and clubs.
“It has to be a strategic imperative, driven by ownership,” said Eric Haban, LDI’s Youth Apprenticeships coordinator.
Haban knows he has the support of Mark, John and Tom Lukas, LDI’s owners.
Mark Lukas, president of the firm, said the company has added about 30 employees in the past year, up to about 250, and has made commitments in the areas of technology acquisitions, lean-manufacturing education and bringing on board individuals, like Bergene, who see a long-term future in the industrial sector.
May 15, 2012
From wisconsinrapidstribune.com: “IT professional helps MSTC students” – Robert W. Van Dyke, Bull’s Eye Credit Union’s IT manager, works with Mid-State Technical College students as interns in order to complete their degrees.
Bull’s Eye Credit Union believes in giving back to the community. Dave Stark supports Van Dyke with his desire to help students. Stark agrees this is important to help young adults to succeed.
Anyone from MSTC or any student wishing to get into the IT field can visit Van Dyke’s office and ask anything they want about IT careers. They can see if Bull’s Eye has any openings for IT interns. Bull’s Eye takes one intern at a time for 72 hours.
Van Dyke has a bachelor’s degree in computer science and is Cisco network engineering certified. He got a two-year degree from MSTC in CIS-networking before earning his bachelor’s degree. He has worked at Bull’s Eye for almost eight years. He has served in the U.S. Air Force for 10 years active duty as an aerospace technologist.
May 14, 2012
From steventspointjournal.com: “Technical college graduates face bright job future” – Anthony Nedbal is bullish on his economic future.
He’ll receive his associate degree in information technology computer networking from Northcentral Technical College on May 19. As of July 1, the 20-year-old from Woodruff will be a computer network engineer earning $41,500 a year at Lakeland Union, the high school he graduated from in 2010.
Nedbal graduated from high school in the midst of the recession, and he’s graduating from NTC during a sluggish recovery, but he never really thought he would have trouble finding a job.
“It’s one of the reasons I went to NTC,” he said. “I was pretty confident.”
The employment numbers of technical college graduates across the state back up Nebal’s optimism. Among the 18,036 responders who filled out a post-graduation survey, 88 percent of the 2011 graduates from the Wisconsin Technical College System found jobs within six months of graduation. Most, 71 percent, were employed directly in their fields.
NTC reported similar results: 89 percent of 1,113 graduates surveyed were employed. When factoring in students who continued their education by transferring to a four-year college, the number jumps to more than 90 percent.
“This is great news for our graduates and great economic news for Wisconsin,” said Dan Clancy, president of the Wisconsin Technical College System. “Our graduates are finding success and contributing to the economic recovery in our state.”
The average salary for all new NTC graduates is $33,307, the school reports.
NTC is producing graduates that fit well with the needs of employers, said Suzi Mathias, director of transfer and placement at NTC.
“We try our very best to connect (students) with the skills that are needed in the industry,” she said.
For Nedbal, it all makes for a good start in life. He plans to stay in the Woodruff area for a while, building experience and saving money. Then he might think about moving into an administrative level in his field.
“I’ll be fiscally ready, have a few years of experience, and a high standing to go out with experience,” he said.
From biztimes.com: “Students need ‘reality check’ about jobs – Manufacturing, and manufacturing careers, have been getting quite a bit of coverage lately.
Employers have made desperate pleas for skilled workers. There is a heightened awareness of the value manufacturing brings to a community. And, there is a growing, albeit slowly, recognition of the innovation and intelligence that goes into today’s manufacturing jobs. Governor Walker has launched his College and Career Readiness Council and the President and his Education Secretary have also been extolling the virtues of college and career readiness.
That is all good. Manufacturing is critical to the future success of Wisconsin. Not only for the 425,000 employed in the sector, but for the hundreds of thousands that exist because of manufacturing. No other sector has the job multiplier effect that manufacturing does.
But let’s not let old paradigms drive our future needs for a qualified workforce.
We know that about 30 percent of the jobs in Wisconsin will require a bachelor’s degree or more. That means 70 percent do not, with the vast majority of those requiring technical education beyond high school. What seems to be missing in the current system is a broad understanding by today’s students of the jobs available. They simply cannot select an occupation that they don’t know exists. They do not know what a welder does; they do not know what a CNC Operator is; they have never seen the inside of a modern day, advanced manufacturing facility; and they do not have accurate job data and salary information. The same applies to their parents. And all of us (business, educators, parents, media) should share that blame.
The WMC Foundation recently conducted more than 50 listening sessions with over 300 manufacturers from around Wisconsin. Since completing that road trip, we have been sharing what we heard. One thing that became clear is that we need to change the definition of “success.” As a parent, you want your children to be healthy and happy, doing something they love, and able to live comfortably. Isn’t that most people’s definition of success? This is America, and everyone should be encouraged to pursue their passion. However, we owe students a reality check and perhaps even a “Job Probability Index” – what are the odds they will find a job in their chosen field. We should discuss the passion they wish to pursue, provide information on what it will take to reach it, explore the costs involved, evaluate the job prospects upon completion, study the level of demand for their degree/career, look at salary expectations and consider the return on investment.
If every 16-year-old, and their parents, have all this information and a full understanding of (and open mind to) all the occupations available, we will work through this shortage. Currently though, our definition of success seems driven by a mentality that master’s degree is better than bachelor’s degree, bachelor’s degree is better than technical degree, and technical degree is better than work experience. The workplace is not that linear and easily defined. Right now, there are shortages of engineers, welders, CNC operators, machinists, masons. Some of those require work experience, some apprenticeships, some technical degrees, some 4-year degrees or more. Let’s make sure everyone knows the market, because the market will drive us to success.
As we focus on “college and career readiness,” we might want to put “career” first.
From wrn.com: “Uptick in starting salary of tech college grads” – A new report shows new technical college graduates are making more money than their counterparts the prior year. The Wisconsin Technical College System’s annual follow up survey shows median salary for all graduates starting their careers is $31,822 ($31,198 the year prior) with those earning associate degrees receiving a median salary of $36,033 ($35,616 for 2010 grads).
System President Dan Clancy says their research also shows 88 percent are working within six months of graduation. Most of them–71 percent–work directly in their field of study. Clancy says these figures are about the same as last year, a positive sign given a down economy.
Clancy credits advisory committees, made up from people in the industry, that help guide students while in their programs.
From wiscnews.com: “SUGAR RUSH: A Portage resident is a finalist for the American Culinary Federation’s Pastry Chef of the Year” – The cake came out of the oven with an obvious problem.
A crater had formed along the moon-like surface, putting a large dent in the masterpiece.
So like any young chef, Julia Julian fixed the problem with a ton of frosting to even out the top — creating a lake of sugary sweetness.
“There was nothing wrong with the flavor,” her mother Jackie said. “We would eat anything that was made.”
Julian was only 7 when she made her mom the birthday cake. But cooking wasn’t a passion yet.
“She was more into (raising) golden retrievers than cooking,” Jackie said.
But in a home where everything was made from scratch, the environment to learn about cooking and baking was ideal.
Almost two decades later, Julian is one of four chefs competing for the American Culinary Federation’s National Pastry Chef of the Year.
The Portage resident, who teaches at Madison College, won a regional competition April 14 in Detroit, creating a golden pineapple rum cake with passion fruit and mango sherbet.
“I didn’t expect to win. I wanted to go and experience what it would be like,” she said while taking a break from the college kitchens.
From her beginnings as a student at the college, Julian has made everything from a simple chocolate chip cookie to a 3-foot chocolate skyscraper.
But at nationals, competitors often focus on sugar work — blown sugar that becomes sweet art with a theme.
“The skill level can be very even, but (a contest) all comes down to who has the better game,” she said.
While she can create the type of desserts you see in pictures or on carts in fine restaurants, Julian still has simple sugar cravings like the rest of us.
“I tell my students, ‘I’m a baking instructor now, but I still eat a gas station doughnut,’” she said. “You’re not going to be blacklisted for stopping.”
Once a month during home schooling, Julian’s mother would pick a day for her kids to make something in the kitchen.
Home economics led to showing at the Columbia County Fair through 4-H.
But when Julian decided to go to college to study culinary arts, the idea was a bit of a surprise to her family. They knew, however, she always gives everything she has to succeed.
Julian picked a $40,000 a year school in Chicago and was accepted, paying the enrollment fees in advance.
But the realization of going to the school soon clicked.
“You can graduate with the fancy degree, but the reality of it, which most people don’t realize … you’ll be a line cook or a pastry chef for about nine or 10 dollars and hour, if you’re lucky,” the 25-year-old said.
So Julian decided to look closer to home.
“After meeting with instructors (at Madison College), that really changed my mind,” she said. “And I’m glad I went here.”
Julian wanted to be a chef who focused on elegant dishes, but a two-year wait list in the culinary program delayed that plan. She found herself on the baking side for the first year — eventually completing the culinary side, as well.
A quiet student early on in the program, Julian said she was never the one to be first to present in class.
“When I first had interest in the culinary program, or even the baking program, I wasn’t the one who said, ‘I’m going to be a line cook. I’m going to make this a career.’ I just loved baking and I loved cooking.”
Gaining experience through college and jobs at Krista’s Kitchen in Portage and a restaurant in the Dells, Julian graduated and found work at a country club in Illinois.
“I got a lot of experience, but it wasn’t quite my cup of tea,” she said. “And I was a little homesick.”
She found her way back to Madison College, finding a job in the cafeteria, which she said they jokingly refer to as No. 10 can land. But, she says, a lot of food is made from scratch.
Julian was offered a job as a culinary tutor for the school, and last fall she began teaching baking classes and theory.
Now she helps students find their way.
“Some people come in and have the passion for it and they kind of have shell shock when it’s not like cooking at home,” she said. “Because it’s not.”
Fast and furious
The first time she entered a cooking contest was four years ago as part of a college team.
“We came in last,” Julian said. “We didn’t even know how bad we were. I think everyone just congratulated us for showing up.”
Recently, however, the team took home a silver in the ACF’s hot food competition.
“It’s something that pushes me to keep learning,” Julian said. “It gets me out to see what other chefs are doing.”
Julian said she was happy just to be selected to the April regional pastry competition, which has a tough application process.
Everyone was given the same ingredients and knew that going in.
There was about an hour to plate four samples and 10 minutes to present to the judges.
“I probably practiced my dessert, completed how I was going to do it, about 10 times.”
“She always … goes above and beyond in what she does. She never just practices enough just to get by,” Jackie said.
But the national competition may be somewhat blind, with chefs not knowing the ingredients.
“I’m kind of scared spitless right now,” Julian joked.
Last year in the pastry competition, there was a plated dessert, a show piece with a fantasy theme, and a small petit four dessert.
“I’ve been thinking about all three of these things but not making anything too concrete.”
Julian said if she goes on to win the national competition in Florida, the honor would mean a lot to her, but the win would also be good for Madison College, which has never had a student or teacher win the award.
“We’ve been competing at this level for four years now,” said Paul Short, culinary program director for Madison College. “We entered this level of competition because we thought it would help our program get recognition for students who want to come here, but also companies pay attention to this kind of stuff.”
The program recently got another boost with the approval of an $8 million project to build a new home for the culinary school.
The three-story building on West Johnson Street and Wisconsin Avenue will house a dining room, demonstration kitchen and a retail bakery.
While she works part-time at the college, Julian also works for Sub-Zero and Wolf Appliances in Madison as a pastry chef.
“Now I make desserts for all the sales reps who come in,” she said.
May 3, 2012
From host.madison.com: “A room of her own: Where are the female executive chefs? – In mid-March, Francesca Hong joined a tiny, elite group in Madison.
At 23, she became the executive chef at 43 North, one of the only women in the city to hold such a top position and the only female to oversee an upscale kitchen downtown.
43 North, 108 King St., is a contemporary American bistro and part of the Restaurant Muramoto/Sushi Muramoto restaurant group. Hong has been a member of the kitchen team since the eatery opened in October 2010.
“You do have to fight to prove yourself a little bit more,” Hong said. “Even though I hate looking at it that way. I hate to think it’s harder for us, but I think in the end it’s true.”
Women bring something different to the business — a tendency to see their restaurant as an extension of themselves and their community, a strong belief in connections to local farmers, and a focus on caring for people. They can mentor young women coming into a male-dominated field, and they’re more likely to foster collaboration rather than a traditional kitchen hierarchy.
Despite a 50 percent increase in the number of female-owned restaurants in the decade between 1997 and 2007, as reported by the National Restaurant Association, women who run kitchens are still a stark minority, not even tracked by the trade association.
“When you find out why (women are) not being hired as executive chefs, please let me know,” said Paul Short, who runs the culinary arts program at Madison College (MATC).
About half of the graduates from MATC’s two-year culinary program are women, Short said, with “great skills.” They go into wine distribution and catering, become personal chefs, deli managers and cheesemakers.
“Why they’re not running top places, I’m not sure,” he said. “The talent I see is incredible.”
A main reason may be that families and a restaurant schedule don’t mix well.
While women are increasingly the primary or co-earner for their families, they’re also still the primary caregivers for children — in 2011, the census reported that nearly one in four married women with children younger than 15 stay at home with them.
“Restaurant work is so incredibly demanding,” Hong said. “I’ve already made some sacrifices … I want to balance career and family, and I think in the restaurant world it’s getting more and more difficult to do that.”
And the accolades tend to go to men. One of the highest culinary awards for chefs is given by the James Beard Foundation. Of 51 finalists this year, only seven are female.
The woman in the toque
Currently, Madison has just a handful of female executive chefs. For two years, Cory Richardson has been executive chef at Bishops Bay Country Club. Susan Hendrix co-owns and runs the kitchen at Sunprint Cafe, a breakfast and lunch place on the Capitol Square.
Melissa Strahota, a graduate of MATC’s culinary program, has been executive chef at The Fountain on State Street for three months.
The staff is small and money is tight, so she’s also a “line cook, a prep cook, a menu planner … I do ordering, I put everything away.”
“A lot of the women I have seen don’t get a foothold in kitchens because they don’t feel confident enough,” Strahota said. “It’s hard for restaurant owners to take it seriously … it’s accepted that men are the chefs.”
More common are women who work in pastry, like Elizabeth Dahl at Nostrano and Megan Belle at Harvest. Baking and dessert-making, fields more precise than working a line, are dominated by women.
“When I went into this I didn’t think about how unbalanced it would be,” said Belle, whose husband, Ian Stowell, is also a chef at Harvest. “It was how I got my foot in the door, and I ended up liking what I was doing.”
Tami Lax opened Harvest in 2000 after spending five and a half years (several as chef de cuisine) working for Odessa Piper at L’Etoile. There, Lax developed relationships with the restaurant’s purveyors, spending her day off harvesting with local farmers.
“It was work going to those farms and picking apples for 12 hours,” she said. “But you get done with the day and you’re like, this was awesome, the fresh air and birds and the smell of apples staining into your hands.
“That connection you make — for me, there’s not a better high.”
Women in the restaurant business are widely held to be less likely than their male counterparts to have their name on the door, and more interested in creating a symbiotic relationship between the front and the back of the house.
“I never know what’s gender and what’s personality,” said Nancy Christy, who owned Wilson Street Grill with Andrea Craig in downtown Madison for 14 years (1987-2001). “We had a desire to create an environment where we were mentoring our staff as well as leading and managing them.
“We had these beliefs about how you can create community, diversity in the work force.”
Christy recalled interns from culinary school telling stories about kitchens where, when a young cook turned her back, a chef would turn up the heat on her pots. It was a way of “keeping everybody on their toes,” Christy said.
“Is that how you want to learn cooking? Is that the environment you want?” she said. “Not me. … when I worked for Madame (Liane) Kuony, I quit when she pulled somebody’s hair.”
In a 2010 study, “Not One of the Guys: Women Chefs Redefining Gender in the Culinary Industry,” authors Deborah A. Harris and Patti Giuffre outlined still-held assumptions about women in professional kitchens.
“Common stereotypes are that women are not good leaders, are too emotional, and that they are not ‘cut out’ for male-dominated work,” the study says.
Respondents to the study — women with varying levels of professional experience — also posited that male chefs “were guided by the need to impress others while women were more driven by a need to please others.”
Piper told an interviewer in 1996, after 20 years at L’Etoile, that she tried to cultivate a “clean, beautiful, creativity-affirming workplace.”
Now, she thinks the number of women in kitchens naturally “ebbs and flows,” and that the gender of the person in charge is less relevant than the personality.
“I could be pretty tough when I wanted to be,” Piper said. “Women can be as macho as the best of them and men can be … collaborative or nurturing. It’s no longer the case that a certain type of behavior is owned by one gender or the other.
“Some of the most nurturing chefs I’ve ever worked with were men, who wouldn’t bully weakness or vulnerability. They see strong skills that needed to be coaxed out and given a creative, supportive environment.”
Others find that women tend to fare better with the shifting challenges at a restaurant. Jennie Capellaro, owner of the vegetarian Green Owl on the near east side, said two of her longtime “key people” are single mothers.
“There’s something about knowing how to feed people and provide for people,” said Capellaro. “It’s hard to explain … a calmer demeanor, being able to roll with things. Because they have to deal with a lot as moms, too, I think.”
At Harvest, Lax agreed.
“I always loved working with women in a kitchen,” Lax said. “It’s definitely a different energy than when you have a full male kitchen. A female kind of brings stability to the ‘mine’s bigger than yours’ syndrome that goes on.”
Simply seeing a female in the executive chef position can be encouraging for young women coming into the field. Strahota, who spent time at Angelo’s and Rosario’s in Monona, the Green Lantern in McFarland, and Sushi Muramoto, has only ever worked under male executive chefs. Hong said the same.
“I worshipped the cooks that were above me,” said Hong, who is still the only woman in her kitchen. “It’s strange to think of myself heading a kitchen now.”
Hong’s mentor and employer, chef/owner Shinji Muramoto, says Hong is one of only a few female chefs he’s employed. “We’ve never had many women chefs … you need to be strong, and there are long hours.
“Francesca, she really cares about the details of food. That’s a women thing, compared to men. She cares about the small details. I’m really glad to have Francesca as an executive chef. She’s very motivated and she cares about detail. So far she’s doing great.”
Christy says more young women are going into the field and they contact her regularly.
“What I would say is that traditionally there was a hierarchal (structure) in the kitchen, and women — we’re talking in stereotypes now — are less inclined to that environment and have branched out to find other vehicles for their craft and their art,” she said.
In her 2011 memoir “Blood, Bones and Butter,” Gabrielle Hamilton, the chef and owner at Prune in New York, recounted the “ongoing struggle to be female in a professional kitchen.”
“My entire work life, I had been working a double shift,” Hamilton wrote. “Constantly, vigilantly figuring out and calibrating my place in that kitchen with those guys to make a space for myself that was bearable and viable.
“Should I wear pink clogs or black steel-toe work shoes? Lipstick or Chapstick? … Swear like a line cook or giggle like a girl?”
As memorialized in Anthony Bourdain’s “Kitchen Confidential,” the back of the house is notorious for being a macho place where the cooks crack sex jokes while slaving away in 95-degree heat.
Time is tight and the stakes are high — make a customer wait too long for his food, overcook the chicken or under-season the soup, and that diner may never come back.
“It’s not a pretty job,” said Hendrix at Sunprint. “It’s not for a girly girl at all. … There are days when I wake up and think ‘What am I doing, I’m insane.’ Other days I think this is the best thing we could have ever done.”
Muramoto describes the rigors of the job: “For you to be a line cook, you’ve got to deal with flames and knives. Once you take a look at Francesca’s arms, you can tell. She has lots of scars from burning herself and cutting herself.
“That’s one thing that keeps them away — women don’t want to have the scars on their arms. Most men don’t care. They’re more proud of it.”
Madison’s female chefs and restaurateurs don’t talk about discrimination when they discuss the career that “chose them.” But many have swapped the idea of having a child for having a place where the food and atmosphere is an extension of themselves.
“If you want to own a restaurant and run a kitchen and also have a family, one of them will suffer,” said Hendrix, who has two cats but no children. “I don’t believe you can do both at the same time … unless you have a great husband who is going to be a house husband to help take care of the kids and raise them and do the things moms do.
“The demands of a restaurant are so varied and so diverse and constant, it’s like having a family.”
Piper, 63, spent her childbearing years “raising” L’Etoile. When she was chef de cuisine there, Lax felt similarly maternal.
“You get there at 9:30 in the morning, like your child is waking up, and you’re there until you tuck it into bed at night,” Lax said. “There’s no break. There’s no calling in sick.”
But the pressures of owning and running a restaurant can take a major toll. Biggie Lemke owns the Naked Elm in Blue Mounds with her former partner, Matt Heindl. The two have a daughter, 3-year-old Evelyn, and live in an apartment above the bakery/café.
“If I had it to do over again, I probably wouldn’t do it,” Lemke, 32, said. “It’s been really hard. I would’ve waited until Evelyn was in school full time.”
To turn out pizza, bagels and pastry to meet demand, Lemke has been working a high-intensity schedule. It doesn’t always seem worth it.
“As a full-time working mother, there are times when all I want to do is spend time with my baby,” Lemke said. “You want to be there when they’re throwing up, but you can’t call in sick.
“It’s really hard for a man to see what it’s like,” she added. “It’s just different.”
Evelyn’s 3rd birthday fell on a recent Saturday and Lemke had to work all day.
“At some point in the middle of the day, I was like, this is (expletive) stupid,” she said. “It’s my daughter’s 3rd birthday, I’m baking for the rest of the world and I don’t have time to bake her cupcakes.”
Lemke was quick to add that she loves the work, and she’ll likely continue to bake for the rest of her life. But for now, the Naked Elm is caught in a lease dispute with her ex-boyfriend’s parents and Lemke is convinced the environment is bad for her daughter.
“I had people tell me this is going to be the hardest thing you ever do in your life,” Lemke said. “And I thought, ‘OK, that’s fine.’ Literally I was starry eyed — those things aren’t going to happen to me.
“And then they did.”
The next big names
Like many formerly male-dominated careers, the culinary field seems to be moving, slowly, toward greater parity between men and women holding primary responsibility in the kitchen.
At 43 North, Hong still has ideals about balancing work and family. Her fiancé, Matt Morris, is a chef at Restaurant Muramoto, and so well understands the demands of their career.
“I would love to see more women in the kitchen, without having to feel like you have to be super badass or have a thick skin to keep up with the machismo that goes on kitchens sometimes,” she said.
“I don’t think a lot of Madison kitchens are like that. I don’t know if some people are apprehensive to start because they fear what they might’ve seen on TV.”
That’s not the case for 19-year-old Marissa Bertram. About to graduate with a culinary degree from Madison College, Bertram recently won the Central Region Student Chef of the Year Award at an American Culinary Foundation competition.
“I would like to own my own restaurant, or maybe a few restaurants, someday,” said Bertram, who will follow up her degree with a year in restaurant management. She wants to travel to Europe and stage (intern) in high-end kitchens. Thomas Keller, chef/owner of The French Laundry in Napa Valley, is an inspiration.
“It would be hard to have a lot of kids and travel places. But I guess I just — I try not to let things like that stop me,” she said. “I guess I’ll figure that out when I get there.”
April 18, 2012
From marshfieldnewsherald.com: “NTC partners with high schools to provide courses” – Since the fall of 2009, high school students in Abbotsford, Athens, Colby, Loyal, Spencer and Stratford have earned almost 1,400 Northcentral Technical College, or NTC, credits absolutely free of charge, saving them and their families more than $155,000.
These high schools along with NTC have formed a partnership to offer their students groupings of courses called Academies.
“Working with other area school districts allows us to provide viable educational opportunities for students to launch their careers,” said Reed Welsh, superintendent, Abbotsford School District. “As rural school districts we need to work together to help our students. We wouldn’t be able to offer the Academies on our own.”
Each Academy includes 14 to 16 transcripted credits that transfer to NTC or any of the universities where NTC has an existing articulation agreement. Students at the participating high schools can attend any of the three Academies that currently are offered: manufacturing, marketing and early childhood. Students will have the option of attending a health academy beginning in fall 2012.
The school districts pool their resources together to provide the instructors for the courses while NTC provides the curriculum for the Academies and space to hold the classes if needed.
“It’s just the right thing to do,” said Dan Nowak, NTC dean of K-12 Programs. “The Academies provide another pathway to higher education for a student, which is something we believe in.”
April 17, 2012
From newrichmond-news.com: “WITC-New Richmond students tour Maricopa County Jail” – The Criminal Justice Club from Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College-New Richmond campus recently attended the annual American Correctional Association Conference in Phoenix.
Among the many events, they toured the notorious Maricopa County Jail or “Tent City.”
Tent City, with a neon “vacancy” sign above it, is run by Sheriff Joe Arpaio. Up to 2,000 inmates live in tents, wear old-fashioned prison stripes and pink underwear; and the camp prohibits cigarettes, adult magazines, hot lunches and TV.
The students agreed the trip provided an excellent learning experience.
WITC serves the educational and career needs of more than 25,000 residents of Northwestern Wisconsin each year. With multiple campuses, WITC offers career-focused associate degree programs, technical diplomas, short-term certificates, customized training, and a wide array of courses for personal or career enrichment.
April 16, 2012
From bobburnsgolf.com: “Golf Course Turf and Engine Maintenance Program at Fox Valley Technical College” – Bob Burns Shop and Learning Center is pleased to announce our newest partnership with Fox Valley Technical College. We’ve combined efforts to offer a brand new program called the Turf Grass and Engine Maintenance Program.
If you’ve always wanted to work in the golf industry, this program will provide a great opportunity for you!
Whether you are just out of high school, facing a career change or maybe you just love golf, this new program may be the ticket.
The program will provide instruction in irrigation systems, sand traps and greens construction, and equipment repair.
If you’d like more information on this new program, contact Dale Drees at (920) 735-2489 or visit the Fox Valley Technical College Golf Course Turf & Equipment Technician page.
April 12, 2012
From postcrescent.com: “FVTC president Susan May works to interest students in science fields” – Fox Valley Technical College President Susan May has worked closely with local school districts to help high school students improve interpersonal skills and prepare for a career.
For her efforts, May received the 2012 Thomas Scullen Leadership award Wednesday at the annual Appleton Education Foundation dinner.
“I’m very grateful that there are those in the community that see me as being worthy of an award like that,” May said. “It’s a great feeling.”
The Scullen Award is given to a local leader in the field of education every year. Nominees for the award are judged on their commitment to improving education, ability to partner with other individuals and organizations to provide new programming, and history of advocating for local educational programming. Former Kimberly-Clark vice president Kathi Seifert nominated May for the award.
May said she sees a dire need for more science, technology, engineering and math programming.
“We simply don’t have enough young girls pursuing STEM fields, or frankly enough boys today pursuing those careers,” she said. “We’re constantly working on ways to help young people begin to explore and understand what these careers are about.”
May helped develop and promote a $66.5 million spending referendum for FVTC that voters in nine counties approved April 3. The measure will pay for an expansion of the school’s facilities that is projected to have an annual economic impact of $11.9 million.
“We’re incredibly excited about how to take this organization to another level, in terms of providing services in the community and addressing some really critical needs that exist in today’s workforce, and which may come in the next few years,” May said. “We’re really excited to bring facilities and programs online that will be incredibly responsive to the needs of this region.”