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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Seeing the benefits

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Future of agriculture

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Peterson was an active member of the Marshfield FFA.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Winners and their projects include:

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

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

More information on the winning projects is available at


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

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

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

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

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

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

From “MSTC students teach public about computers” – While Lori Skerven has a Facebook page, she admits she still has some learning to do when it comes to social media.

On Friday, Skerven, 62, attended the Mid-State Tech Expo, an annual free event held at the Lincoln Center, hoping to learn more about Facebook and computers in general. Information technology students from the college’s Stevens Point campus taught visitors a variety of things, from how to create a password that can help protect against identity theft to how to transfer pictures from a camera to a computer.

Skerven, who said she primarily uses Facebook to see what friends and family members are doing, learned Friday how to comment on Facebook posts by other people.

“I didn’t know it had switched from a button to hitting the return key for posting something,” said Skerven of Mosinee. “My mom is in her 80s and she seems to know more than I do, so I figured I should start learning a little more about it.”

Kathryn Doar, an IT instructor on the MSTC Stevens Point Campus, said, the event typically attracts about 100 people each year. About 28 students from the IT Customer Support Class, which is required for the college’s IT-network specialist and IT-software developer two-year degrees, were on hand to work with expo visitors.

“The students enjoy being a part of this experience because they have the opportunity to come out and work with people, which is going to be a part of their careers going forward,” Doar said.

Rebecca Brubaker, a second-year IT-network specialist student at MSTC, said most people who attend the expo are looking for help on how to get started or how to get past a problem.

“A lot of people who came to talk to me wanted to know how to change their profile picture or post something (on Facebook),” said Brubaker, 28, of Marshfield. “It’s a good experience, and I think it’s good we do it in our second year because you feel a lot more comfortable about what you’re learning, and also being able to explain it to someone else.”


MSTC celebrating centennial

October 17, 2013

From “MSTC celebrating centennial Tuesday” – MARSHFIELD – Mid-State Technical College is celebrating its centennial from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday, Marshfield Campus, 2600 W. Fifth St.

MSTC is a leading provider of higher education and training in central Wisconsin. Smaller beginnings 100 years ago have evolved into a network of educational opportunities throughout what is now known as the Mid-State Technical College District, according to a MSTC press release.

Today, the college provides more than 100 associate degrees, technical diplomas, and certificates, including 10 Wisconsin Technical College System programs you will only find at MSTC, according to the release.

In celebration of the centennial, people throughout the college district are invited to attend centennial celebrations at each of MSTC’s four locations.

The MSTC Foundation kicked off the year’s celebration Sept. 14 by hosting a Centennial Bike Ride & Walk. This non-competitive event which included 100K, 50K, and 10K bike routes and a 10K walk option drew 150 bikers, walkers, and volunteers. Over $8,000 was raised with all event proceeds going to student scholarships. About 80 percent of all MSTC students receive some kind of financial assistance.

MSTC, one of 16 colleges in the Wisconsin Technical College System, serves a resident population of approximately 165,000 in central Wisconsin with campuses in Marshfield, Stevens Point and Wisconsin Rapids, and a learning center in Adams.

For more information about these centennial events or to learn more about MSTC’s history, visit

From “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 “MSTC centennial events scheduled central Wisconsin campuses” - WISCONSIN RAPIDS — Mid-State Technical College is celebrating its centennial as a leading provider of higher education and training in central Wisconsin.

Smaller beginnings 100 years ago have evolved into a network of educational opportunities throughout what is now known as the Mid-State Technical College District. Today, the college provides more than 100 associate degrees, technical diplomas, and certificates, including 10 Wisconsin Technical College System programs you will only find at MSTC.

In celebration of the centennial, people throughout the college district are invited to attend centennial celebrations at each of MSTC’s four locations.

The first of the four centennial celebrations will be held from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. Thursday at the Wisconsin Rapids Campus, 500 32nd St. N., Grand Rapids. A re-dedication ceremony will take place at 4 p.m. in rooms L133/L134, followed immediately by a commemorative outdoor photo.

Visitors can experience hands-on demonstrations, visit high-tech labs and classrooms, explore career programs and certificates, discover new learning technologies, and meet faculty, staff, students, and college leaders, according to Centennial organizers. Approximately 600 to 650 high school students also are expected to be on campus that same morning for centennial themed events.

A similar celebrations also is scheduled from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Oct. 22 at Marshfield Campus, 2600 W. Fifth St., Marshfield.

Each celebration event is open to the community and honors MSTC’s past while celebrating its future. Attendees can enjoy a traveling historical display and a local flavor of snacks and refreshments from businesses throughout the college district. The Stevens Point Campus Centennial Celebration will be held on the new Stevens Point Campus and coincide with the grand opening and ribbon cutting.

The MSTC Foundation kicked off the year’s celebration by hosting a Centennial Bike Ride & Walk on Sept. 14. This non-competitive event which included 100K, 50K, and 10K bike routes and a 10K walk option drew 150 bikers, walkers and volunteers. More than $8,000 was raised with all event proceeds going to student scholarships. About 80 percent of all MSTC students receive some kind of financial assistance.

MSTC, one of 16 colleges in the Wisconsin Technical College System, serves a resident population of approximately 165,000 in central Wisconsin with campuses in Marshfield, Stevens Point and Wisconsin Rapids, and a learning center in Adams. MSTC students often save money and graduate with less debt than their four-year institution counterparts—a big reason why 95 percent of MSTC graduates say they are satisfied with their MSTC education. Instructors are industry experts who are passionate about sharing their skills and insights. Smaller classes and flexible scheduling foster student success. Students gain the real-world skills and experience employers seek, contributing to the fact that nearly 9 out of ten MSTC graduates are employed within six months of graduation.

Go to for more information about these centennial events or to learn more about MSTC’s history.

From “Column: MSTC – 100 years in the making” – By Sue Budjac, president MSTC - Mid-State Technical College is celebrating 100 years as a leading provider of higher education in central Wisconsin.

Last month, I spoke of my forthcoming participation in the Sept. 14 MSTC Centennial Bike Ride & Walk. I completed the 100K and learned a lot from other riders. Nearly 150 riders, walkers and volunteers were on hand for a fun and beautiful day.

This event was a tremendous success and is an example of MSTC and the community coming together to create a remarkable result. The event raised more than $8,000, with all proceeds going to student scholarships, reducing barriers for our students. Thank you to all of the participants, volunteers, individuals who pledged and numerous sponsors of the event.

A glimpse into the history books provides a vivid image of what life was like 100 years ago. For example, the big news in 1913 was the grand opening of New York City’s Grand Central Station. Henry Ford unveiled the first assembly line. Thomas Edison introduced an updated Kinetophone, or “talking pictures.” And in a true feat of innovation, machines that make their own ice, called “refrigerators,” became available in Europe. Only one year earlier, the world mourned the loss of the Titanic.

It is incredible that MSTC first opened its doors in similar times. In 1919, adult enrollment was just 200; now, nearly 9,000 people attend MSTC every year. The Wisconsin Valley Leader newspaper reported in 1916 that 52 people graduated from what was then called the Wood County Training School; today, 1,000 students graduate from MSTC each year.

Our academic programs have evolved through the years to adapt to changing industry and workforce needs. In 1947, MSTC organized fur farming and commercial cranberry growing programs. The first two-year program, marketing, was added 15 years later. Today, MSTC offers more than 100 career programs and certificates, with 10 innovative career programs found nowhere else in the Wisconsin Technical College System.

MSTC services and programs are a reflection of the communities we serve. I invite you to visit one of our college locations and experience present-day MSTC. Each location is hosting a centennial celebration to honor our past and celebrate our future. During these celebrations you will experience hands-on demonstrations, visit high-tech labs and classrooms, explore career programs and certificates, discover new learning technologies, and meet faculty, staff, students and college leaders. All events are free and open to anyone who would like to attend.

• Wisconsin Rapids Campus Centennial Celebration, 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. Oct. 10.

• Marshfield Campus Centennial Celebration, 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Oct. 22.

• Adams County Center Centennial Celebration, 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Nov. 5.

• Stevens Point Campus Centennial Celebration (and grand opening at our new downtown location), 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. June 4.

Thank you to individuals and organizations throughout central Wisconsin for your many contributions to, and ongoing support of, MSTC’s 100 years of success. Visit to learn more about MSTC centennial celebrations, as well as our many career programs and student services.


From “Job fair in Wisconsin Rapids full of employers” – Hundreds of job seekers headed to Mid State Technical College in Wisconsin Rapids.

The school held its annual job fair Thursday and coordinators say the turnout was better than expected.

According to the latest jobs report, businesses across the country continued to hire new workers in August.

Employers from all over Wisconsin attended the job fair.

From Madison to Green Bay, employers were looking for workers.

The job seekers included students and people of all ages.

57 employers set up booths in the gymnasium on Mid State Tech’s campus.

Organizers tell Newsline 9 that it’s the most booths they’ve had for the fall fair in several years.

“This past spring we had 58, this time we have 57, which is very encouraging and I’ve done this for a number of years and in the fall it’s usually pretty small, but this is our best fall in over seven years,” said Stephany Hartman, Career Services employee with Mid State Technical College.

Mid State Technical College holds two job fairs per year.

School leaders say the next one is in April of 2014.


From “New MSTC fire tower a safe way for emergency service personnel to learn” — By Karen MaddenGRAND RAPIDS — A new training tool at Mid-State Technical College will allow firefighters to practice basic to complex skills in a safe environment, according to officials.

Members of both career and volunteer fire departments helped design the campus’s new fire tower, said Barb Jascor, MSTC associate dean and fire training coordinator. It was important to the school to get input from fire departments in designing the new tower to make sure it met the needs of all central Wisconsin fire departments, as well as the needs of students.

On Monday, Wisconsin Rapids firefighters trained in the new tower for the first time. Until MSTC built its fire tower, Wisconsin Rapids firefighters traveled to Rome to train on the Rome Fire Department’s tower, Wisconsin Rapids Fire Department Captain Chuck Peters said.

“To be able to have this in our city is such an asset, not only to our department, but to Mid-State, as well,” Peters said.

The caliber of the new tower’s equipment rivals any that Peters has seen. Not only firefighters, but emergency medical technicians and law enforcement officers, will be able to use the tower to practice realistic scenarios in a safe environment, he said.

Rescuers can practice getting a patient down from the building’s third floor, Peters said. A basic medical issue can become much more difficult when EMTs have to get a patient down stairs, he said.

The tower contains two rooms where firefighters can practice putting out live fires, Jascor said. One is larger and can be used to simulate a living room or other large-room fire. A smaller room would be similar to a fire in a bedroom, Jascor said.

The second floor of the tower contains walls that can be moved to create different layouts. The ability to change the floor plan will keep firefighters from getting too accustomed to what they’ll find when they enter the tower for a training exercise, Jascor said.

The three-story tower has multiple doors in each room, window openings and both an inside and outside staircase, allowing many different types of training scenarios, Jascor said. An enclosed ladder on one side of the building is meant to simulate what firefighters would encounter in a silo or some factories.

Pittsville Fire Chief Jerry Minor said his department encounters situations such as the enclosed ladder frequently. Minor, who was a member of the committee that planned the tower, said the ladder is one of the things he asked to be included in the training structure.

“There are a lot of different options with this building,” Minor said. “I think we looked at about every conceivable option we could think of.”

Committee members toured many fire tours, Jascor said. They talked to fire departments and schools about what worked and what didn’t work, she said.

“The project was truly a collaborative effort,” Jascor said.

From “Column: MSTC centennial celebration in October” – As I wrote last month, Mid-State Technical College celebrates its centennial birthday this year. We are 100 years old! It will be a celebration that lasts all year, and we hope you will participate in many events to celebrate this milestone in our history.

We are making plans for our Centennial Celebration at Marshfield Campus, and we can’t imagine celebrating this milestone without you. Please consider this your official invitation to join us at Marshfield Campus from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Oct. 22. Help us treasure our past and celebrate our future.

You will experience hands-on demonstrations in many of our program areas. For example, the emergency medical services, nursing, respiratory therapy and surgical technologist programs will offer interactive simulated activities. The welding area will feature stainless steel welding techniques in our recently renovated lab. Urban forestry students will be here to demonstrate their skills. Business and information technology programs will also have interesting hands-on activities for you to enjoy.

We hope you will attend our celebration to experience our specialized lab facilities and interactive demonstrations. Our positive environment is focused on student learning and the services needed to support learning. The use of technology is a significant component of a technical college education. Our specialized labs attempt to replicate the settings and equipment in which our graduates will work.

The programs that we offer at each of our campus locations are designed to meet the needs of employers in our communities. Each program is advised by a committee of employees and employers in the field. These advisory committees keep us well connected with the employers in our district. Each committee includes employees who work in the position for which we are training as well as individuals who supervise these employees. They provide up-to-date information on skills, techniques, and equipment that needs to be included in the curriculum.

If you are unable to attend our Marshfield Campus celebration, please consider attending one at another of our campus locations. These events will be Oct. 10 in Wisconsin Rapids, Nov. 5 in Adams and June 4 in Stevens Point. On these days, we will showcase our programs for high school students in the morning and celebrate with the community in a variety of afternoon and evening activities. Visit our website at to learn details about each event.

A new degree program at Mid-State Technical College, or MSTC, is designed to address the need to provide services for an aging population in central Wisconsin.

The college has begun offering a two-year associate degree program in gerontology, the study of the physical, mental and social changes in seniors as they age. The program is available only at the Stevens Point campus.

Beth Smith, associate dean of MSTC’s Service and Health Division, said the program was in development for a few years before receiving final approval by the Wisconsin Technical College System board back in March; it is only one of two in the state. Smith said MSTC was a good choice for the program because of the demographics of the region.

The U.S. Bureau of the Census estimates that around 17.7 percent of the population in Wood County was 65 years old and over in 2012; 15 percent were older than 65 in Marathon County and 13.7 percent in Portage County.

“We had to show that a program like this would have strong enough interest here, and that there would be jobs in the community for our graduates,” Smith said. “The population is aging, particularly at the local level, and that population will need people who can provide services to them.”

Smith said graduates from the program could serve as activity directors at senior living centers, as lobbyists or advocates for the elderly or could work at aging and disability resource centers. The Wisconsin Technical College System estimates the annual salary for a graduate of the gerontology program at $27,940.

Sarah Gray is one of three activities directors at Harmony of Stevens Point, an assisted living facility at 1800 Bluebell Lane. After being laid off from Sentry Insurance about five years ago, Gray opted to go back to school and get into the health care industry. After earning a degree in business administration from MSTC, she worked for Aurora Community Services for two years, managing an adult family home, before joining Harmony a year ago.

“I was one of those people who never thought I would be working at a place like this, that I was happy behind a desk,” said Gray, 26, of Stevens Point. “After I got laid off, when I looked at what was out there, this profession was a great option. There were a lot of jobs out there, and I found that I enjoyed working with people.”

Smith said the program now has 11 students, and around 27 students are taking general education courses and will be able to enroll at a later date.

“That’s definitely a stronger number than we were expecting, but I think it shows the interest there is in this field,” Smith said.

Sheila Bluhm is the primary instructor for the gerontology program, and helped Smith in getting it approved. Bluhm is teaching the first course in the program, introduction to social gerontology, which will cover several issues related to aging — family relationships, social support, retirement, poverty and politics.

“It’s meant to provide a foundation that we can build on throughout the program,” Bluhm said. “It was exciting to get this program put together, because we feel like this will have a real impact locally.”


From “Event inspires administrators to go two-wheelin’” – GRAND RAPIDS — These days, Sue Budjac, of Rome, and Connie Willfahrt, of the town of Arpin, might consider riding their bikes to their Wisconsin Rapids campus office as a simple jaunt.

That might not have been the case last spring, when Budjac, Mid-State Technical College president, and Willfahrt, vice president of student affairs and information technology, decided to participate in Saturday’s centennial bike ride, a kickoff event to the college’s 100th anniversary celebration.

The ride will highlight the employee wellness program and offers a ride — or walk — at three levels: a 100K and 50K bike ride and 10K ride or walk, Budjac said.

“It (also) allows us to extend an invitation to community members throughout our district in hopes of engaging them in our celebration,” Budjac said.

The noncompetitive event benefits the college’s scholarship program.

“In addition to celebrating the college’s 100 years, it’s also an opportunity to celebrate and help reduce barriers for our students, because the funds that, either through donations that have been made or through registration fees, those funds are going to go to assist students through emergency loans and scholarships,” Budjac said.

More than 80 percent of the college’s almost 9,000 students at its four campuses get some type of financial assistance. The average age for students is about 28, and many are working and have families, Budjac said.

“They struggle every day to achieve their education goal, and a scholarship makes a huge difference in them being able to continue with school,” she said.

It might have been easy for the administrators to sit back and be content to help facilitate and support the event from a bystander aspect. But these two women decided to lead by example. They bought bikes, helmets — even bike wear.

“If I were a designer, I would design much more complimentary bike shorts,” quipped Budjac.

Willfahrt laughed.

“It’s not about fashion; it’s about comfort,” she said.

“What really motivated me was the excitement that has been brewing throughout the weeks and months of planning and wanting to jump in and be part of that,” Willfahrt said.

It’s been a work in progress, but both could be considered accomplished bikers. Willfahrt participated in her first official event, a 70-mile ride in Door County, which she proudly finished in just more than five hours.

Budjac’s practice route was a 60-mile trek around Lake Petenwell.

“That’s a lot of butt-to-seat time,” Budjac said, regarding the length of the rides.

Both said they have relished the training journey and look forward to Saturday’s ride. They’ll both participate in the 100K ride — just more than 62 miles.

“I’m thoroughly enjoying this, so I anticipate participating in an event at least once or twice a year,” Willfahrt said.

Budjac is along for the ride, but more as a recreational biker.

“I don’t see another 100K in my future, but I’ll keep riding,” Budjac said.

From “MSTC celebrates centennial with ride/walk” – In celebration of 100 years of central Wisconsin education and training in what is now known as the Mid-State Technical College, or MSTC, District, the MSTC Foundation is hosting a Centennial Bike Ride & Walk on Sept. 14. This non-competitive event includes 100K, 50K and 10K bike routes and a 10K walk option. All routes begin and end at MSTC’s Wisconsin Rapids Campus.

The 50K and 100K bike routes meander throughout north Wood County. The 10K bike and walk routes go around Lake Wazeecha in South Wood County Park. Beverage and snack stations will be provided for participants along each course.

Registration costs $25 per person and includes opportunities for prizes. Children 12 and younger are free and must be accompanied by an adult. An event T-shirt will be provided to all participants who register by Aug. 21. All biking participants must wear helmets.

Proceeds of this event support the educational programs of the college through educator and student grants and scholarships. Contributions are tax-deductible.

Additional information and the event registration form are available online at or call the MSTC Foundation office at 715-422-5322 or email

MSTC’s Centennial Celebration includes a total of five events during the 2013-14 school year. In addition to the Bike Ride & Walk, people throughout the college district are invited to attend centennial celebrations at each of MSTC’s four locations: Wisconsin Rapids Campus on Oct. 10, Marshfield Campus on Oct. 22, Adams County Center on Nov. 5, and Stevens Point Campus on June 4, 2014. Each celebration event honors MSTC’s past and celebrates its future. Centennial organizers say visitors of the final four events will have the opportunity to learn about new technologies, view fascinating hands-on demonstrations, tour facilities, and explore MSTC student services and academic programs.

MSTC, one of 16 colleges in the Wisconsin Technical College System, is a leading provider of higher education offering more than 100 associate degrees, technical diplomas and certificates, including 10 Wisconsin Technical College System programs you will only find at MSTC. Student-focused and community-based, MSTC serves a resident population of approximately 165,000 in central Wisconsin with campuses in Marshfield, Stevens Point and Wisconsin Rapids, and a learning center in Adams. Smaller classes, flexible scheduling, and instructor involvement all foster student success and contribute to the fact that nearly 9 out of ten MSTC graduates are employed within six months of graduation.


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