From thecountrytoday.com: “Career exploration: Ag education council considers new website plan” — MADISON — Wisconsin’s Agricultural Education and Workforce Development Council is heading in a new direction with its efforts to recruit potential workers for the state’s agricultural industry.

At a Sept. 17 meeting, WAEWDC members discussed a plan to transition from its “WhyAg” website that links qualified job candidates with companies that have employment needs to an online Career Pathways Initiative being developed by Northcentral Technical College in Wausau.

The career pathways website is designed to help middle and high school students, parents and displaced workers explore potential career end points for their educational efforts. It will be a resource for young people and displaced workers as they determine what type of education they need for jobs in the broad field of agriculture.

The website would include links to agriculture career exploration, higher education opportunities and job placement/wage data.

The WAEWDC was created by the Wisconsin Legislature in 2008 to help provide a qualified workforce to support the state’s agricultural industry. It has been struggling to stay financially afloat since no state money was allocated to fund the effort when the council was created.

Council vice chairman Corey Kuchta said Al Herrman, a past WAEWDC chairman and current council executive director, has been organizing a fundraising campaign to help fund future council efforts. Herrman is working on a volunteer basis.

“In October he’s going to start to do some mailings to ask people who have contributed to the council in the past for future contributions,” Kuchta said. “The money is needed to fund all of the council efforts.”

Lori Weyers, Northcentral Technical College president, said the career pathways website will outline the steps in the career decision-making process.

“Where do I want to go and how do I get there,” she said. “Students will be able to see what jobs are at the end of the path for them and how much those jobs pay.”

Katie Felch, director of marketing and public relations at NTC, described the website as a “one-stop shop to see all the things that are available.”

People visiting the website would be able to review a wide variety of agricultural job opportunities and investigate what type of school might be best for them to get the training they need for the job they want.

Council members discussed the possibility of selling advertising on the website to employers who are in need of agricultural workers.

Although NTC officials developed the website, Weyers said it could be customized to include information from all of the various technical colleges and universities in Wisconsin.

“Even though we developed this template, this is not about NTC,” Weyers said. “We did this on our own time as an in-kind donation to the council. We want to share it — you can use it and you can have it.”

WAEWDC members discussed on what server the website would be housed and who would pay for maintaining and updating it.

Weyers said she would come back to the next council meeting in December with information on how much it would cost to host the website on NTC servers. Council members said employer sponsorships could help pay for the service.

Each technical college and university listed on the website would be responsible for keeping its information current, Weyers said.

Randy Zogbaum, agriculture and natural resources consultant for the Wisconsin Technical College System, said he would take the concept to deans of the technical college system and ask for funds to help support the project.

Council members said the career pathways website could be an extension of what the council has been working on with its WhyAg initiative.

“I think this will be a great transition from WhyAg,” Kuchta said.

Kuchta said the difference with the career pathways website will be that people will be able to do everything from explore career opportunities to find a path to get there and see how much money they can make.

“This is why we exist as a council — to create an opportunity to build that pipeline for jobs and to connect workers and employers,” council member Liz Henry said.

Mike Compton, dean of the UW-Platteville School of Agriculture, said he is looking forward to sending the school’s agricultural ambassadors out to high schools with the career pathways website in their tool belt.

Council members said the new website would not compete with but be a complement to the Wisconsin Job Center website recently developed by the Department of Workforce Development. The website has a page devoted to agriculture.

On a related note, Wisconsin FFA Adviser Jeff Hicken said the National FFA Organization is collecting job and career data on an Ag Career Network. The effort is directed at helping students develop profiles, resumes and portfolios before they leave high school.

Paul Larson, an agriculture instructor in the Freedom School District, has agreed to continue as chairman of the council for the next year, Kuchta said.

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From wxow.com: “Western program helps ex-offenders” — LA CROSSE, Wisconsin (WXOW)– Western Technical College has a new initiative to help inmates transition to life outside of jail.

Western received a nearly $292,000 grant from the Federal Department of Education to aid a program geared toward helping inmates re-enter the community through education and social services.

For 15 years Western has provided educational opportunities in the jail but the new grant, called the Positive Re-entry Offered through Vocation-and Education-focused Narratives or PROVEN, goes beyond classes in jail.

Clifton just got his High school diploma, but the he didn’t take the typical route to graduation.

Clifton Traywick just got his High school diploma, but the he didn’t take the typical route to graduation.

“Partying, drinking and stuff, I got in some trouble ended up in jail. I did six months in jail,” Traywick said.

Clifton used those six months to get back on track, getting his GED and utilizing Western Technical College’s PROVEN program.

“People coming out of jail, while they’re in, will receive employability training through our education program, learn how to use the services that are available to them as they enter back in to the community,” said Chad Dull, dean of Learner Support and Transition at Western. “The intention of the grant is successful re-entry and for Western, hopefully transition to educational programs here at Western.”

To reduce the rate of re-offending, Western works not only with the La Crosse County Jail but other programs and groups like the YWCA, Justice Sanctions and Workforce Connections.

“Helping participants identify the resources that are in the community, to help them find housing if they have a felony, to help them maintain their sobriety in whatever capacity that looks like for those individuals, that’s definitely a huge part of this program,” said Tonya Vantol, the project coordinator.

Traywick says the program could reach a lot of inmates.

“It can help people not just as young as me, but people older too,” Traywick said. “Everybody needs help sometimes. People mess up and I feel like Western is a good way to get back on your feet.”

But it’s not just the inmates and ex-offenders reaping the benefits of Western’s program. The Proven Grant is working for the greater good of the community.

“It’s a fair question about why invest in people when they’re in jail. It’s always more cost effective to make sure people don’t go back to jail,” Dull said. “This is a way to turn tax users into tax payers. This is an investment in our community.”

The PROVEN grant is still in it’s infancy but already there are success stories like Clifton’s.

“I’m doing so well. I’m not hanging out with the same crowd, I’m not partying anymore. So I feel like, what can stop me?”

Clifton got out of jail a couple of weeks ago and is still utilizing the Proven program. He will begin classes at Western on Aug 29.

There were over 80 programs that applied for the grant with Western being one of just three selected. Western is the only program that serves a jail. The other two assist prison populations.

From kenoshanews.com: “Gateway Technical College offers support for military veterans” — By John Krerowicz – Russel Timms, who survived three tours of duty in Iraq, faced challenging Veterans Administration paperwork after he decided to return to college.

“If I had had to fill all that out on my own, it would have been a nightmare,” said the 31-year-old U.S. Army veteran from Kenosha.

Timms had help from counselors at Gateway Technical College, which began emphasizing veteran services in December when officials were considering how to serve students better, said Anne Witte, a student support counselor on the Elkhorn campus.

Timms graduated from Gateway in May with an associate degree in electrical engineering technology. He has received other degrees from Gateway, too. He plans to attend the Milwaukee School of Engineering this fall for a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering.

He said making the college attractive to veterans is a good idea.

“It’s nice to see fellow soldiers getting an education and bettering their lives,” he said. “It makes sense as there are quite a few veterans going to school there.”

There aren’t figures on the number of veterans attending Gateway, mainly because the application used statewide for the 16 Wisconsin technical colleges did not ask about military service, Witte said. That changed this past school year.

However, Witte did say Gateway figures showed 36 students received state financial aid benefits for veterans and 272 received federal benefits during the 2007-2008 school year. That’s jumped to 205 receiving state benefits and 491 with federal help for the 2012-2013 school year.

Gateway offers veterans help with financial aid, job-related matters and psychological issues, said Barbara Wagner, student adviser at the Burlington center.

Student veterans sometimes go through mental and other health issues such as trauma, loss and grief, as well as possibly difficult transitions into school settings, Wagner said.

Gateway has licensed counselors who can help with brief therapy and referrals for long-term therapy, she said.

“In many cases they’ve come from structured daily activities and now they have a lot more freedom to decide what they’re going to do,” Witte added. “That often can be culture shock.”

Veterans sometimes have concentration, memory and irritability problems affecting their education.

“Sometimes we see they have hypervigilance, a constant state of threat awareness, especially if they’ve seen combat, and that raises their stress levels,” she said. “We try to get them to lowering that threat level.”

Assisting veterans is a way to show appreciation for those who have served the country, Witte said.

“This is a benefit they’ve earned,” she said, adding, “Look what they do for us. It’s an awful lot, the sacrifices they make. We want them to know they’re appreciated. We owe them that.”

Services for military veterans include:

— lunch gatherings on topics such as finances, social media and employment, employers’ needs, interviewing skills, resumes.

— “red shirt Fridays,” where the clothing could be bought with lettering about Gateway supporting U.S. troops.

— a scholarship fundraiser — the first for veterans, called “Boots on the Ground” — drew in almost $625. Continuing veteran students can apply for the funds between late August and mid-October. The first veterans scholarship is to be awarded at the January 2014 Continuing Student Awards Ceremony.

— the Student Veterans of America Club, a national organization the school joined several months ago.

Veterans who want to consider attending Gateway can call 1-800-247 7122.

From beloitdailynews.com: “Business, education set session” — By Shaun Zinck – The connection between businesses and education is vitally important.

That will be the main theme for the annual Business Education Partnership Summit next month at the Eclipse Center.

The summit is sponsored by the Greater Beloit Economic Development Corporation (GBEDC), the School District of Beloit, Greater Beloit Chamber of Commerce and Beloit College.

The event will be presented from 7:30 a.m. – noon on Aug. 22 at the Eclipse Center in Beloit.

Rebekah Kowalski, director of Global Solutions for Right Management, will be the keynote speaker and will talk about the “Be Bold 2” initiative.

The “Be Bold” Initiative is a Wisconsin Economic Development Association program designed to study the competitiveness of Wisconsin on the business level. It includes looking at different industries and recommending improvements to the economic development strategies.

The summit’s theme is “Workforce Development – Are You Ready?” Attendees will learn how “collaboration between business and education can build a sustainable, skilled workforce,” a release on the summit said.

Andrew Janke, executive director of the GBEDC, said each year the summit draws 150 to 200 educators and business owners.

“It’s an opportunity to gather the business owners and educators in the area to listen to a topic or topics of mutual interest,” Janke said. “And through interacting they will be able to talk things through and identify issues both sides are having and may develop some solutions.”

In addition to Kowalski presentations will be given on Inspire Wisconsin by James Otterstein. The program is designed to connect employers with students and vice versa.

Susan Dantuma, from Blackhawk Technical College, will talk about the college’s youth apprenticeship programs and Bob Borremans, from the Southern Wisconsin Workforce Development, will talk about the Work Today Program.

Roundtable discussions will return this year after not being on the agenda last year. The topics for the roundtables are still being working out, Janke said.

Janke said attendees in last year’s survey indicated they would like to see the discussion make a come back this year.

“We try to intermix educators and business owners at the tables so there is actual interaction between the two,” he said.

At the end of the summit gift baskets with items donated by local businesses and the School District of Beloit will be raffled off.

The cost is $20 per person or $15 for a group of three or more. For more information or to purchase tickets visitwww.greaterbeloitworks.com/BusEdSummit2013.

From wxow.com: “State budget outlines K-12 funding” — Governor Walker made a stop at Western Technical College Monday, as part of what he’s calling his “Working for Wisconsin Tour.” The governor’s speech focused on the newly signed budget and what he sees as the benefits for the state, including a $650 million income tax cut. The budget also includes K-12 education funding for the next two years.

“We want to continue to transform education in this state so we put more money in our public schools, about $300 per student over the next two years, in our public schools,” Gov. Walker said. “We provide more educational options for our families.”

All Democrats in the Senate and Assembly voted against the budget, in part because the K-12 education funding. Rather than $300 dollars per pupil over the two years, Democrats hoped for close to $550 per, money they say could have come from other portions of the budget.

“We don’t think that the income tax break is a really logical thing because most people won’t even notice the couple dollars a week that it’s going to benefit them,” said Rep. Steve Doyle, a Democrat from 94th Assembly District. “That money we think would have better gone to K-12 education so that we really can fund our schools to the level they need to be funded. Talking with my local school superintendents, they’re not sure what they’re going to do to make ends meet in this next budget.”

But the governor says schools are finding ways to operate within their state mandated means, citing a Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism report released last week, that shows many districts in the state maintained the same amount of full time staffers or close to it over the last few years. The governor says the funding Democrats wanted just wasn’t in the numbers.

“The last time the Democrats had control of the budget process, they raised taxes more than $1 billion, they raised taxes via local property taxes, and they still cut money from public education,” Gov. Walker said.

Still it’s not all disagreement between the two parties, one portion of the budget garnering bipartisan support is a two-year tuition freeze for UW-System. Both the governor and Rep. Doyle say that will be boost for students and the state.

During the Assembly budget debate, Democrats didn’t bring up any amendments. Rep. Doyle says Republican leadership told the caucus they would reject the democrats proposed changes anyway. Rep. Doyle says instead, they will bring up the reforms in various pieces of legislation next session.

 

 

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

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

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

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

From nwtc.edu: “NWTC student named 2013 New Century Scholar” — Sacha Turner, a Northeast Wisconsin Technical College Accounting student, has been named one of nation’s 2013 New Century Scholars for her outstanding grades, leadership and campus activities.

Turner is one of 50 community college students from the United States, Canada, and the Federated States of Micronesia receiving a total of $100,000 in scholarships. The New Century Scholars Program is sponsored by The Coca-Cola Foundation, Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation, Phi Theta Kappa, and the American Association of Community Colleges.

Turner will receive a $2,000 scholarship and a plaque, which will be presented at American Association of College Presidents (AACC) Convention in San Francisco in April. She graduates from NWTC this May with an associate degree in Accounting and a certificate in Software. She also received a certificate in Business Operations in December of 2011. Next year, she plans to continue her education, pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Leadership and Organizational Studies from the University of Wisconsin System.

“I wouldn’t have had this opportunity had I not had the support of my advisors, instructors and fellow classmates, “ said Turner.  “Everyone here has contributed to help me earn this. It’s an amazing opportunity to represent NWTC as a New Century Scholar.”

As a mother to three young and active daughters, Turner finds the time to balance a demanding academic schedule, 4.0 grade point average and leadership positions in several college organizations. She serves as vice president of leadership for Phi Theta Kappa, as well as the vice president for NWTC’s Student Senate.

Her decision to come to NWTC came after years of doing accounting for small businesses. She realized getting her degree – and continuing her professional development through campus activities -could lead to a better life for her family and fellow classmates.

“I had always wanted to go back to school to be able to able to provide for my family, “ said Turner. “By being involved in these organizations, I’m held accountable. We strive to make differences for the entire student body. Getting to know all of the different people on campus is rewarding.”

“It’s all been so very worth it.”

Only one student from each state is chosen as a New Century Scholar. This is the second year in a row the Wisconsin recipient came from NWTC.  Port Lor, of Green Bay, was chosen for the honor last year. 

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