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

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

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

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

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

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


From “Nicolet College students participate in state legislative seminar” — Nicolet College student Ryan Raschke saw it as his personal responsibility to travel to the Wisconsin State Capitol to advocate for the students and the colleges in the Wisconsin Technical College System.

“It’s all about being an engaged citizen,” Raschke said. “It’s important to stand up for the great education we have in Wisconsin. For me, I wanted to do my part, to talk to legislators, to make sure the technical college system remains strong and intact so future students can benefit from it as much as I have.”
Raschke, who is studying natural resources in Nicolet’s University Transfer program, was joined by Nicolet Accounting student Craig Collins on the recent trip to Madison to participate in the Wisconsin Student Government Legislative Seminar. The annual event brings together student leaders from across the technical college system to learn first-hand about the legislative process and how to advocate for issues they deem important.

During their time at the three-day legislative seminar, the two attended numerous workshops and presentations that covered proposed legislation affecting the WTCS, tips for meeting with legislators, strategic partnerships and external relations, along with other topics.

Raschke and Collins were joined on their trip to Madison by six other Nicolet students who participated in a companion event, the student showcase. Held in the Capitol Rotunda, the showcase spotlighted service learning and classroom projects. The six who participated in the student showcase included:

- Business Management student LaceyLyn Statezny on a project her class completed to generate awareness and raise funds for multiple sclerosis;

- Graphic Design students Karli Radeka, Charolette Fohner and Ashley Pieper on their efforts to inspire high school juniors and seniors to pursue the arts;

- and Culinary Arts students Sean Craven and Kenneth Golden on their capstone class project where they catered an employee appreciation day event at a local business.

In all, more than 130 student leaders from all 16 state technical colleges participated in the legislative seminar and student showcase.

From “Nicolet College, Rhinelander Fire Department relish training relationship” – An employee at the Experia Paper Mill in Rhinelander crawls through the small opening barely large enough to fit one person and enters one of the massive boilers at the mill for routine maintenance.

But it turns out to be anything but routine as due to the unequal footing of tons of ash and debris, his foot slips and he breaks his leg.

Those on the outside are unable to reach the man in the dusty, poorly ventilated space so the call goes out for help. The Mill’s Rapid Response Team is on the scene and the Rhinelander Fire Department is on the way. In minutes, the man is being looked after by emergency personnel and not long after the call went out, he is in a Rhinelander Fire Department transport on his way to the hospital.

And all along, Mark England is standing by making notes, watching the whole thing unfold.

That was the scenario for a recent joint training between Experia, the Rhinelander Fire Department and Nicolet College, where England works as a safety and health specialist and conducts these types of trainings around the college’s district.

“We do these trainings all over the northern part of the state,” England said. “We go everywhere in the Nicolet College district.”

England said there is more involved than just the hands on experience to these training runs.

“What we typically do is take a look at the regulations, do a refresher course and a PowerPoint,” he said. “It is about 16 hours of training and classroom time.”

While the training may be lengthy, to be able to rely on the college to aid in training is something valuable to Rhinelander Fire Chief Terry Williams.

“It’s a great partnership to have,” Williams said. “They help us out tremendously. “Without their help we could not make our training budget stretch as far as we do.”

And that budget is under a lot of pressure as a fire department like Rhinelander’s has to undergo a lot of training during the course of the year.

“We have guys doing something every month,” Williams said. “We try to do the training on shift if possible. But some guys have to go to training on their own and then come back and teach the rest of us.”

Williams said they have five certified instructors on staff and five certified EMT instructors.

But it is trainings like the one recently at Experia where the partnership with Nicolet comes into play and Williams said having different eyes on a situation helps the learning process.

“There are always different ways to do things,” he said. “Hopefully they get easier over time. We definitely want to keep updating our skills.”

For England and the college, working with a professional fire fighting crew in Rhinelander helps their program as well.

“We are always learning new things when we go through a training,” England said. “I am relatively new to this position to listen to these guys with so much experience and to listen to what they are seeing as they go through the training is valuable.”

From “Conference honoring caregivers coming to Nicolet College” — Professional and family caregivers who provide direct care services at home or in long-term care settings are invited to attend the 8th Annual Direct Caregivers Conference next month at Nicolet College.

Sandy Bishop from Nicolet College is a member of the Northern Wisconsin Long Term Care Workforce Network. She says it’s a day to celebrate those who give care to others…

“…its a day for us to provide education, not only for certified nursing assistants, but also for other direct care providers and caregivers on all types of topics of interest to them…..”

Keynote speakers include Lynda Markut, author of Dementia Caregivers Share Their Stories: A Support Group in a Book; and Charles Schoenfeld, author of A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Dementia Ward – Memoir of a Male CNA.

The conference is February 14 at the Northwoods Center at the Rhinelander campus. More information and registration is available by contacting the Nicolet College campus.

From “Nicolet College names welding student of the year” – Three weeks after starting Nicolet College’s welding program, Chad Lawfer, of Minocqua, was ready to quit.

Learning the tig welding process was proving to be more than a challenge.

“I have to say, there was one point where I had just had it,” Lawfer said. “I was ready to walk.”

But he didn’t, digging deep to persevere.

On Dec. 17, Lawfer was named Nicolet’s Welding Student of the Year.

“Lawfer definitely deserves it,” welding instructor Warren Krause said. “He could have taken the easy way out and just quit, but he didn’t. He stuck with it and one day everything just clicked for him and he was able to do all of welds.”

Not only was he able to do the welds, he did them to a very high standard, earning straight As.

As good of a student as he is technically and academically, he also has other talents called soft skills which employers seek out, according to Chuck Kopp, adjunct welding instructor.

“Lawfer always comes in with a positive attitude and is always willing to help other students,” Kopp said. “He has a strong work ethic, knows how to communicate well, and is just a great guy to be around. Manufacturers today want new employees with these traits and skills.”

Lawfer said his instructors deserve the credit for his success. “They’ve just been fantastic,” he said. “They take the time to work with you until you really understand what they are teaching. I owe it all to them.”


From “Gov. Walker signs Youth Apprenticeship bill in Rhinelander” – Governor Scott Walker has signed a bill in Rhinelander that he says will help employers get more skilled workers to companies. Youth Apprenticeship integrates high school-based and work-based learning to instruct students in skills defined by Wisconsin industries. It works with local school districts and the area technical colleges.

Stopping at Nicolet College to sign the Youth Apprenticeship Walker says the bill passed both legislative chambers with just one “no” vote, showing broad bi-partisan support. The program is already in action, but the new funding enlarges the program. 1900 students went through the program last year Walker says…

“….we were able to put a half-million(more) in each year…for a total of $4.6 million dollars that will be invested in this program. And in doing so, we’ll be able to place 550 more individuals into this youth apprenticeship program….”
Walker says manufacturing, agriculture, architecture, information technology and healthcare are targeted for apprenticeships. Walker says the business community needs skilled workers in these areas now…

 “….many of our employers across the state, particularly our small and mid-sized employers would add more work but they’re a little bit resistant to do that right now until they know they can fill the positions they have for things like high-skilled welders, CNC operators, machinists, tool-and-dye operators….”

Walker says manufacturing jobs pay more, have more benefits and workers stay longer than many other jobs.


From “Sixth graders visit Nicolet College for hard and soft rock tour” – Thirty-two sixth graders from Nativity Catholic School recently had the chance to visit the Nicolet College’s Geology Lab to examine the college’s extensive collection of rocks.

The igneous and metamorphic rocks a billion years old and more featured in the event are common in this part of the state, Nicolet Geology Instructor Paul Ehlers told the students.

“But in the southern part of the state, rocks that old are virtually non-existent,” Ehlers said. “Right around Wausau, the Canadian shield bedrock ends and you start getting a lot more sedimentary rocks, which aren’t nearly as old.”

During the course of their visit, Ehlers walked the students through the wide variety of rocks that are found in different parts of the state and explained the geologic processes that gave each its unique character.

“The kids were so engaged and interested in what they were looking at,” said Ehlers, who regularly gives presentations at PK-12 schools in the Northwoods.

From “Nicolet College students who transferred early to UW-Madison can now get Nicolet associate degree” – Nicolet College students who transferred to the University of Wisconsin-Madison before completing all of the requirements for a two-year associate degree now have a way to finish the Nicolet associate degree while attending UW-Madison.

Officials from both campuses recently signed a reverse credit transfer agreement that gives students the opportunity to receive a Nicolet associate of arts or associate of science degree once they complete required courses at UW-Madison.

“We found that many students were transferring to UW-Madison before they had completed all of the required courses for a Nicolet associate degree,” Nicolet College President Elizabeth Burmaster said. “What this agreement does is give students the opportunity to transfer their UW-Madison credits back to Nicolet and receive a Nicolet associate degree once all course requirements are met. This way they will have a recognized college credential as they continue working toward their bachelor’s degree.”

The agreement applies to students who transfer a minimum of 16 Nicolet credits to UW-Madison and have completed at least 15 credits at UW-Madison. The agreement applies to all new students as well as to those already attending UW-Madison.

Nicolet’s University Transfer Liberal Arts program is the largest academic program at the college, with more than 400 students enrolled every year. The program offers three different degrees: associate of arts, associate of science, and an associate of science with a natural resources emphasis.

In all, Nicolet has more than 70 transfer agreements with four-year colleges and universities. These include with all University of Wisconsin campuses and many private institutions, and a special agreement with UW-Madison that guarantees admission to Nicolet students who have at least 54 credits and at least a B average.

For more information about the reverse transfer agreement or other aspects of the University Transfer Liberal Arts program, contact the Nicolet College Welcome Center at 715-365-4493, 800-544-3039, ext. 4493; TDD 715-365-4448.

From “Heavy Metal” Appeals to Students” – WXPR’s Ken Krall took a look at the future with some Northwoods 8th graders  at Nicolet College in Rhinelander. He took the “Heavy Metal Tour.”

Not a rock band, but a job fair of sorts: the “Heavy Metal Tour” is sponsored by Nicolet College,  Northcentral Technical College, 27 manufacturing employers, and boards and alliances.

Rene Daniels from North Central Wisconsin Workforce Development Board says the goal is to give 8th graders a look at careers they might not have considered.

“We’re trying to catch students at a point in their lives -these are eighth graders – when they’re starting to think about those careers and what they could possibly do.  And we want to keep as many of our students here in the Northwoods as we can.  And so we want to expose them to an industry and occupations that are in their own backyard.  It really is eye-opening.”

Olivia from Minocqua said she had thought about a job in sports but saw other possibilities…

“I’m excited to find out more about the industry, cause I hadn’t really thought about a job there.  So it’ll be nice to see what’s out there.”

Nate from Mercer wants to fly, but realizes people need to build the planes.

“I wanted to be a pilot – so I was thinking there would be some stuff, maybe making things for airplanes or how things are made.”

The students toured Rhinelander-area manufacturers and heard about training at the two technical colleges. Promoters say manufacturing jobs have changed a lot over the last decades, requiring computer and math skills. October is Manufacturing Month.

From “Lac du Flambeau Tribe and Nicolet College form accredited tribal-technical college dental hygiene program” – The Lac du Flambeau Tribe is proud to announce the formation of the accredited Tribal-Technical College Dental Hygiene program. This premiere collaboration is the first of its kind partnership between an Indian Tribe and a technical college in the nation. Nicolet College, in association with Peter Christensen Dental Campus, has developed the accredited tribal-technical Dental Hygiene program.

Nicolet College recently received its initial accreditation approval from the national Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA). The partnership allows students a hands-on educational experience in a state-of-the-art dental facility.

“This is great news, especially for the students currently in, or looking at entering the Dental Hygiene program,” Dr. Lenore Mangles, Dean of Health Occupations at Nicolet College, said. “In order for students to take their licensure exam to work in the Dental Hygiene field, they must graduate from an accredited program. We are thrilled students in the Northwoods will now have that opportunity.”

The rigorous accreditation process started nearly a year ago, and included a comprehensive review of numerous aspects of Nicolet’s program. The process included evaluations of course content, what skills students would learn, and a plan for students that ensured clinical training on patients of all ages.

To meet the requirements the college worked extensively with Dental Director Paco Fralick and other staff at the Peter Christensen Dental Campus to develop a curriculum that would meet the CODA requirements and provide accessible career opportunities for Tribal Members and students throughout the Northwoods region.

This past spring, five of the 10 students that enrolled in the dental assisting program were Native American. For the fall session, the program currently has 11 individuals enrolled in the program and five in the dental hygiene program. There are two full-time instructors and three part-time instructors for both programs.

Nicolet College received grant funding for the initial start-up and operation of the programs. Health Director of the Peter Christensen Dental Clinic Paco Fralick is optimistic that the programs will increase the number of Native Americans entering into the field of dentistry.

“I’m very proud of the work our staff and Nicolet College did to make this happen,” Fralick said.

Historically, Native Americans have been overwhelmingly under-represented in the field, with Dr. Fralick being only one of 150 Native American dentists in the nation.
“Now students looking for a career in dental hygiene or dental assisting can have the latest and most technologically advanced learning experience close to home,” Fralick said.

For more information about Nicolet’s dental education programs, visit Nicolet’s website, or call the college at 715-365-4451 or 800-544-3039, extension 4451.

From “Nicolet’s new Dental Hygiene program receives national accreditation” – Nicolet College’s Dental Hygiene program recently received its academic seal of the approval from the national Commission on Dental Accreditation and has been granted initial accreditation.

The Commission is a specialized accrediting body recognized by the United States Department of Education.

“This is great news, especially for the students in the Dental Hygiene program,” said Lenore Mangles, Nicolet dean of Health Occupations. “In order for students to take their licensure exam to work in the Dental Hygiene field, they must graduate from an accredited program. We are thrilled students in the Northwoods will now have that opportunity.”

The rigorous accreditation process started nearly a year ago and included a comprehensive review of numerous different aspects of Nicolet’s program. This included an evaluation of course content and the skills students would learn, a plan for students to get clinical training on patients of all ages with a broad range of oral health issues, instructor credentials, and the college’s partnership with dental clinics.

To meet the last requirement, the college has worked hand-in-hand with staff at the new Peter Christensen Dental Clinic in Lac du Flambeau. Students in Nicolet’s two-year Dental Hygiene program will get much of their training in this state-of-the-art facility.

Mangles also noted that there is still room in dental classes for Fall Semester, which starts Monday, Aug. 26.

For more information about Nicolet’s dental training programs, visit or call the college at 715-365-4451, 800-544-3039, ext. 4451; TDD 715-365-4448.

From “Young people learn how to create arcade games” – Rhinelander - Video games are sounds most parents don’t want to hear during the summer time.

What they might not know is these kids are learning to create arcade games.

“It’s a lot more complicated that people give it credit for. In fact building videos games is probably one of the most complicated areas of computer science,” said Computer Programming Instructor, Ethan Blue.

“So starting to develop these skills in a kid friendly way with the software we’re using really helps them to develop critical thinking, reasoning, using resources, things like that.” Young people in this class are between the ages 10 and 13 years old.

At Nicolet College they learn how to control characters, objects and create backgrounds for four days.

Instructor Ethan Blue said he didn’t want the first day of class to be boring.

“Kids tend to get sort of bored when you just talk about the idea behind logic and things like that. They want to play,” Blue said.

“So we start them making games right away. They start putting graphics in. It starts off simple and as things progress through the four-day camp, things get more complicated as they go.”

Making the video games sounds pretty cool, but there’s a lot of mathematics involved.

“You have to pretty much know like the X and Y axis’s and negative and positive numbers,” said 12 year old, Sebastian Wittig.

“If you screw it up, the game won’t work right. You’ll go through walls.”

After the program is over, an aspiring game designer says he might have his family try out his new game.

“I think my personalized game is pretty good. When the class is over I’ll try to make my brothers play it.” 10 year old, Keagan Brown said.

One message Blue wants parents to know about this program is kids will be kids.

“Just encourage your kids to be kids and to play and that’s really how you learn. That’s how I developed a love for learning and how I became an instructor at a college,” Blue said.

“So don’t just throw away video games just because they’re games. You can get a lot out of them too.”

From “Industrial manufacturing skills training info session Aug. 15 at Nicolet College” – With high local demand for workers with solid industrial manufacturing skills, Nicolet College will be holding an information session will be held Thursday, Aug. 15, for anyone interested in learning about the skills and training necessary to enter the field.

The Industrial Mechanical Information Event will take place from 4 to 7 p.m. in the college’s Manufacturing Lab in Art Tech Center 108 on the Nicolet Campus.

Anyone interested can drop in any time that is convenient for them to tour the lab and meet with instructors.

At 5:30 p.m., area manufacturing employers will take part in a panel discussion to talk about the specific skills they need in employees, how people can get these skills, and how an individual can go about applying for a job at the various manufacturing facilities.

Grants to cover all tuition costs are available to qualifying individuals. Nicolet staff will be on hand to help people fill out the grant applications as well as fill out the application for admission to Nicolet College.

Nicolet staff will also be on hand to give tips on how to write a good resume as well as what it takes to perform well in a job interview.

Nicolet offers a manufacturing skills training program that starts with students earning the short-term Industrial Maintenance Fundamentals certificate. Credits earned can then be applied to the one-year Industrial Electronics Maintenance technical diploma which then ladders into the two-year Industrial Mechanical Technician associate degree.

Wages in the Northwoods range from $12 to $24 an hour, depending on experience.

For more information about industrial manufacturing training at Nicolet, visit or call the college at 715-365-4451, 800-544-3039, ext. 4451; TDD 715-365-4448.

From “Industrial manufacturing skills training info session Aug. 15 at Nicolet College” – With high local demand for workers with solid industrial manufacturing skills, Nicolet College will be holding an information session Thursday, Aug. 15, for anyone interested in learning about the skills and training necessary to enter the field.

The Industrial Mechanical Information Event will take place from 4 to 7 p.m. in the college’s Manufacturing Lab in Art Tech Center 108 on the Nicolet Campus.
Anyone interested can drop in any time that is convenient for them to tour the lab and meet with instructors.
At 5:30 p.m., area manufacturing employers will take part in a panel discussion to talk about the specific skills they need in employees, how people can get these skills, and how an individual can go about applying for a job at the various manufacturing facilities.
Grants to cover all tuition costs are available to qualifying individuals. Nicolet staff will be on hand to help people fill out the grant applications as well as fill out the application for admission to Nicolet College.
Nicolet staff will also be on hand to give tips on how to write a good resume as well as what it takes to perform well in a job interview.
Nicolet offers a manufacturing skills training program that starts with students earning the short-term Industrial Maintenance Fundamentals certificate. Credits earned can then be applied to the one-year Industrial Electronics Maintenance technical diploma which then ladders into the two-year Industrial Mechanical Technician associate degree.
Wages in the Northwoods range from $12 to $24 an hour, depending on experience.
For more information about industrial manufacturing training at Nicolet, visit or call the college at 715-365-4451, 800-544-3039, ext. 4451; TDD 715-365-4448.

From “SWTC + Nicolet = UWP” – By Robert Callahan - Proving the hundreds of miles between them is no obstacle, Southwest Wisconsin Technical College, UW–Platteville and Nicolet College will join forces per an articulation agreement signed last week.

The three institutions of higher learning will award an Associate of Arts or Associate of Science degree, otherwise known as a University Transfer Liberal Arts degree, to qualifying students.

UW–Platteville Chancellor Dennis J. Shields, Southwest Tech President Dr. Duane M. Ford and Nicolet College President Elizabeth Burmaster signed the agreement on the UW–Platteville campus Wednesday morning.

“We are thrilled at this prospect and all the opportunities it provides us,” said UW–Platteville Provost Mittie Nimocks Den Herder as she welcomed those in attendance.

Students earning the University Transfer Liberal Arts degree at Nicolet College will be eligible to have all credits transfer and meet the UW–Platteville general education requirements, with the exception of ethnic and gender studies.

Southwest Tech students will complete a year of coursework through the Fennimore campus and a subsequent year through Nicolet College classes taught online, enabling the student to remain in southwest Wisconsin instead of attending the Nicolet College campus in Rhinelander.

After the completion of the “1+1” program, students are awarded the Transfer Liberal Arts Associates degree. Students who maintain a minimum 2.0 grade point average in the program will be guaranteed admission to UW–Platteville.

“One of the things that all three of our institutions have in common is we are points of access to higher education in Wisconsin,” said Shields. “Many of our students that come are first-generation college students. Working together with institutions like Nicolet and Southwest Tech is part of our DNA at Platteville.

“This articulation agreement I think expands on the opportunity for us to serve those populations. The ability to get a bachelor’s degree working through our three institutions, staying close to home, gaining access to higher education, is what we are all about.”

In recent years, Ford discovered 125 students, residents of the Southwest Tech district, were pursuing a university Transfer Associates of Arts or Associates of Science degree at a different Wisconsin Technical College or adjoining states’ community college.

“We thought it would be a good idea to arrange for these students to have a local opportunity to complete that degree, and frankly, also serve to serve students who would probably love to follow that same pathway, but simply cannot move,” said Ford.

A discussion between Ford and Burmaster at a higher education conference was the impetus of the freshly signed articulation agreement.

“We are all about creating career pathways, which is really nothing more than pathways for students to follow throughout their life and their career to advance their learning, to get better and better, and to learn more and more competencies, to get more credentials to succeed in their life and their work,” said Ford. “By signing this agreement we are stacking one more path, one more opportunity, on top of the associates degree that we will be doing. Those students will now be able to come directly to UW–Platteville and work toward a bachelor’s degree.

“It works out extremely well for all involved. I think by partnering, by leveraging our resources and our unique missions, we can do much for our citizens without adding costs to the people who support us.”

The goal of the new agreement is to retain qualified southwest Wisconsin candidates who depart the district for other, approved transfer opportunities, such as the 125 students Ford has identified.

“This is all about student success, isn’t it? All three of us, as education leaders, but more importantly, all of the wonderful faculty, staff and administration that put this together,” said Burmaster. “This is very, very good for students. Students of all ages, students with all different educational experiences.”

UW–Platteville has 16 articulation agreements in place in Wisconsin, 15 in Iowa and 48 in Illinois. UW–Platteville recognizes associate degrees from all 13 UW two-year colleges plus Nicolet and the Madison and Milwaukee technical colleges. The Nicolet agreement is now in its 10th year.

More than 500 students on the UW–Platteville campus began their secondary education somewhere else before coming to UW–Platteville. Of those 500, 137 earned associate degrees from one of those 76 two-year colleges of which we have articulation agreements.

Might this most recent collaboration open the door for future partnerships between UW–Platteville, Southwest Tech and Nicolet College?

“It is an interesting thing,” said Shields. “We sometimes get criticized because we don’t have these things going on. When people take a closer look, there is a lot more effort to provide the opportunity to coordinate than is immediately obvious.

“We don’t see ourselves competing, but working together, so there will always be an opportunity.”


From “Nicolet offers new evening hybrid classes” – Rhinelander - Furthering your education might seem impossible to add to your already busy life. Nicolet College is trying to make it easier for adults to make it possible. The college now offers evening courses that are a combination of classroom and online classes.

“They get both the benefits of online learning as well as some face to face contact with their instructor,” says Rose Prunty, Dean of University Transfer Liberal Arts.

The classes meet one night a week and the rest is online. These hybrid courses are designed to make education an option for busy adults. “This is really to meet the needs of community members who maybe work during the day, who have all sorts of commitments during the day. So this flexibility allows students to adapt a schedule that works for them,” said Prunty.

There are more than 50 hybrid courses being offered this fall. Classes range from business, criminal justice, and culinary studies.

“I think it’s a way of getting a start. Taking one course and seeing what college is like,” says Prunty.

Class begins August 26th. Registration is open now through the start of classes. The courses will also be offered at the Lakeland Campus.

From “Grant helps Nicolet College manufacturing” – Rhinelander - Rhinelander - Paying for college can be hard.

New grants can help Northwoods manufacturing students get a head start.

Nicolet College got together with five employers to offer assistance grants.

Wausau Paper, P-C-A, Foster and Smith, Hypro and Printpack want workers.

The companies endorsed the Industrial Mechanical Technician Program as a way for students to get a foot in the door. “It’s a great career path. It can be rewarding,” said Trade and Industry Dean, Brigitte Parsons

“It can allow someone to stay in Northern Wisconsin, stay close to family to resources they grew up around. It’s pretty exciting.”

The average starting wages in manufacturing here range from 14 dollars to 24 dollars an hour.

Parsons has high hopes for the manufacturing industry.

“Regionally employers have identified a need for individuals with maintenance repair type of skills to work in manufacturing sector,” Parson said.

“So we can expect to see many jobs in the very near future with our grant partners.”

Fall semester classes will start August 26th.


From “Prepare for an increased demand in welding and fabricating jobs” – Looking for a new career? There’s one job in huge demand in Northern Wisconsin: Welding. To help fill those jobs Nicolet college is working with the Oldenburg Group and expanding their welding program.

Nicolet College’s Dean of Trade and Industry Brigitte Parsons says Wisconsin manufacturers are highly competitive in the world market. They’re getting more contracts, and need more workers.

“We’re seeing continued growth in this industry sector and an increased number of jobs in welding and fabricating and machine tooling,” said Parsons. Oldenburg Group, specifically, will be looking for more welders and fabricators to keep up with demand. “They just got a contract but they haven’t begun employing people yet. So right now is a good time to start thinking about if that’s a job that you might be interested in getting. Now’s a good time to get the skills,” says Parsons.

Nicolet College in Rhinelander offers a 9-month program for welding. They work closely with local leaders in industry like Oldenburg Group, so they’re teaching exactly what employers want you to know. Some of Oldenburg’s employees even teach part-time at Nicolet.

From “Nicolet College tax levy dollars to remain the same” – The Nicolet College Board of Trustees has approved a budget for 2013-14 that keeps the total tax levy for the college the same as the previous year.

The amount levied for the upcoming academic year will total $20,884,373. The new budget also reflects a slight reduction in staffing with a decrease of 1.4 full time positions. Since 2010-11, the college has reduced staffing by the equivalent of 22.2 full-time positions while at the same time making advances in several key academic areas, said Nicolet College President Elizabeth Burmaster.

“Nicolet has been especially competitive in securing new private, federal and state grant funding which has helped fund new initiatives at a time of levy freezes and state general aid reductions,” Burmaster said.

The most significant of these were grants totaling more than $1.3 million to boost manufacturing training. Nicolet is using this money to expand its welding program by 30 percent and also create a series of academic credentials in manufacturing that culminates in the new, two-year industrial mechanical technician associate degree, Burmaster reported.

“Even in these continued tight economic times, the college has been able to find ways to expand key academic programs,” she said. “The advanced training these graduates bring to the workplace will contribute to the overall economic development of the region.”

She also noted that the college’s occupational/technical programs posted an average job placement rate of 90 percent in 2012-13.

From “Nicolet College holds career expo for seventh graders” – Rhinelander - You may not like hunting for jobs. And searching for a career is just as hard, but Nicolet College made the process fun for seventh graders today.

Nicolet College held their first Career Expo at the Rhinelander Ice Arena. About 700 seventh graders wandered through the tables.

“It is so important because I think there are so many great professions in our area that people just don’t know about. And especially at that seventh grade age, they’re just learning about careers and really starting to investigate maybe what direction they want to go,” says Teri Phalin, Nicolet Career Coach. The Expo showed off a wide range of careers from around the Northwoods. There were 42 careers showcased, including photographers, lawyers, EMT’s and many more.

“We have Ponsse who have a really great simulated logging machine. We have Dream Flight. We have PT offices. We have an exercise instructor,” said Teri Phalin.

Even Newswatch12 came out for some of the fun. But it was the students who enjoyed it the most.

“Students are loving this! Every student, I just said, has been walking past me with a huge smile on their face. They’re getting some really great information but they’re having fun while they’re doing it as well.”

Nicolet College Career Coach Teri Phalin said the Expo was a success and hopes to do it again next year.

From “Nicolet upgrades workforce training to boost economic development” – The economic recession of 2008 and 2009 caused a seismic shift in the American landscape. Perseverance, adaptation and resilience were all key to make it through the economic downturn.

“It was a time of dramatic change that happened relatively quickly,” said Nicolet College President Elizabeth Burmaster. “With everything that was happening in the economy, we knew at Nicolet that we were going to have to change how we approached workforce skills training as well.”

The recession deepened and enrollment at Nicolet surged to record levels as the unemployed sought job training for new careers. Employers realized existing employees needed higher skill sets for companies to be efficient and profitable.

“More was being expected of employees and we had to adapt to that in the type of workforce training we provided,” said Sandy Bishop, director of Workforce Development at Nicolet. “Technical skills have always been important and always will be. But along with solid technical skills, we were seeing more demand for employees with what some call soft skills. Knowing how to effectively work as a team, solving problems independently and quickly, communicating effectively, resolving conflict and adapting to change are all skills that many businesses require in their employees.”

Nicolet adapted by placing greater emphasis on these skills in classroom curricula, not only in credit classes, but also the whole complement of short-term, non-credit workforce development workshops that Bishop oversees.

“Employers have raised the bar on what they expect from their workforce,” Bishop explained. “In many ways, it’s like instilling the mindset that every employee is personally responsible for the success of the business. Everyone has to work together responsibly and effectively to be successful.”

Bishop stressed that teaching the latest technical skills is still at the core of what is taught in classes and workshops, and adding this extra level of soft skills was largely driven by what the college was hearing from area employers.

“Nicolet puts a strong emphasis on working in close partnership with area employers and this change is a great example of the effectiveness of these relationships and how the college can adapt to changing needs,” she said.

The numbers show that employers like the training Nicolet offers. Last year, 105 Northwoods employers contracted with the college to provide workforce development training, sending nearly 3,000 registrants to dozens of different workshops, classes and certification seminars.

Entrepreneurship and business development

Another recession-driven growth area for Nicolet has been in the areas of helping entrepreneurs launch businesses, and assisting existing new and small businesses in growing their operations.

“These two areas are key to lifting the Northwoods out of recession and growing the local economy,” said Michelle Madl-Soehren, Nicolet Business Development coordinator. “Many of the new jobs that are being created are coming from small business.”

To help fuel this growth, Madl-Soehren and others at Nicolet have developed a series of laddered workshops that offer increasing levels of instruction and advice for entrepreneurs looking to start a business and those looking to grow an existing business.

In the past year, Madl-Soehren has held 15 Explore Starting a Business workshops throughout the Northwoods to introduce students to the idea of business ownership.

“Starting and building a successful business is a step-by-step process and all the pieces have to be in place in order for any business to do well,” she explained. “In these workshops, we identify the critical components and then work with individuals to help them bring all the pieces together.”

The workshops–which are offered for free–have been held throughout the Northwoods in many different communities including Tomahawk, Minocqua, Eagle River, Crandon, Lac du Flambeau and Rhinelander. More than 50 people have attended these workshops.

As a follow-up for those wanting more detailed business development information, Nicolet recently launched the new 10-session E-Seed Innovative Entrepreneurship Training Program.

“Instruction covers practical, real-world management and planning tools that include all of the basics of starting a business,” Madl-Soehren said.

Specific topics include determining if business ownership is right for each individual, feasibility testing, business concept development, creating a business plan, bookkeeping and accounting systems, and legal issues facing business owners. Expert guest speakers also share their insights on running a successful business. Today, 10 students are enrolled in the E-Seed series currently offered by Nicolet at the Vilas County Business Incubator in Eagle River.

For more information about workforce and business development training opportunities at Nicolet, contact the college at (715) 365-4493, (800) 544-3039, ext. 4493; TDD (715) 365-4448. More information is also available online at Once there, click on the Continuing Education link in the upper right corner of the page.

From ” High School Students Take Advantage of Tech School Credits” – High School Students here in the Northwoods are increasingly getting jump starts on their college careers.

According to Nicolet College, the fastest growing and popular option is through their transcripted credit classes.

The program has seen enrollment jump 75 percent in the past four years. Currently, 461 area high school juniors and seniors are on track to earn college credits this academic year. The program started in 2009 between Nicolet and Rhinelander and Elcho high schools.

The credits earned count towards both a high school diploma and a college degree. The college-level courses are taught in the participating high schools, and range from business and accounting to welding and automotive technology.

In fact to celebrate this growing trend in the entire state, Governor Scott Walker recently named April 30 Dual Credit Day.

Nicolet College President Elizabeth Burmaster summed it up by saying, “This is a fantastic way for high school students to get a jump start on their college education.” She expects the program to grow in the future as more students take advantage of the opportunity.

Statewide, more than 21,000 high school students take Dual Credit classes through the 16 colleges in the Wisconsin Technical College System (WTCS).

From “Nicolet College international study opportunities” – The art of London and the Spanish language and culture of Guatemala will be the focus of two international study opportunities offered by Nicolet College.

During the London Study Tour, Jan. 2 to Jan. 13, 2014, students will visit many of the finest museums and historic sites in and around one of the world’s most culturally-rich cities. The study tour class includes three university transfer liberal arts credits. The cost is $2,718 and includes airfare from Rhinelander, ground travel in London, lodging, breakfasts, entrance to museums and Les Miserables, visits to Stonehenge and Salisbury Cathedral, and travel insurance.

Museum visits will include the British Museum, National Gallery, National Portrait Gallery, Tate Britain, Tate Modern Gallery, and the Victoria and Albert Museum. The tour will be led by Nicolet art instructor Bob Kanyusik, who has taught art at Nicolet for 30 years and led the London Study Tour for 15 years.

For more information, contact Teresa Rose at (715) 365-4625, (800) 544-3039, ext. 4625; TDD (715) 365-4558; TDD (715) 365-4448; or by email at

The Spanish Study Tour to Quetzaltenango, Guatemala, will run Dec. 27, 2013, to Jan. 12, 2014. Participants will immerse themselves in Guatemalan culture and the Spanish language by living with local host families and attending Spanish language classes in the morning, and cultural events and service learning activities in the afternoon.

The four-credit, university transfer language classes cover a broad range of Spanish-speaking proficiency, ranging from no previous experience with the language to those who are approaching conversational fluency. A three-credit service learning class is also available for those who are fluent in Spanish. Students who enroll in service learning will volunteer with the Chico Mendes Reforestation Project, which was initiated in 1998 to contribute to the reforestation of the largely deforested Guatemalan Western Highland Mountains. Activities may include collecting and planting seeds, mixing soil, tilling the ground or other reforestation-related efforts.

The cost for the language class option is $2,690.60. The service learning option is $2,518.95. This includes airfare from Wausau, ground transportation while in Guatemala, accommodations with a Guatemalan family that include a private bedroom, meals, event fees, guided travel excursions, Internet access and travel insurance.

For more information, contact Nicolet Spanish instructor Ocie Kilgus at (715) 365-4540, (800) 544-3039, ext. 4540; TDD (715) 365-4558 or 711 (relay); or by email at

Information sessions will also be held on the following dates:
• Guatemala: Tuesday, April 9, 11:30 a.m. to noon, University Transfer Center, third floor.
• London: Tuesday, April 2, noon to 12:30 p.m., and 4 to 4:30 p.m., Tamarack Center 213.
• London: Wednesday, April 3, noon to 12:30 p.m., and 4 to 4:30 p.m., Tamarack Center 213.

Fall semester 2013 financial aid is available for both classes for students who qualify.

To register for either the Guatemala or London study tour, contact Teresa Rose at (715) 365-4625, 1-800-544-3039, ext. 4625; TDD (715) 365-4558 or 711 (relay); or by email at

From “Nicolet College hosts ‘Return to Learning’ event” – On Thursday night, Nicolet College held “Returning to Learning” an event designed to give adults and others returning to school after being out of school for any period of time all the information they need in order to enroll at Nicolet.

“It’s a great event because they can come to one place and talk to everybody. They can talk to someone about financial aid, career assessment and find out about all the other services we have going on here,” said Nancy Burns, placement specialist and career coach at Nicolet.

This is the fourth “Returning to Learning” event Nicolet College has held since beginning the program two years ago. Nicolet holds the event in the spring and in the fall.

“We try to tailor the event for people who are coming back to school after being out of school for a while,” said Sandy Kinney, executive director of communications and college and community initiatives. “All of the research and studies on people going back is that adult returning learners have different learning concerns than people coming out of high school, so we wanted to do an event that would address what their concerns are and what their needs are.”

Where similar events for high school students are highly structured with presentations and tours, “Returning to Learning” is a drop-in event designed to accommodate the busy schedules of those looking to go back to school.

“Adults are busy. They’re squeezing this in between things, and they need to be able to just come in, get the answers to the questions they need, skip the things they don’t need, and be able to leave again,” said Kinney. “So we set it up in this open time format so people could drop in at the end of the day, after work or after dinner, whatever works for them.”

Kinney said visitors to the event have usually put a lot of thought into going back to school, but they need more answers and information before deciding to enroll. Additionally, the event is a steppingstone for potential students. It begins a dialogue between students and the college, allowing the Nicolet staff to guide the individual through the admission and enrollment process, answering any questions along the way.

“We see people that are serious about coming back to school,” said Kinney. “Research will show that adults typically will take two to three years from the time they start thinking about going back to school to when they actually do it. So we see people at different stages in that process. Some that are just kind of playing with the idea, wondering, ‘What do you have at Nicolet, I know I’m not moving somewhere to go to school…so what do you have?’ and we have that, all the way to people who walk in the door and say, ‘I know exactly what I want. I want to enroll in this program, and can I start this summer?’ So there’s a whole range.”

A variety of Nicolet staff members, including deans, instructors, career coaches and academic advisors, as well as faculty members to help with financial aid and admission questions, were on hand to meet the needs of any individual who stopped in.

Several academic advisors were available to answer questions about coursework, credits and transfer options. The advisors also were able to tell students if they qualified to receive credits for prior learning or work experiences.

Tom Raykovich, a transitions counselor at Nicolet, was available to help answer any enrollment questions potential students might have. Raykovich, who runs the assessment center at Nicolet, said he helps students prepare for placement testing in order to make sure they enroll in classes that match their abilities.

“We take students no matter where their skills are, and we get them where they need to be,” said Raykovich.

This differs from the UW System, where a certain ACT score is usually required for enrollment consideration.

“We test, but just to find out where the skills are, and then we figure out where to place them. It’s an open-door policy,” said Raykovich.

Financial Aid Director Jill Price answered questions students had about financial aid, and gave them advice on how they could pay for college.

“Most of our students, without financial aid, wouldn’t be able to afford college,” she said.”We talk about the options they have and give them information.”

Price stressed to potential students the importance of filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form, which allows students to be eligible for federal grants and loans. She said students often think they won’t qualify for FAFSA loans and grants, but she always tells them that, “They won’t know until they try.”

Kinney said many of the community members who attend this event eventually attend Nicolet .

“What we do see is that out of people who come to this event, a very high percentage end up enrolling,” she said.

Dean of Trade and Industry Brigitte Parsons said the event is about helping potential students find the answers to all of their questions about college enrollment.

“This is a place where they can come and explore, ask questions, find out, ‘How much money will I make if I major in welding or if I major in nursing?’ or ‘How quickly can I transfer to a university?’ so there’s a lot of questions we can answer on a night like this,” she said.

From “Nicolet partnerships with PK-12 districts mean student success” – Every year about 2,000 students take credit classes at Nicolet College. But just as many area elementary, middle and high school students also participate annually in Nicolet activities created just for them.

Earning college credits while in high school, exploring a wide variety of careers, sharpening academic skills, taking in educational theater events and learning about college life in general are just some of the activities.

Key to making these successful has been the strong relationship Nicolet College has built with the eleven PK-12 school districts in the Nicolet College District, said Nicolet College President Elizabeth Burmaster.

“The focus of these partnerships is to prepare students for college so they can get the skills necessary to be successful in their careers,” Burmaster said. “By working together, we’ve been able to smooth the pathway to higher education and make it easier for students to make the transition to college.”

Lakeland Union High School Superintendent Todd Kleinhans said it’s been exciting to see how the partnership between the high school and Nicolet has grown in recent years.

“The partnership today is stronger than ever,” Kleinhans told the Nicolet College Board of Trustees during a meeting the board recently held in Minocqua. “Both the high school and the college have a shared vision that places a strong emphasis on getting students college-ready and career-ready. We are thrilled at how well this partnership has been working and we look forward to making it even stronger in the future.”

In all, Nicolet has in place nearly two dozen different programs, activities and services with all of the school districts within the Nicolet District.

These include:

College in the High School Classroom
Hundreds of Northwoods high school students earn college credits every year without ever leaving their school.

“This gives them a great jump-start on college,” Burmaster said. “By earning college credits while still in high school, they shorten the amount of time they actually spend in college which can translate into a fairly significant cost savings.”

Every year, about 200 high school students earn both high school and Nicolet College credits through the College in the Classroom program. These classes are taught by college-certified instructors in the high schools and include a wide range of academic subjects.

Nicolet also offers a Youth Options program, where high school students take college classes on the Nicolet campus. Currently, 62 high school students are attending Nicolet classes through the Youth Options program.

In the Lakeland and Tomahawk high schools, Nicolet offers Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) classes. So far, more than 50 students have received this professional certification through Nicolet classes held at these locations. This coming fall, Nicolet CNA classes will also be taught at Rhinelander High School.

PreCollege Academies
For the past two years, Nicolet has held PreCollege Academies for high school freshmen and sophomores. Each academy met for five consecutive Saturdays and gave students the opportunity to explore careers and sharpen academic skills in environmental science, engineering and health occupations. To date, more than 100 students from throughout the Northwoods have participated in PreCollege Academies.

Heavy Metal Tour
This past October, about 350 8th grade students converged on the Nicolet campus for the Heavy Metal Tour. The day-long event gave students the opportunity to explore careers in manufacturing and the trades. During the day, students toured six area manufacturing plants, Nicolet labs and classrooms and attended presentations in the Nicolet Theatre to hear from manufacturing professionals about careers in the field. The event will be held again in 2013.

College Camp
This perennial favorite gives Northwoods 6th through 9th graders the chance to explore numerous different careers in fun, hands-on classes held afternoons for one week in the summer.

Examples of classes have included Lake Ecology, Solar Sprint, Sports Engineering, Crime Scene Investigation, Middle School Marketplace, Joining the Geek Squad Can Be Cool, and Rock and Roll 101. The next College Camp will be held in August.

Lego Camp
Engineering, problem-solving and communication skills are the focus of Lego Camp at Nicolet, held during the summer for first through sixth graders. The half-day, week-long event has students building a variety of creations using specially designed Lego kits complete with electric motors. Lego Camp will be held again this coming summer.

The Amazing Race
This past fall, 50 6th through 8th graders from North Lakeland School participated in the Amazing Race on the Nicolet campus. The event had students darting between Nicolet labs and classrooms, answering questions about careers and college at each location.

Campus tours and visits
Numerous times throughout the year, the college invites students to campus to learn what the college has to offer and to give them an overall feel for Nicolet.

Welding, auto tech and carpentry competitions
Every year, dozens of high school students exploring careers in the trades converge on the Nicolet campus to test their abilities in friendly competitions.
Along with fine-tuning their skills, “students also learn what it takes to be successful in these fields and what kind of training they will need,” said Teri Phalin, PK-16 coordinator and career coach at Nicolet. “They see that it takes solid math skills, good communication skills, plus they have to know how to work as a team and solve problems.”


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