A Regional Vision with Life – Changing Impact

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Stara Gleash with instructors Kory Anderson (left) and Rob Behnke

Great anticipation came with the opening of our new Wautoma Regional Center in 2018. Located adjacent to Wautoma High School, the relocated and expanded facility offers several dual credit options for high school students and other programs unique to the needs of that region, including manufacturing, business, construction, and health care.

After meeting with local officials to discuss ways to tackle unemployment in the region, the transportation sector came into play. In 2019, we brought our truck driver training to the greater Wautoma area as a way to offer opportunities for a rewarding career in just 10 weeks to more people. That investment and vision have helped several students hit the road with a new direction, including Stara Gleash—the only woman to complete the program in Wautoma thus far. This single mother was able to take her classes locally while working full-time.

Stara recently visited the College’s Appleton campus with her son, Isaac, to thank instructors and share her passion for driving around the country and getting paid for doing so. Her pathway is a reminder that listening to the distinct needs of our communities often changes a life or two along the way.

Learn more about Stara’s story HERE>>>.

 

Helping Address Worker Shortages in the Aviation Industry

The current aviation job market is at an historical high.  A recent study conducted by Boeing indicates that over the next 20 years, North America alone will need more than 200,000 new pilots and almost as many aircraft maintenance technicians.  As a local example, one of our College partners, Air Wisconsin Airlines, is looking to hire approximately 250 pilots per year for the foreseeable future.  Graduates from our Aeronautics Pilot and Airframe and Powerplant Mechanics programs offered in Oshkosh typically enjoy 100% employment rates within the aviation industry.

In recent years, we have doubled enrollment in the Airframe and Powerplant program by adding an evening option.  And two years ago our staff made several key systemic changes to our Aeronautics programs and Flight Department operations.  These changes, combined with growing industry demands, have yielded significant increases in student retention and new student enrollment, both of which have led to tripling our student pilot enrollments and quadrupling the number of graduates.

Our Board recently approved a strategic investment to support continued capacity expansion and do what we can to help address this industry need.  I’m very proud of how proactive our staff has been in identifying and addressing a challenge, and proud of our Board for supporting this investment.

 

Excited to Dedicate and Open a Campus Partnership Facility

I am truly looking forward to January 22, a day that’s been in the making for several years.  In partnership with Junior Achievement Wisconsin, we will dedicate and open the Community First Career Exploration and Financial Literacy Center adjacent to our Appleton Campus.  This facility has become a reality thanks to the donations and sponsorships of 35 terrific companies, foundations, families and individuals.  We are delighted to name this facility to recognize Community First Credit Union as the project’s lead sponsor.

The interior of this center is set up as a town square with all the “storefronts” sponsored by various organizations and then built out with a wide range of hands-on activities for student engagement and learning. This will serve as a capstone facility for several Junior Achievement and FVTC programs:

  • Biztown – Grade 5
  • Career Exploration – Grades 6-8
  • Finance Park – Grades 8-10
  • STEM – K-12 Teacher Education

Our goal is to serve 15,000 young people each year in this center – where they can gain awareness and understanding of a wide range of career options, of personal finance, and how communities work.  We hope to serve students from school districts all across the 18 county New North region with this unique engagement experience.

Each of the almost day-long capstone experiences will require a team of volunteers to support the activities of the students. If you as an individual or your company/organization is interested in providing a volunteer crew for the day, what a great team building activity and community service opportunity!

You’re invited to a public open house at this facility on January 22, 2020 from 2:00-6:00 PM.  Parking and shuttle service will be available across the street at FVTC’s D.J. Bordini Center for that entire time.  We hope you can stop by to see this wonderful new asset for our region and for our kids!

 

 

Life as a Grandparent

Well, this is certainly a new perspective! Our first grandchild (a girl) was born in August and I’ve now had just over 4 months to try out this new role. All I can say is that it’s unlike anything I’ve ever experienced. Unlike the rather hectic and stressful nature of becoming a new parent, a grandparent can truly relax, enjoy, and appreciate all that a new little life brings…the remarkable transformation that occurs within the first months. I enjoy every moment I have with this precious little one and the personality that emerges more each week. OK, OK, I’ll share a few photos.  

One Graduate Walks Two Stages in Same Year

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I really enjoy the smiles, hugs, and cheers that bring life to our commencement ceremonies each year. It’s hard to capture in words the energy that fills the air as we celebrate the success of our graduates. Our mid-year ceremony coming up on December 20 will be no exception. One of our graduates will walk the stage with an Associate Degree in Business Management just six months after graduating from high school.

Thanks to taking dual credit classes while attending Chilton High School, Macey Pingel was able to finish her college degree at FVTC just a semester later. Her great start in high school is a testament to the value of career pathway planning and dual enrollment – in both time and money. Here is a young woman well on her way to continuing her education and career opportunities with little or no debt six months after finishing high school. It’s quite remarkable for someone to attain both a high school diploma and college degree in the same year. Congratulations and all the best in 2020, Macey!

A Closer Look at Agriculture Today

I’m always amazed when our college forges new partnerships with various businesses and organizations to help advance economic development and the awareness of career opportunities for prospective students. Our latest collaboration ushers in a bit of a new twist when it comes to partnerships in the form of video segments. Since August, Fox Valley Tech has been working with WFRV, local CBS affiliate, to raise awareness of both the challenges and opportunities Wisconsin farmers face, and at the same time highlighting their unique operations.  

Led by one of our experienced Ag Instructors, Jeremy Hansen, is contributing to the “Life on the Farm” series which airs weekly as part of WFRV’s Midwest Farm Weekly. Channel 5 looked to our team of Ag experts to keep a strong tradition of farm news front and center after the retirement of journalist Mike Austin, who told stories about the heartland with the station for more than 35 years.

We are grateful for the opportunity to work with Millaine Wells and her team at WFRV to provide a voice for agriculture throughout the region. You can learn more HERE>>>.

 

Great Opportunity for Entrepreneurial Veterans

It was great to welcome to campus Governor Evers and Secretary Mary Kolar of the Wisconsin Department of Veterans Affairs last week for a check presentation to the FVTC Foundation.  Thanks to the generous support of the WI DVA, almost $100,000 will fund new cohorts of veterans in an “Innovation Accelerator” program offered by our Venture Center.  This program is designed to provide entrepreneurial training and technical support, networking opportunities, one-to-one mentoring and seed funding for start-up/growth expenses for veteran-owned businesses.

We are very pleased to be able to continue our partnership with the WI DVA this year in offering Innovation Accelerator to more veterans.  Over the last two years, 37 veterans have completed this customized entrepreneurship training, a group that has gone on to launch 25 successful new businesses and expand 8 existing businesses.

Recently, I crossed paths with one of those businesses – Iron Alliance – which focuses on all aspects of personal health and well-being, including organizational cultures and how leadership factors into a work culture.  Iron Alliance is owned and operated by a couple of very impressive young men trying to make a real difference in people’s lives.  They asked me to be part of their podcast series.  Check out their website at https://www.teamironalliance.com.

And if you’re interested in listing to my Iron Alliance podcast, here’s a link:  https://www.fvtc.edu/news/Story/college-president-on-leadership