Ag students benefit from Kroeplien’s lifelong connection to the industry
Lakeshore Technical College
Growing up on a dairy farm just outside of Sheboygan Falls, Rachel Kroeplien has always had a strong connection to agriculture.
At a young age, she became active in 4H and FFA. Her involvement in the industry grew from there, and she found herself becoming an advocate for the industry she was so passionate about. “I wanted to tell people about the agriculture story after realizing that all my classmates didn’t know about agriculture and how important it was,” says Kroeplien. “That’s when I decided to move on to further my education and work towards becoming an agriculture educator.”
In December 2013, Kroeplien graduated from UW-River Falls with a Bachelor's degree in Agricultural Education and a minor in Agricultural Business. From there she started teaching at the high school level and made stops in Granton, Milton and Oconto Falls educating Wisconsin students about the agriculture industry.
After being away from Sheboygan Falls for several years, Kroeplien was looking to get closer to home. “A position opened at Lakeshore Technical College as an instructor for a brand new program they were trying to get started, Agribusiness Science and Technology,” Kroeplien explains. “I thought it would be a good fit and a good way to get back to my local community and build a program that we didn’t have in our area. They offered me the position and I jumped on board.”
Lakeshore's School of Agriculture at the Wisconsin Agricultural Education Center in Cleveland, WI.
Upon arriving at Lakeshore, Kroeplien was instrumental in developing the curriculum for the new program. “We’re in our third year so we had our first group of graduates last year,” adds Kroeplien. “That was really exciting. Watching it grow has been awesome for us because we’re the ones trying to push the program and trying to make sure we’re succeeding.”
In January, Lakeshore moved much of its Ag programming to a new location with the opening the Farm Wisconsin Discovery Center in Manitowoc County. Currently, all classes for the two-year Dairy Herd Management program are held there as are many of the Agribusiness classes. “Our goal for next school year is to have all of our Ag programming out there,” adds Kroeplien.
Besides being an educator, Kroeplien feels a bigger role at this point is being that of an advocate for agriculture. Kroeplien works with high schools in Sheboygan trying to develop articulation agreements, dual credit opportunities and Youth Apprenticeships. She’s also active in recruitment and working with local FFA chapters to build awareness of technical college programs.
“My biggest thing is that I’m helping the next generation see their potential,” she says. “Our students are constantly communicating with industry reps, and we already have some students that arelined up for jobs at the end of the semester.”