Tech College News Archives

“Bridges2Healthcare” grant funds healthcare academy at Western Tech College

One of seven colleges to receive the “Bridges2Healthcare” Grant, Western Technical College hosts a Healthcare Academy which introduces career options in healthcare to those interested.

The four day Academy runs from April 8 through April 11, from 8:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

The Healthcare Academy provides introductions to various career options in healthcare, training, and employment requirements.

The participants are additionally mentored by a Success Coach in communication and study skills, financial literacy, safety, stress management, customer service, and how to stay healthy.

Not only is it a 30 hour introduction program, but the benefits stretch beyond the four days.

Tutors and Success Coaches will be available to participants if they choose to pursue a career in the health field.

“I have seen a huge increase in the need for employees, well trained and prepared employees in the health care field,” said “Bridges2Healthcare” facilitator, Ray Heidel. “The healthcare field is huge.”

The program is partially funded by the nearly $13 million “Bridges2Healthcare” Grant from the Department of Labor, making it free to all those interested.

The grant was awarded to seven colleges in Iowa, Minnesota, and Wisconsin recognized for a growing need in healthcare employees as part of the Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training program.

Those interested must be at least 18 years old, out of high school, and be interested in the healthcare field.

The next Healthcare Academy session is set to take place in June; to preregister for the event, contact the “Bridges2Heathcare” Facilitator, Ray Heidel, at (608)789-6216.

Read more: From wkow.com: "Bridges to Healthcare" grant funds Healthcare Academy at WTC"

New Ingenuity Center hopes to connect unemployed with manufacturing jobs

The Ingenuity Center at Madison Area Technical College is the 8th and final building renovation as part of the 2010 referendum. The center has been open since the beginning of Fall semester, but on Wednesday afternoon college officials held a ceremonial ribbon cutting ceremony.

The ceremony itself showcased the overall goal of the new center. Instead of simply cutting a ribbon with a pair of scissors, the ceremony ended with a student-programmed robot cutting a poly cord. College officials say the poly cord symbolized the more than 50 programs that use the Ingenuity Center to teach classes. Nearly every program uses the material in some shape or form.

“It is 62,000 square feet of lab and classroom space dedicated to advancing Wisconsin manufacturing,” Interim Dean of Applied Science, Engineering and Technology Denise Reimer says.

Business analysts say manufacturing is a growing sector in many parts of the country, one that is experiencing a major gap in employment. Openings are available, but managers are having a tough time finding skilled workers to fill them. They’re workers like single mother of four Rose Appleton.

“I’m excited about what I can learn and what I can do,” Appleton says. “The robotics program and the fact that I will be able to work with metal and program a machine. To do so is just phenomenal.”

After working many years in retail, Appleton found herself unemployed about two years ago. Through a grant she was able to take manufacturing classes and found herself a new job at Evco Plastics.

“Initially they declined me because I didn’t have the manufacturing skills. Once they found out I had the manufacturing certificate I was eligible to start at Evco,” Appleton says.

Not only is the center giving students new opportunities, it’s also causing increases in enrollment. This Spring college officials saw a 6% increase over last year, with signs pointing to more growth ahead.

“This is the answer, is bringing individuals here to give them those job ready skills so that they can go into the manufacturing environment,” Reimer says.

College officials say more than 50 programs will use the center to teach their classes. The space is used for a variety of programs, from automotive to biotechnology.

Read more: From wkow.com: "New Ingenuity Center hopes to connect unemployed workers with manufacturing jobs"

Golf course will become learning lab for FVTC

Winagamie Golf Course has been a second home to Mary Beth Nienhaus for 43 years. Now, the legendary educator, coach, golfer and benefactor has donated the 27-hole facility to the Appleton Education Foundation.

“It’s humbling that Mary Beth would think of the Appleton Education Foundation as such a worthy recipient,” said Julie Krause, executive director of the foundation. The golf course, with an estimated value of more than $2.5 million, is the largest gift the foundation has ever received, she said.

An agreement for Nienhaus, 70, of Appleton to give the golf course to the AEF was finalized at the end of 2013, and was formally announced Tuesday during a news conference at the golf course. The Appleton School District and Fox Valley Technical College are collaborating with AEF to offer local students hands-on learning experiences at the facility — from small-engine repair to horticulture, agronomy, marketing and event planning.

The course will continue to be open to golfers.

Nienhaus, a longtime golf professional at Winagamie, became a partner in the business in 1972. She took over sole ownership in 1993.

She said she had a prospective buyer for the property, but by donating it to the foundation, she will preserve the legacy she’s worked to build. A board of directors will oversee the course’s operations, and it will continue as a for-profit business. Any profits will be set aside for capital improvements to the golf course, Krause said. AEF will eventually receive dividends from the course, and will use them to fund grants for educators in Appleton schools, but no AEF funds will be put toward the course.

This isn’t Nienhaus’ first contribution to AEF. In 1997, she gave the foundation one of its first major gifts — $200,000 for the renovations at Goodland Field. Nienhaus Sports Complex is now home to the Appleton West baseball, softball and soccer teams.

Her relationship with AEF didn’t end there. In 2011, she committed a matching gift of $100,000 to West for improved physical education and athletic facilities.

Appleton School District Administrator Lee Allinger said he isn’t surprised by Nienhaus’ generosity.

“Mary Beth is a person who has this incredible community vision and has really backed up her beliefs with the actions she’s taken over the years,” he said.

The possibilities

Nancy Johnshoy, Winagamie Inc. board president and AEF director, said the foundation thought long and hard about the golf course and how it would benefit local students.

“At first glance, owning a golf course operation may not seem like a natural fit for the Appleton Education Foundation, but as we thought about it and let our imaginations wander, we realized it has a natural tie-in for the school district and Fox Valley Technical College,” Johnshoy said.

Teachers from FVTC and the Appleton School District will collaborate to create learning opportunities for students at Winagamie.

Susan May, president of FVTC and a member of the Winagamie board of directors, said she’s thrilled to see students learning in a “realistic laboratory” at the golf course.

Nienhaus will continue to be involved in golf course operations as a member of the board of directors and through the junior golf academy. When she decides the time is right, Neinhaus will give AEF control of the junior golf academy. The foundation will continue the academy’s mission into the future.

With more spare time on the horizon, Nienhaus hopes to travel more during the summer, to continue volunteering and to play golf.

“I have this wonderful golf course here and I hardly play golf,” she said. “Years ago I used to play well, and then once I turned professional I gave lessons — tons of lessons, thousands of lessons over the years — and, of course, then I couldn’t do everything, so I didn’t play a lot of golf.”

When Nienhaus looks out over the expansive golf course, which opened in 1962, she is reminded of her parents.

“I see my dad (Sylvester) all the time, because he planted over 600 evergreens out here,” she said. “When he planted them they were probably three, four feet high. And now you take a look at them and they’re huge.”

The hard work ethic that drives Nienhaus came from her parents, she said. Her father spent more than 40 years at Kimberly-Clark Corp. and worked part time at Gelbe’s Nursery. Her mother, Mabel, worked a variety of jobs over the years and was employed in the pro shop at Winagamie for a time.

Enviable career

Nienhaus distinguished herself in teaching, golfing and coaching over the years.

She won the Wisconsin Women’s Public Links Golf Association Amateur Championship in 1963 and 1964. The victories helped her become Marquette University’s first female varsity student-athlete: She joined the men’s golf team in 1965.

Nienhaus was the first person to represent Marquette in intercollegiate postseason play. She won the Wisconsin State Golf Association Championship in 1968 and 1969, and was named the Wisconsin Female Golfer of the Year in 1969.

Teaching has been a passion for Nienhaus. She taught physical education at Appleton West High School for 28 years and coached the girls’ golf team for 25 years. During her tenure as a golf coach, West won four state championships. She was named the LPGA Coach of the Year in 1987 — the only high school coach ever to receive the award.

Her passions for teaching and golf led her to start the Winagamie Junior Golf Academy, which teaches the game to children. It’s funded through the Winagamie Golf Foundation and is one of the state’s largest junior golf programs. Even though she retired from the school district in 1999, Nienhaus still logs 80- to 90-hour work weeks during the golf season.

An independent person and trailblazer, Nienhaus is single and has no children. She said people at the golf course often ask where her husband is.

“They think I’m sort of a token owner or something. When I tell them I’m the sole owner I think that takes them back a little bit,” Nienhaus said.

“The cute thing I always say is because I’m so independent if I would have married and had children, then the husband clearly would have been the one to take care of the kids and make the meals and everything,” she said. “Of course, years ago that never would have happened. Nowadays it’s a more common occurrence.”

Read more: From greenbaypressgazette.com: "Nienhaus donated Winagamie Golf Course to Appleton foundation"

NWTC student meets President Obama

GREEN BAY – An international student, studying at Northeast Wisconsin Technical College, has quite the story to tell his friends and family back in Tunisia.

Mohamed Dhib has been in the United States for about ten months.

“It’s so different, it’s not like the U.S. we watch in the movies,” said Dhib.

The movies might be where the story of Dhib’s trip to Washington D.C. belongs. Last week, Dhib went to the nation’s capitol thinking he was meeting with visiting Tunisian government officials.

“We just gave like advice to improve our Tunisian education system through the skills that we’ve learned here,” said Dhib.

After his meeting, Dhib was taken on an impromptu tour of the White House. He was told he’d be meeting the leader of Tunisia.

“They told us the Prime Minister and high level people from the White House, but honestly I didn’t expect it would be that high level,” said Dhib.

While in the Rose Garden, it was as high level as it comes.

“Suddenly somebody said like “oh, hi guys, how are you doing?”said Dhib. “For like ten seconds nobody said anything. We were all like this, and it was the President and our Prime Minister.”

The meeting lasted about fifteen minutes. Dhib told the President he was studying in Green Bay.

“He said, ‘How’s it going there? Do you like the winter?” said Dhib.

While Dhib says he can’t recall all the details, he remembers enough to make his fellow international students at NWTC wish they were there.

“I’m a little bit jealous, because when do you get the chance to meet the President of the United States?” said Felix Winkler, a German exchange student at NWTC.

“He was a practical person,” said Dhib of Obama. “He’s humble. I like him.”

Dhib couldn’t say whether he was more excited to meet President Obama or the Tunisian Prime Minister. He says meeting the Prime Minister is just as rare as an average U.S. citizen meeting the President.

Okuma America Corp and Madison College partner to train machinists, programmers

Okuma America Corporation, a world-leader in CNC machine tool manufacturing, and Madison Area Technical College (MATC), a member of Partners in THINC, today announced their partnership to provide superior CNC education to students. The three-year partnership will deliver high quality hands-on training in service, repair, operation, programming, application and maintenance of Okuma machines as part of MATC’s machinist certificate and degree programs.

Madison Area Technical College will offer training led by NIMS certified, Level 1 instructors on Okuma CNC machines and simulators in the college’s new Ingenuity Center. In addition to providing equipment, Okuma will assist in developing content and programs that are aligned with Okuma’s workforce goals. “We’re pleased to join forces with MATC in CNC education. This partnership will provide a workforce pool to the local industry base that has the skills required to perform CNC related jobs,” said Lisa Rummel, chief financial officer at Okuma America.

Ribbon cutting ceremonies showcasing the Ingenuity Center will be held at MATC on Wednesday, April 9, 2014, at 3:30 p.m.

Read more: From digitaljournal.com: "Okuma America Corporation and Madison Area Technical College partner to train the next generation of machinists and programmers"

Students learn business communications on fast track

As a non-traditional student in Chippewa Valley Technical College’s Business Management program, Jim Voss of Boyd had something of an advantage going into the Speed Networking event held as part of a planning and decision making class. He’s been at ease talking to people for years.

“I just never thought of it as ‘networking,’ ” Voss said. But he’s long understood the value of making business connections through personal connections. It’s something business people do constantly in social settings, but for some, especially young people, it can be difficult.

“You don’t have people waiting to talk to you,” Voss said about those social situations. “You have to go up and meet people.”

Getting some practice doing that was what the Speed Networking event March 31 at CVTC was all about.

The event involved 40 business people, matching the number of students in the class. Students are told to dress for a business setting but are not allowed to bring a resume. Although skills developed may help in job interviews, it is not an interview practice session, but something more informal.

Students sit down with the volunteers and talk for five minutes, then switch tables and talk with a new volunteer, meeting as many of the business people they can in the allotted time. This networking practice prepares the students for the real thing when they attend the Eau Claire Area Chamber of Commerce’s monthly Business After Hours networking session April 14.

The Speed Networking event, now in its seventh year, was developed by now-retired CVTC Business Management instructor Grace Rich, along with Jeff Pepper, who is now associate dean of business.

“It’s for the students to experience networking in a controlled environment,” said Mary Felton-Kolstad, who teaches the class.

Rich recalls that the idea for the event actually came from a student, who noted that one skill he didn’t learn, but needed, was how to talk to people he didn’t know.

Voss was a pressman for Chippewa Valley Newspapers for many years and is now studying business at CVTC in search of a new career after industry changes left him without work. His maturity made it easier for him to converse with the business people, many of whom were much younger than him. Still, he had much to gain from the exercise through meeting a variety of business people.

“One of the things I noticed was the directness and the honesty of the business people,” Voss said. “They all had something to say and offered some pointers.”

A couple of the business people Voss met gave him the names of others he could contact in his upcoming job search. “People that know people – that’s what networking is all about. Where else can you get 40 business people willing to meet with students?”

Student Patrick Seipel of Menomonie shared his desire to own his own business someday with the networking contacts he met.

“I was pretty built up around introducing myself,” Seipel said. “I’d talk about what I want to do the next year or the next couple of years and what I want to build for myself.”

Then he would ask the business people about themselves and their companies, sometimes finding a special connection. His business idea involved production of homemade candies and he heard a couple of tips about certified kitchens where he could get started.

“I made some good connections and a possible job opportunity from one of them,” Seipel said.

The business professionals were happy to help, and also saw benefit in the event for themselves and their businesses.

“I made my calendar open so I could do it,” said Kathy Christiansen, director of Lakeland College’s center in Chippewa Falls. “I thought it would be a great opportunity for me to give back and try to help students feel comfortable. It can be uncomfortable for them to walk up to someone and start a conversation.”

Christiansen was not there on a recruitment mission, but she was aware that some of the students may be interested in going back to school for additional degrees after they graduate from CVTC. “At least they will know we are available. It gave me an opportunity to tell my story. I’m a CVTC graduate who went to Lakeland,” Christiansen said.

Matt Jentile of Fastenal in Chippewa Falls saw the events as a benefit to the students and his company.

“Part of my job as a district manager is recruiting,” Jentile said. We have to get involved with technical colleges and universities and keep our pipeline full. We are growing so fast we want to reach out to students while they’re still in school.”

The Speed Networking event was in a structured setting, but after it was over, a large group of students and business people continued to network, gathering at the Green Mill restaurant and lounge in Eau Claire.

Read more: From chippewa.com: "Students learn business communications on fast track"

Former ag agent touts farm business education

Randy Zogbaum was preaching to the choir.

It was a familiar choir — the Columbia County Board’s agriculture and land and water conservation committee. Zogbaum had been the agriculture agent for the University of Wisconsin-Extension Columbia County before leaving in late November 2008 to be education director for agriculture, natural resources and renewable energy with the Wisconsin Technical College System.

His message fell on receptive ears: Madison Area Technical College is here to help farmers manage the dollars and cents of agriculture.

“Whether you’re a fresh-market vegetable producer or have a 1,000-cow dairy herd, farming is still a business,” Zogbaum said.

Now an MATC agriculture instructor, Zogbaum came to Columbia County on Monday at the invitation of County Board Chairman Andy Ross to talk about a series of farm business classes — each lasting six weeks and offering 24 hours of instruction — that Zogbaum is helping to put together.

Zogbaum is based in Reedsburg, but he said many of MATC’s satellite campuses, including the one in Portage, are expected to offer the classes.

Some of the topics are:

• Understanding the farm business, mainly for people who are new to farming or who are contemplating launching a career in farming.

• Developing a farm business plan.

• Farm business analysis and decision making.

• Farm enterprise analysis and marketing.

• Long-term farm budgeting and management.

Kurt Calkins, Columbia County’s director of land and water conservation, said he thinks classes like these should include education on farmers’ compliance with state pollution control standards.

They will, Zogbaum said — the classes will show farmers the costs of non-compliance, the losses in profit that can result from using more fertilizer than is needed and the sources of financial assistance for farmers who want to (or have to) undertake a costly pollution-abatement project.

Committee member Mike Weyh, who is a farmer, said he was curious about whether the classes would address the sometimes-daunting process of navigating farm markets and determining when and where to sell farm commodities.

That will be addressed in the more advanced courses, Zogbaum said.

He said the classes can be taken sequentially, or experienced farmers can take only the more advanced classes.

Zogbaum said he would not teach all the classes; in fact, MATC is looking for adjunct instructors for the classes, most of which are expected to start this fall.

But some of the people sitting around the table for the committee’s meeting, he said, could play a role in the instruction. For example, Calkins could share information about cost-sharing programs offered by the state through county land and water conservation departments. And representatives from federal offices like the Natural Resources Conservation Service and the Farm Service Agency could show farmers how to tap into resources offered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The cost would be about $240 per course.

Zogbaum said MATC will put out a brochure sometime in the late summer to announce the classes’ schedule and locations where they will be offered.

Read more: From wiscnews.com: "Former ag agent touts farm business education"

Gateway students find careers for women in IT

Obstacles and solutions are a large part of the IT professional’s career choice. Organizations assemble IT staffs to solve business problems. Traditionally, it’s been a man’s world, with women in a decidedly minority role. The IBM midrange community is no different. But last month at the Wisconsin Midrange Computing Professionals Association Technical Conference, a session called Women in IT put the gender topic in a new light.

The role of women in IT is changing. And it’s not changing because we’ve all sat around and waited for change to happen on its own accord. It’s changing because there are people who want it to change and because it’s time for change.

According to the 2013 statistics by the U.S. Department of Labor, 57 percent of professional occupations in the U.S. workforce are held by women, yet only 26 percent of professional computing occupations in the U.S. workforce are held by women. If the number of women in IT careers doubled, it would still fall short of current benchmark for professional women in all categories. Obviously, there is room for improvement.

One person who takes that as a challenge is Beth Akerlund. She was recruited as the keynote speaker for the Women in IT session by Sue Zimmermann, vice president of the WMCPA user group that hosts the annual tech conference for IBM i advocates who take their career development seriously.

Akerlund began her career in IT with a Milwaukee area software company after graduating from college. She moved on to work for Groupon when it was a start-up. There her career experiences expanded as she began working with engineering teams, process improvements, implementing a variety of technologies, and software development. Later she returned to her hometown of Milwaukee, where she is works in custom software development for Centare.

Through a variety of industry networking events, Akerlund became acquainted with women in IT. Their conversations included the need for a women’s network that would provide the platform for meeting, building peer relationships, improving career skills, and provide mentoring to a younger generation of women in computer science as well as other areas of high technology.

As a result of those connections, Akerlund and others launched a Milwaukee chapter of Girls in Tech, a global non-profit organization with 35 active chapters. The Milwaukee chapter’s launch event had 75 attendees. Ten months later, the local chapter membership is 325 and the organization has discovered local business support and support from tech leaders in the greater Milwaukee metro area.

Already in place are programs for conferences, mentoring young girls, mentoring college-aged women, mentoring for women already in technology, a boot camp that teaches entrepreneurial skills, and cultural exchange programs.

One example of a youth outreach program for the Girls in Tech Milwaukee branch is a partnership with Girl Scouts. Another partnership has been set up with the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. “Businesses in the Milwaukee area supportive,” Akerlund said during a phone call with me last week, “and they encourage us (and men, too) to develop a greater interest in tech careers.”

At the WMCPA Tech Conference, the Women in IT session was peppered with stories about inspiration, enthusiasm, and empowerment.

“Sharing personal stories–triumphs and challenges–benefits everyone who hears them,” Akerlund said.

Alison Butterill, product offering manager for IBM i, was one of the speakers at the WMCPA conference. Women in IT and women in business are topics she enjoys talking to women about, she said in an email.

“It’s important for women to establish goals for themselves–pick something to aspire to and strive for that,” she said. “Business is a game and it’s crucial that women learn the rules and key players in that game quickly. Those who do can leverage their natural human characteristics–like being nurturing and collaborative–to advance quickly. It’s also important for women to find a mentor, male or female, who can be a sort of coach for them throughout their career. Women have come a long way in the IT business, but they are still coming into their own and face challenges.”

Karyl Ruiz, a student at Gateway Technical College (one of the most prominent IBM i-oriented schools in the U.S.), attended the WMCPA Conference and the Women in IT session. Ruiz will graduate in May with associate degrees in software development and Web development. She’ll also have two certifications–programmer/analyst and iSeries operator.

“The Women in IT event helped me to see that we don’t have to know everything come graduation,” she said via email. “With experience those gaps would be filled. It also showed that women do hold a strong place in IT and that the way I was feeling up until this event was common among other women just entering into the field. The speakers made me feel like I wasn’t alone.”

Jessica Wagner, a second Gateway student, looked around at the women who attended the session and took note of the variety of ages.

“A lot of these women came into a field when it was all men,” she said in an email. “It can be intimidating to join a field when it’s all men, especially at a time when women were deciding they didn’t want to be in the home anymore and find their own path. Alison gave a lot of really useful information about what to expect in the business world. One thing schools don’t teach is how to interact in business and the importance of acting professional in the way you dress, your hair style, and the way you interact with coworkers and the boss. I also was really impressed with Beth; her wanting to bring more information to the younger generation about this field is important. I think more women like her talking to the younger generation is important to know that this field is no longer for just men and that women can make a difference.”

Akerlund said her focus and the focus of Women in IT is to show women success stories and demonstrate there is an increase in women in computer science and engineering.

“Organizations that are taking the steps to empower girls and women,” she said. “They’re not just saying there is a problem; they’re taking action.”

Additional information on the Girls in Tech Milwaukee branch can be found at the organization’s Meetup page and also on the group’s Facebook page.

Other resources for women in technology provided by Akerlund include: Women in Technology, She ++, The Anita Borg Institute, and Lean In.

Read more: From itjungle.com.com: "What Works for Women in IT"

State offers four-week driving course, guaranteed trucking job

Up to 300 Wisconsin residents will be able to earn a commercial driver’s license in a four-week training course and be guaranteed a trucking job through a program announced Friday by Gov. Scott Walker.

Fox Valley Technical College currently offers the course, and Waukesha County Technical College will offer it this summer. Applicants must pass eligibility screening, and priority will be given to veterans, dislocated workers, workers receiving federal Trade Adjustment Assistance and some persons eligible for programs under the federal Workforce Investment Act.

The training is free for members of the priority groups. Others will pay $2,500. People completing the training will be placed with one of three trucking firms — Schneider, of Green Bay; Roehl Transport, Marshfield; or WEL, DePere.

Read more: From jsonline.com: "State offers four-week driving course, guaranteed trucking job"

Fox Valley Tech College creates body farm for research

Fans of the CBS drama “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation” undoubtedly will take interest in Fox Valley Technical College’s latest venture: the creation of a cold-weather body farm.

A body farm is an outdoor research facility where forensic scientists place animal carcasses and donated human cadavers in various settings — in the open air, in a shallow grave or in a sleeping bag — to study the decomposition of bodies by digestive enzymes, bacteria, insects and scavengers.

The information can help determine the time and circumstances of death, which detectives can use to validate or refute alibis given by suspects in a crime.

Body farms are in operation in Colorado, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Tennessee and Texas, but the FVTC facility will be among the best suited to study the decomposition process in the extreme cold.

Joe LeFevre, chairman of FVTC’s Forensic Science Department, said researchers might conduct experiments on how subzero temperatures mummify body tissue, whether insects inside a chest cavity can tolerate freezing, or whether scavengers like coyotes and foxes lose interest in a frozen body.

“There’s a lot of unanswered questions as to what happens to (bodies) after death,” LeFevre said.

The two-acre body farm will be built as part of FVTC’s $34.8 million Public Safety Training Center on County BB at the south end of the Outagamie County Airport in Greenville. Voters approved construction of the training center in April 2012 as part of a $66.5 million referendum.

The body farm, labeled a “forensic field training” site by FVTC, will be located along the west edge of the property. It lies south of FVTC’s “clandestine grave site” area, where instructors will use animal carcasses and cadavers to train forensic scientists, police officers and police dogs to locate buried remains.

Location worries

A resident living on the east side of the airport has serious concerns with the body farm, which is scheduled to open in mid-2015.

“Are we going to have excess flies now?” Tina LeFevre asked. “Is it going to smell now when the wind blows our way? What about if somebody wants to sell their house and potential buyers find out about that? Wouldn’t they go, ‘Eww’?”

LeFevre said most of her neighbors probably don’t know about FVTC’s plans. The body farm and grave site area were not publicized as part of the referendum.

Apprehension over the body farm is one of the reasons so few of them exist, LeFevre said.

“Not a lot of people want to deal with this topic,” he said. “This is not a happy topic.”

FVTC, though, considers its site to be ideal for a body farm. For starters, it’s connected to FVTC, which is known to law enforcement agencies across the country. It’s also isolated from the public by natural topography.

“This area works perfectly because there’s such limited access to it,” LeFevre said. “You can’t get to this area without being either on airport land or our land.”

FVTC will guard the site with a 10-foot-high fence to prevent curiosity seekers and thieves from entering the facility. The fence will be topped with barbed wire and screened with privacy slats.

LeFevre said nearby residents wouldn’t smell odors from decomposing carcasses and cadavers.

“The prevailing winds will keep them more toward the airport, toward the runway where nobody is, or if they are, they’re in an airplane whipping past at a couple hundred miles an hour, so they’re not going to get that whiff,” he said.

Research facility

FVTC plans to work with a forensic anthropologist at a research institution like the University of Wisconsin or the University of Tennessee to conduct experiments and publish the findings.

“We’d be spearheading the experiments, but we’d be partnering with another school, which would probably do some of the experimental design,” LeFevre said. “There’s a lot that goes into research.”

The body farm will be modeled after the University of Tennessee Anthropological Research Facility, started by forensic anthropologist Bill Bass. The Tennessee body farm is located a few miles from downtown Knoxville.

FVTC will start its experiments with pig carcasses to ensure its practices and security measures are sound before moving to human cadavers. Pigs have body proportions and organ placements similar to humans.

LeFevre said UW-Platteville has done a few short-term experiments with pig carcasses, but it hasn’t published studies.

The FVTC body farm will consist primarily of grassland, but researchers might place a body in a shed, in a car or in an above-ground swimming pool to analyze how the variables affect decomposition. They also might replicate suicide scenarios for study.

While the farm will be primarily a research facility, FVTC will document its experiments with photographs for use in its instructional programs. FVTC has 187 students working toward an associate degree in forensic science.

Student access to the body farm will be limited to guided walking tours.

“They still need to get that odor of death,” LeFevre said. “They still need to see, in the field, what scavenger activity actually does to a body.”

The body farm also will further FVTC’s continuing-education program for law enforcement professionals. LeFevre said the CSI skills taught by FVTC will help not only police from east-central Wisconsin, but from Madison, Milwaukee, Minneapolis-St. Paul and beyond.

“We’d be bringing their expertise up to the next level,” he said. “Right now, we’re just teaching them the theoretical and showing them some photos from a crime scene. With this, we can show them a real decomposing body.”

Cadaver donations

LeFevre said he’s already fielded inquiries from people who want to donate their remains to the body farm. For some, it’s less morbid than having their bodies dissected by the medical community.

“They watch ‘CSI’ and know the way they want to go,” LeFevre said.

Deb Krsnich, a retired Appleton police sergeant, said she would consider donating her body. Before she knew about the FVTC body farm, she thought of sending her arms and legs to a facility in Tuscaloosa, Ala., for use in training cadaver dogs.

Leaving her body to forensic anthropology poses no ick factor for Krsnich.

“I’m not there,” she said. “Because of my Christian beliefs, that’s a body I don’t need any longer, and I’d be doing a service.”

Krsnich, 57, said the only issue with donating her body might be that local researchers, instructors and students recognize her from her police career or from FoxTal, her Black Creek training center for police dogs and their handlers.

“I’m hoping by the time that happens, there’s not too many people who are going to be utilizing the facility who go, ‘Oh, that’s Deb!’” she said.

LeFevre said FVTC will treat cadavers with respect. “This is still somebody’s loved one,” he said.

Read more: From postcrescent.com: "Fox Valley Technical College creates body farm for research"

Pages