Pickles’ Place at Ridgewater is hopping with fun student videos for young children


Reaching out to children in fun, educatPickles Place 12 Haleyional ways is a common goal for students in Ridgewater College’s Early Childhood Education program. How awesome that they get to put it into practice in so many hands-on ways!

Last week students hosted preschoolers for a fun day of singing songs, doing Pickles-flyer-for-TV-timesactivities, playing with puppets such as Pickles, and sharing treats.

If only they could have that much fun every day!

In fact, many of them do at their daycare centers or at home with Mom or Dad, but they can also tune in to see kid-lovin’ Ridgewater students in 24 new videos called “Pickles’ Place”. Pickles has been popular at Ridgewater since 2010 and shown on Hutchinson Community Video Network (HCVN), but it was time for new students, new stories, and new activities. And now they’re available on Ridgewater’s own website!

Videos feature readings and activities of such children’s stories as:
– “Froggy Bakes a Cake”
– “Go Away, Big Green Monster!”
– “One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish”
– “Snow Dance”
– “Harry and the Bucketful of Dinosaurs”

Check them out to see what fun you could have as an Early Childhood Ed student or what fun your own children can have as they see Ridgewater students and Pickles have fun!

“People of all ages love to tell and listen to stories,” explained Ridgewater faculty Cindy Salfer. “Students in the Early Childhood Education program love to share what they know about engaging children in stories and relating them to activities to make the stories memorable. It has been so fun to watch our students grow and to hear the positive feedback from community Pickles lovers.”

www.ridgewater.edu/picklesplace or HCVN Channel 10

Excellent Employees Make an Excellent College!

Several Ridgewater staff and faculty have recently been recognized by the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system (MnSCU) Board of Trustees for excelling in their job duties.

Two Faculty Honored as Outstanding Educators

Two members of Ridgewater’s faculty have been named by the Board of Trustees as Outstanding Educators for 2012. Dr. Allen Balay, chair of the Veterinary Technology department, and Shawn Mueske, Biology instructor, have both been bestowed with this honor.

Nominations for Outstanding Educator were made by students, faculty peers or staff, and were evaluated by a campus review committee before being submitted to the MnSCU Senior Vice Chancellor as Outstanding Educators by Ridgewater President Dr. Douglas Allen.  At the System level, a committee used detailed criteria in assessing Outstanding Educator portfolios and will make final recommendation of four Educator of the Year recipients, who are reviewed and approved by the Board of Trustees.

The Board of Trustees Educator of the Year Award for Excellence in Teaching program evaluates each nominee in the following areas:

  • Teaching strategies and materials
  • Content expertise and professional growth
  • Service to students, profession, institution, and system
  • Assessment of student learning and performance

Ridgewater Finance Team Receives Award

The Ridgewater College Finance team, led by Dan Holtz, Vice President of Finance and Operations and Cheryl Norlien, Director of Business Services, has been named as recipients of the 2011 Excellence in Financial Management Award in recognition of Ridgewater’s leadership and efforts in financial management.

This award is part of an awards program that was put in place in 1997 to recognize leadership and team effort for excellence in financial management and facilities management.  It also recognizes significant contributions and outstanding efforts of special employees at MnSCU colleges and universities.

Other members of the Finance team at Ridgewater include Teren Novotny, Karen Stulen, Shannon Mittag, Christine Gerding, Deb Wiprud, Audrey Harper, Jennifer Loeschen, and JoLynn Kosek.

Student Services Leaders Recognized

MnSCU leadership has also presented a Certificate of Appreciation to Ridgewater College and several key student services leaders for outstanding contributions to the system-wide Students First project, which has been instrumental in improving the student experience in the areas of admissions, financial aid, payment, and registration.

Recipients of this recognition include Kelli Kienitz, Registrar; Sally Kerfeld, Director of Admissions; Cheryl Norlien, Director of Business Services; and Jim Rice, Director of Financial Aid.

Congratulations to all of the recipients of these honors, and THANK YOU!  It’s because of your tremendous effort that our region is home to such a great college!

High School Students Have Opportunity to Explore Career Fields in Ridgewater College to Careers Program

Area high school students have an exciting opportunity to explore potential careers through Ridgewater College’s “College to Careers” program this spring. This is an after-school program and will meet one night a week for three weeks in March/April.

This is a free opportunity available for students made available by Ridgewater College and Carl Perkins grant fund initiatives which focus on high school-to-college transitions for students in career and technical education programs and adult student transitions into high-skill, high wage, or high demand occupations.

The courses will focus on careers in nondestructive testing as well as computers and robotics, and will give students hands-on experience and valuable insight about career opportunities in the industry from instructors.

Courses descriptions and locations are as follows:

Introduction to Nondestructive Testing

Course Description: This course will cover career opportunities and wages for graduates of the NDT program, as well as, an introduction to the principles and applications of nondestructive testing. Topics will include: Certification of technicians, types of defects to be found, and applications of radiography, ultrasound, eddy current magnetic particle and liquid penetrant testing. Students will receive a brief explanation of the methods of testing and perform hands-on testing.

Location: Hutchinson campus Room: 317
March, 21, 28, April 4 (all Wednesdays)
Time: 4:00-6:30 pm
Instructors: Gerry Frie and Wade Padrnos

Introduction to Computer Careers and Robotics

Course Description: This course will explore wages, career outlook, required skills and necessary education for various career paths relating to computers and robotics. Students will learn the basics of interactive computer programming through a two-dimensional multimedia environment. Careers explored include: Automation Engineering, Computer Programming, Computer Support Technician, Network Administration, Multimedia Design Technician and Web Programming.

This course will be offered on the Willmar campus and on the Hutchinson campus.  

Willmar: March 12, 19, 26 (all Mondays) Room: L-110 (Library)
Time: 4:30-7:00 pm

Hutchinson: March 14, 21, 28 (all Wednesdays) Room: 321
Time: 4:30-7:00 pm

Instructor: Rocky Hyberger

For additional information or to apply contact Audrey VanBeck, 320-222-5263 or visit Ridgewater.edu.  Interested students are encouraged to apply early, as enrollment for each class is limited to 15 students.

It’s Almost September 24th!

September 24th is only a few days away, which means it’s almost time for Ridgewater’s 50th Anniversary celebration on the Willmar campus!  We’re very excited, not only for the opportunity to celebrate our legacy and take a look at the path to where we’re at, but for the opportunity to share with the community all the great things we do now, and where we’re headed.

The forecast for the day sounds beautiful, so if you are looking for a great way to get out in the community and enjoy it, this is the place to be!  Here’s just a sampling of what will be happening on campus:

  • Inflatable fun houses for kids
  • Kid games with prizes
  • National Guard climbing wall
  • Alumni art exhibit and reception
  • Live music by Gig Noonan
  • Food, Food, Food!
  • Great prizes – including an Apple iPad 2!
  • Campus tours
  • Classic care “cruise in” – check out some great rides!

If you happen to be an alumnus of Ridgewater, be sure to stop by your former department area.  Many departments are hosting alumni and have some refreshments and special activities planned!

Also, don’t forget about the tailgating party at 4:00 and the homecoming football game at 6:00 p.m., both at Hodapp Field in Willmar.  It’s a full day of fun and excitement! 

A special thanks to major sponsors Bremer Bank and Heritage Bank for helping us pull all of this together.  Remember, the event on the Hutchinson campus is also right around the corner on October 15!

Visit ridgewater.edu for additional details.  We’ll see you on campus Saturday!


Celebrating 50 Years

This year marks Ridgewater College’s 50th Anniversary of providing higher education in central Minnesota.  The institution, which has seen several name changes, mission changes, and mergers over the past five decades originally opened its doors in 1961 as Willmar Community College.  A few years later, it split into two institutions, one offering general education or transfer courses and the other offering technical programs.  In 1967, Hutchinson Area Vocational Technical Institute was founded.  It merged with the Willmar campuses in the mid-1990’s.

Fifty years is indeed a long time, certainly enough to build a strong reputation and a rich history.  The milestone is most certainly cause for celebration. To that end, we’ve been busy planning parties on each of our two campuses – Willmar on Saturday, September 24, and Hutchinson on Saturday, October 15.

Make no mistake, this is not just a class reunion – although several departments on campus will be hosting their alumni.  We believe that the college is an integral part of the region, and want all in the community to come out to campus and see where we’ve come from over the past fifty years, and where we’re headed as we move into the years to come.

Even if you never attended Ridgewater – or any of is predecessor institutions – it’s likely that you have a relative or fried who has.  Given the fact that we know of over 12,000 alumni living in a 7-county region of central Minnesota, it is highly realistic to believe that you have interactions with Ridgewater alumni every day.

The on-campus celebrations will include something for everyone, so be sure to bring out the whole family.  The little kids will enjoy the bounce house and other inflatables, and the whole family can grab lunch from one of our food vendors on campus and take in some live music! The National Guard will be on hand as well with their climbing wall for those who like a challenge.

When you’re here, be sure to take a look around campus.  There will be campus maps available that indicate department activities and the locations of guestbooks – which is how attendees will register for our many great prizes, including an iPad 2!  For those liking a tour guide, we’ll have our admissions reps giving campus tours leaving at the top and bottom of each hour from noon through 2:30 p.m.

And about those department reunions…Watch for additional blog posts throughout the coming days detailing some department reunion activities.  Some of the departments hosting alumni are Auto Body and Auto Service Technology, Agriculture, Veterinary Technology, Photography, Administrative Support/Business, Cosmetology, Occupational Skills, Electronics, and more!

Textbook Rental a New Option for Students at Ridgewater

The fact that college textbooks are expensive is no secret.  In fact, it is quite well documented.  Every semester, students at colleges across the country walk out of college bookstores with a stack of textbooks, having left a stack of money behind.  Judy Meyering, Willmar campus bookstore manager estimates that an average full-time student may be spending up to $500 per semester on books.

Beginning this fall, students at Ridgewater’s campuses in Willmar and Hutchinson will have a new option – texbook rentals.  Choices of available books to rent will be limited, as the campus bookstores want to give it a trial run.  Meyering is planning to offer around 25 common titles (courses) for fall, mainly in liberal arts/general education courses.  The number will likely be similar at the Hutchinson bookstore. 

If all goes as well as planned, the number of available rentals could increase greatly moving forward.

What’s the benefit of renting a textbook?  A savings to students of nearly 50%.  Renting a textbook costs about half of the purchase price of a new book, provided it is well cared for and returned on time at the end of the semester.  Judging by the lines at the book buy back events at the end of each semester, it seems unlikely that many students are planning to keep their textbooks anyway.

Of course, there are some exceptions, but not many.  Books that get used for more than one semester are not available via rental.  While not common, there are a handful of math and science courses that fall into this category.  Also, consumable books are not included (e.g., spiral-bound books or workbooks).  Books must also be available as a rental by the college’s supplier.  Considering that they have over 35,000 titles available to rent, college officials are hoping that won’t be too big an issue.

So, if you or someone you know is planning on taking some classes at Ridgewater next semester, look into the possibility of renting your textbooks.  It could save you hundreds of dollars!

Now’s the Time to Register Kids for Annual Ridgewater Summer Camp

For a week each summer, kids in the Willmar and Hutchinson communities imagine, seek, and explore their opportunities and interests at the Ridgewater College Summer Camp.  This camp is four days of fun-filled adventure for youth entering fifth, sixth, seventh, and eighth grades.  Registration for this year’s camps are now available.

The Hutchinson event will be Monday, July 18 through Thursday, July 21 from 9:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. each day. The Willmar camp is set for the same times but from Monday, July 25, through Thursday, July 28. 

“The Ridgewater Summer Camp is a great place to imagine, seek, and explore a wide variety of career opportunities and interests,” explained Tari Niemeyer, camp coordinator. “The hands-on sessions can help campers decide what courses, careers or interests they would like to pursue in high school and beyond.” 

The events provide numerous fun and educational options. New sessions this year, depending on the camp location, include digital media, biology, history, movie making, food careers, the science of fireworks, various cultures, and musical drums. Back by popular demand will be sessions on car engines and custom graphics, desktop publishing, simple computer programming, health careers, various arts, fitness careers, T-shirt designing, robotics, horse care, dance, theater, culinary creations, general career exploration, and more. 

On the last day of each camp, family members and friends will be invited to join campers as they showcase their achievements. 

The cost of $99 per student (or $79 early bird special if registered by June 10) includes four days (not overnight) of hands-on supervised classes and activities, materials, lunches, a T-shirt, and other items. Early registration is encouraged because class sizes are limited and some sessions fill early. 

The camps are sponsored by the Ridgewater College Customized Training and Continuing Education, Student Success grant, and the West Central Integration Collaborative, as well as Central Minnesota Jobs and Training, and New Discoveries Montessori Academy. 

To print a registration packet or see slideshows of last year’s camps, go to www.ridgewater.edu/summercamp. For more information or have a registration packet mailed to you, contact Tari Niemeyer at tari.niemeyer@ridgewater.edu or 320-234-8540. To register, contact Jone at 320-234-8592 or joan.driver@ridgewater.edu .

Ridgewater Students Take Home Honors at National BPA Conference

Eight Ridgewater students competed at the May 5-8, 2011, National Leadership Conference of Business Professionals of America in Washington D.C. Competitions focus on knowledge and practical application of skills needed in business careers.

 Participants receiving awards in the national competition include:

Brianna Johnson (Willmar) 2nd place, Fundamental Accounting

3rd place, Fundamental Spreadsheet Applications

Finalist, Integrated Office Applications 

Amber Lee (Litchfield) 2nd place, Medical Transcription

2nd place, Medical Office Procedures 

Stephanie Vogel (Willmar) 1st place, Advanced Word Processing Skills 
Makensie Paulsen (Hutchinson) 5th place, Medical Office Procedures 
Michael Nistler (St. Cloud) 5th place, Extemporaneous Speech 
Megan Siegfried (Atwater) Finalist, Advanced Office Systems & Procedures 
Heather Ruplinger (Olivia) 4th place, Desktop Publishing

 Additionally, the Administrative Support Team, consisting of Brittney Spanier (Paynesville), Stephanie Vogel, Megan Siegfried, and Heather Ruplinger placed 3rd in the nation! 

Approximately 5,500 students and advisors from throughout the United States participated in Business Professionals of America’s 45th National Leadership Conference. Activities included general sessions with keynote speakers, business meetings, leadership workshops, contests, election of national officers, and tours of Washington, D.C., sights and attractions! The highlight of the conference was the presentation of the awards to the winners of the national contests. Our opening general session took place May 4 on the lawn of the Washington Monument.

In addition to student awards, Ridgewater BPA Advisor Beth Gravley received recognition for her 15 years as BPA advisor.  Lois Flaig, another accomplished Ridgewater instructor was named in the opening ceremony as one of only two to receive the Outstanding Service Award. 

Business Professionals of America is the leading CTSO (Career Technical Student Organization) for students pursuing careers in business management, office administration, information technology and other related career fields. Visit us at http://www.bpa.org.