Write your own Ridgewater chapter!

Ridgewater Stories

So many positive stories begin at Ridgewater! Latest Ridgewater stories.

People’s lives include so many chapters – write yourself a Ridgewater chapter!

Meet students creating their Ridgewater stories in their developing careers, collegiate sports, or fun college life. Check out the variety in this edition:

  • Electrician
  • English and Literature
  • Liberal Arts
  • Meet our admissions reps
  • Bachelor of Nursing program
  • Massage Therapy
  • Carpentry house for sale
  • Spring sports

Students share their stories like this sneak peek:

I participated in the electrician competition three times at Ridgewater’s Skills Fest and have plaques for my second-place finishes each year…. There is an Electrician Club so I’m part of that. It’s a smaller class, so you really get to know everybody. The instructors are so willing to help, even willing to go one-on-one helping with math when it’s tough. Industry is in dire need of electricians, so it’s nice to know there are jobs waiting for me.”
~ Jason Thorstad, Chokio

Creating opportunities, changing lives, sharing stories.

Learn more at www.ridgewater.edu

US Top 20 Online Associate Law Enforcement programs: That’s right, Ridgewater College!

Ridgewater's online program is convenient

Ridgewater’s online program is convenient.

Ridgewater College was not only the first Minnesota college to put its Law Enforcement program totally online among members of the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system, but now, eight years later, it’s also the only Minnesota program recognized as one of the nation’s top 20 online criminal justice associate degree programs available.

The 2016 honor comes from www.onlinecolleges.net.

“Ridgewater College and I understand the necessity for flexibility in today’s fast-paced world,” explained David Clark, Law Enforcement instructor and program coordinator. “At the same time, we want to make sure our students are leaving college with the necessary skill sets to be successful in any criminal justice career…. The online program offers our students the flexibility to learn on their own time from their own virtual classroom while still adhering to course deadlines and providing the skill sets needed to succeed.” It’s ideal for the self-motivated student.

Law enforcement professionals are in the news almost daily as they serve and protect America’s communities. Attaining the highest standard of skills, processes, ethics, communication, and understanding of people has become increasingly critical in a world of global security threats, terrorists and social challenges that are hitting closer and closer to home.

“Law enforcement is a serious career that demands the dedication of students,” Clark stated. “We offer an opportunity for flexibility in the online program, and at the same time, we teach these young adults what they need to know and set these future law enforcement professionals up to win in their careers.”

Mike Kutzke, Ridgewater dean of technical programs, was the Law Enforcement instructor when the program went online. “We started offering it online to broaden the demographic range of students who could enroll, specifically making it more available to people working full time.”

True for William Hansen Begg of Waconia. “It’s been very easy to maneuver the online format. It’s great to be able to still work full time and also go to school full time.”

Second-year student Brianna Korson concurred. “Having the online option makes it really convenient to do full-time school and be a full-time mom.” She has taken classes both on campus and online is looking forward to taking her skills training and test this spring.

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We are Ridgewater College and Why We’re Proud of It!

Ridgewater stories

Ridgewater College highlights students and programs

Personal experiences speak volumes, whether you are sharing vacation memories or product challenges.

If you’re selecting a college, you may not know current Ridgewater students to hear their stories, but several Warriors and alumni are happy to toot the Ridgewater horn. Testimonials are a great way to discover that Ridgewater College is a great fit for you!

“I chose Ridgewater College because it’s an affordable option compared to other schools, plus
it’s a great stepping stone from a high school to a big university.”
~ Carlos Lopez, Jr, Litchfield, Liberals Arts & Sciences – Pre-Psychology and Computer Science

“My decision to further my education at Ridgewater College was based mainly on word of
mouth from two of my cousins and a friend who had completed the NDT program. I chose to
pursue a career in Nondestructive Testing for a few reasons. One of the main reasons is job
security…. Another reason is financial security. It is very important for me to be independent
and able to support myself.”
~ Melanie Landis, Blackduck, Nondestructive Testing

“I chose Ridgewater because I have heard nothing but good about how great the professors are with their students. My confidence has just shot through the roof! They make me feel smarter than I did in high school, and they make me want to push myself further. They have helped me grow as a student and a person.”
~ Tyler Bailey, Stewart, Liberal Arts/Pre-Psychology

“Continuing my education at Ridgewater has been a wonderful experience. It has far surpassed
my expectations…. My experience at Ridgewater is one that has made a major impact on my life. It has shown me in more ways than one that I am going down the correct path career-wise. It has reaffirmed my knowledge about my passion for children and my love of watching them learn.”
~ Kelsa Fenske, Hutchinson, Early Childhood Education

Read more about students and programs in one of our spring publications. Highlighted programs include:

  • Paramedics
  • Electronics
  • Behavioral Sciences
  • New Grants for Technical Training
  • Chemical Dependency
  • Early Childhood Education
  • Healthcare Administrative Assistant
  • Nondestructive Testing
  • Practical Nursing
  • Basketball

Click here to see more!

Ridgewater Veterinary Technology Professor in US Top 40


Cuddle rabbits, revitalize pooches, care for creatures, and learn in one of the top state-of-the-art facilities around!

If you’re looking for a quality Veterinary Technology program with quality instructors, look no farther than Ridgewater College.

Ridgewater’s Dr. Allen Balay has been recognized as one of the top 40 veterinary technology instructors in the country, according to www.VetTechColleges.com .

Job growth in the vet tech field is expected to grow by about 19 percent by 2024, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. In light of the growing need, VetTechColleges.com staff compiled a list of the 40 top vet tech professors nationwide, based on their current teaching assignment, service outside the school, professional affiliation, and publication.

VetTech.com highlighted Balay’s experience, his authoring of online vet tech study tips available to public, and his commitment to the Minnesota Veterinary Medical Foundation.

Career highlights:
• Began teaching veterinary technicians in 1980
• Taught 21 of his 35 years at Ridgewater as faculty and program director
• Balanced practice with teaching for years
• Maintains limited non-teaching time to horse care

“I love my job because of the opportunity to work with young people. I’ve spent most of my life helping young people learn about careers in veterinary medicine either as the veterinarian or the veterinary technician.”

Giving back to his community is what Dr. Balay loves to do.

Learn more about the Ridgewater Veterinary Technology program: www.ridgewater.edu/vettech.
Learn more about the recognition: www.vettechcolleges.com/blog/40-top-veterinary-technology-profs.
See the hundreds of congrats from students: www.facebook.com/ridgewatercollege

Ridgewater Abroad in Costa Rica: A Chance to Study Outside the Box

Students enjoying a coffee break at the Bird Zoo.

Students enjoying a coffee break at the Bird Zoo

View from Jon Wood's Costa Rica backyardBackyard view for a few more weeks.


By Jon Wood, Ridgewater Psychology Instructor, Spring Semester Study Abroad through Education for Global Learning

Stepping off the plane in Alajuela, Costa Rica, I was immediately struck by the sense of anticipation by everyone. Those with whom I traveled were bound for many areas of the country since Alajuela is located in the central highlands. Commuter planes, busses, shuttles, and taxis are preferred transportation to reach the capitol city of San Jose, coffee plantations, and more exotic destinations such as the Arenal Volcano and the Hot Springs, Monteverde with its hanging bridges, Manuel Antonio and its infamous monkey thieves, Guanacaste with beaches and plush hotels, and Guayabo National Monument, the largest archeological site in the country, containing 3,000-year-old aqueducts that still carry water.

Bordered on the north by Nicaragua, the south by Panama, the west by the Pacific Ocean and the east by the Caribbean Sea, this country is home to incredible biodiversity and has the largest percentage of protected land in the world. With the entire country being roughly the size of West Virginia, it is possible to explore much of it in a short amount of time.  From the cloud forests to the rain forests, to the central highlands, to the beaches on either coast, there just seems to be so much to do with not enough time to do it.

Instructor Jon Wood visiting a senior citizen at a senior center in Carrillos Alto.

Instructor Jon Wood visiting a senior citizen at a senior center in Carrillos Alto.

Being a student of behavior, I am most interested in the people, their customs and traditions. From the first cab driver at the airport to every person I have met since, I feel welcomed and at ease. This feeling exists in a country where I know very little Spanish and many know very little English. I had directions to the apartment where I was to stay initially, from one of the Institute’s administrators, Sonia Rojas. She explains that in Cost Rica, one does not find their way in a city of a half a million people by looking for street names and numbers, but rather directions are given in terms of landmarks. Quite literally, if directions include a right turn three hundred meters after the purple bush, and someone decides to cut that purple bush down, the directions would merely be adjusted to include a right turn three hundred meters from where the purple bush used to be. Distance is most often measured in time rather than miles. With many of the roads narrow and containing hairpin turns, it often takes a very long time to go a few miles.

I utilized the economical bus system to traverse the city and beyond – it allows me to interact with the locals. Traveling to the Institute requires me to change busses at a certain point to get to Carrillos, the small town outside of which the Institute is located. Getting there was no problem as I was pretty familiar with the landmarks where I needed to change busses. After living in the area for 10 days and making short trips on the busses, watching the landscape during cab rides, and walking the streets, I thought I had it under control. Coming back that evening in the dark, however, was confusing.

I thought I knew the intersection where I needed to transfer, but coming from the other direction, the stop came quicker than I thought. By the time I realized I missed it and confirmed it with those around me in my “baby-talk” Spanish, it was too far past for me to walk back. I decided to continue on to the central bus station and go back the way I came. I confirmed with my fellow riders which busses to look for, where to find them (each destination has its own bus station) and how and where I need to transfer to get to La Garita, my neighborhood.  As I exited the bus, the young woman sitting next to me, probably about fifteen or sixteen years old, stopped me and explained to me that if I went to a different station than the one I was planning, I could get on one bus that would take me home without having to transfer.  She tried to explain where the station was, but with my limited vocabulary, she realized it wasn’t sinking in. She took my hand and walked me to the correct station about three blocks out of her way to make sure I got on the right bus. I gave her a big hug and thanked her many times. I find that sense of community refreshing and hopeful.

The class I teach in Costa Rica is Psychology of Adjustment. I ask students to try to discover where their belief systems and values developed. Then I ask them to decide whether they are happy there, or if they might consider a change. Spending time here, I have had the opportunity to visit Alajuela, Carrillos, Grecia, La Garita, Atenas, Poas, San Jose, San Ramon, and, Tarrucares. I find that each community has what I can only describe as a feeling about them. Residents from each community interact differently with visitors. They have a pace that differs from one place to the next. They serve variations on similar dishes, and seem to have varying priorities. I began to wonder how customs and traditions of each community developed and what sort of beliefs and values they have incorporated into their familial cultures. Can you say, “Alternate assignment?”  So, the students will not only looking at their values, but working to understand the values of their homes away from home.

Pyschology classroom in Costa Rica

This classroom doesn’t look like anything at Ridgewater!

Costa Rica home sweet home

Costa Rica home sweet home

PSEO Questions? Get Answers Feb. 8 at Ridgewater College

Students anAsk Admissions about PSEOd parents can have sooooo many questions about Post-Secondary Enrollment Options.

What is it? How does it work? Can I handle it? Will I miss fun times at my high school? Will I fit in? Can I still be in high school band? Can I do PSEO just part time? Will college class times conflict with my high school class times? What if I don’t know any other students? Can I take technical courses or just general education?

See? LOTS of questions. You’re not alone.

Rather than let your head keep spinning with all your questions, let Ridgewater College staff and students treat you to some answers. Visit with admissions staff who have seen all kinds of students succeed and sometimes struggle in PSEO. Discover from current PSEO students what helps them succeed and hear their stories.

If you or someone you know is thinking about a possible PSEO experience, let us help you answer the most important question of all: Is PSEO right for you?

Hutchinson and Willmar Campuses: Monday, February 8, 6:00-8:00 p.m.
Go to www.ridgewater.edu/pseo to learn more or to register for the campus you are interested in visiting.

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

Once Upon at Time at Ridgewater…


Ridgewater College has so many stories to tell.

Did you know Veterinary Technology students help find homes for pets? Did you know Multimedia Design Technology students design many projects for community organizations? Did you know students and staff participate in collections to support community assistance programs?

Read more in our first of a series of publications that shares some of our many stories about programs, student experiences, and collegiate life at Ridgewater.

Get to know the Ridge! Click here.

$15,000 donated for 2016-17 Ridgewater Machine Tool students

2U5A1677csIf you’ve ever considered training for a career that’s in high demand but you weren’t sure if you could afford it, now’s a great time to explore Ridgewater College’s Machine Tool Technology. The program is the proud recipient of a $15,000 grant that will directly benefit program students through scholarships for the 2016-17 school year.

Now that’s an industry investing in its future!

“With today’s high demand for skilled CNC (Computer Numerical Control) machinists, it is always wonderful to have dollars awarded to us that we can use to recruit and retain new talent,” said Tammy Jablonski, one of Ridgewater’s Machine Tool Technology instructors.

“The scholarship donation comes from the Gene Haas Foundation in support of technical education scholarships in machining,” explained Ridgewater Machine Tool alumni Al Wessels from Productivity, Inc.  Gene Haas also owns Haas Automation, a California-based builder of CNC machine tools worldwide which is represented locally by Productivity Inc., through its Haas Factory Outlet. “Mr. Haas is dedicated to helping students across the United States get an excellent education and practical training and avoid student debt.”

“Thanks first to the Gene Haas Foundation and second to faculty member Tammy Jablonski for pursuing the grant in an effort to better serve students,” said Ridgewater College President Dr. Douglas Allen. “This is another support for students interested in pursuing careers in manufacturing.”

Top 5 Benefits to Pursuing a Career in Machine Tool

  1. Numerous job openings for traditional and nontraditional workers
  2. Excellent pay
  3. Great benefits
  4. Fast-paced environment
  5. Mentally challenging and satisfying work

To learn more about Machine Tool Technology, click here.

Planning Beats Panicking : 4 Keys to Academic Success

keytosuccessWhew!  The first two weeks of the semester are in the books… only fourteen more to go!

While the first week can be overwhelming, it is usually the easiest!  All your instructors ask of you is to show up, buy your textbooks and supplies, and get started.  It is a few weeks later when your world might feel shaky.

The fifth week of classes is usually when your first paper might be due, your first large tests take place, or when major projects might be assigned or due.  All this… AT THE SAME TIME.  We teachers see major panic starting to occur as “the rubber hits the road”.  Students who were successful before they came to college are cool, calm, and collected.  Those who struggled in the past, or are not used to being completely responsible for their own success, are freaking out!  So what can you do to keep from freaking out under the weight of tests, projects, and papers, plus possible jobs and family responsibilities?

4 Tips for Success All Semester Long!

  1. DO YOUR HOMEWORK. That’s right.  Sometimes simply doing the work assigned can help you be more successful!  Think about something: we instructors love our subject matter and want to share our knowledge, but first, you need some background information.  If you read the chapters you are assigned, the class will be more interesting because you will not simply be reviewing the book material, but you will be going deeper into the subject matter with an instructor who has extensive knowledge and experience in his or her field!
  2. SHOW UP. Not only in class, but also in your instructors’ offices.  I know.  It seems crazy, but coming to class can go a long way to being successful.  When you skip class, you miss important information and activities.  When you come to class, but you still don’t understand the material, show up in our offices.  We are here to help.  We want to help.  We are cheering for you.  Let us help you.  Come in and talk.  See us when you are confused about an assignment, a lecture, a reading, or a class discussion.
  3. PARTICIPATE. Be a part of the class discussion.  Actually, those who participate wholly in the class activities or discussions usually fare better on their assignments and tests.  Why?  Because they are interacting with the material, and they begin to feel more comfortable working with that material.  They are sharing ideas with each other and with their instructors.  These students are more likely to ask questions when they are confused, and to having conversations with the material.  That is right.  Students who participate are figuring out how they connect to the class material to predict where it is leading them, and to translate the material to their other classes.  That is a WIN, WIN for everyone!!
  4. KNOW YOUR RESOURCES. I know, I know.  I just said to show up in our offices, but where else can you show up?  Easy peasy lemon squeezy!  There are many services at Ridgewater dedicated to helping students who “show up.”

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