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

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!

Hampton Wins National Contest with “The Seesaw”

Drew Hampton

Ridgewater Theatre instructor Drew Hampton

A 10-minute play titled “The Seesaw” has earned its author, Drew Hampton, Ridgewater Theatre faculty, national recognition.  The play was named as one of 18 finalists last fall at The Source Festival in Washington D.C.

In 2009, Hampton wrote the “’The Seesaw” as a final project for a Playwriting II class.  2009 was also the first year the play was entered into national competition – making the semi-finalist (top 100) cut.

After a number of revisions “The Seesaw” was submitted for the Source Festival again this past October.  The Source Festival received over 650 10-minute play submissions, which were read by DC-area theatre-goers, actors, directors, and even playwrights of national fame, including Adam Rapp {Red Light Winter} and Moises Kaufman (The Laramie Project and Gross Indecency: The Three Trials of Oscar Wilde).  This committee narrowed down their choices to the top 18 plays, which included Hampton’s work.

As part of the prize package, “The Seesaw” will be professionally produced this summer in Washington D.C.  It will also be featured in Ridgewater College’s upcoming spring production May 2-5, 2012.

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.

Throwing Bales and Programming Computers: Life on the Farm in the 21st Century


Vendor at Ridgewater Career Fair

Traci Seifert with Land O' Lakes discusses career opportunities with a student at the 2012 Ridgewater Ag Career Fair and Technology Showcase.

What do you think of when you imagine a career as a farmer:  Scooping manure? Mending fences? Throwing bales?  Maybe there’s some of that, but as over 300 hig


h school and college students learned at Ridgewater College on Friday, careers in today’s agriculture industry are more technologically advanced and exciting than ever before.

Ridgewater’s 220 Agriculture program students were joined by over 125 high school students from over 13 Minnesota high schools at Ridgewater’s Willmar campus for an Agriculture Career Fair and Technology Showcase.  The event featured exhibits from around 35 industry employers from across the region, who put on seminars for students, talked with them about career opportunities, and even did some interviewing.

While the Ridgewater Ag department has hosted career fairs for their students in the past, this was the first time all the college ag students participated. It was also the first time that businesses had the opportunity to set up trade-show style exhibits, and the first time high school ag students were invited. 

Many businesses were able to talk to the students about the opportunities in today’s agriculture industry, including precision agriculture, seed genetics, advanced livestock feeding systems, and livestock nutrition just to name a few. 

So while your vision of a career in agriculture may include cleaning barns and riding the hay wagon, most of today’s agriculture employees are considering the impact of yield by switching to the latest hybrid seed, or programming the GPS field mapping software on their tractor.  Indeed, the way look at agriculture has changed, but the future of the industry couldn’t be more exciting!

Interested in knowing more about careers in agriculture?  Simply call us at Ridgewater College and we’ll schedule a visit to campus!

Rice Health Foundation and Ridgewater College Team Up to Help Save Lives

Code Blue Team Leadership TrainingYou feel pain in your left arm, the sensation of pressure on your chest, and shortness of breath.  You are having a heart attack.  You are “code blue” to the emergency medical personnel who are on their way to treat you – to save your life.

Heart attacks are the number one cause of premature death in America, and 44.2 percent of Kandiyohi County residents are age 45 and older – an age where risk of heart attacks begins to rise significantly.  We are indeed blessed to have well trained and dedicated emergency medical personnel in our region.

Now, in partnership with Ridgewater College, 200 healthcare professionals in Kandiyohi County are taking their training in cardiac care to the next level.

Thanks to $24,000 grant from the Rice Health Foundation, Ridgewater is delivering its Code Blue Team Leadership training to the Rice Hospital system in Kandiyohi County. Ridgewater Customized Training and Continuing Education has been delivering the CBTL training to healthcare personnel for three years, but this is a first-of-its-kind pilot project that will document the results of a system-wide cardiac care training initiative.

Participating in the training will be Rice Hospital Emergency staff, Atwater Fire and Ambulance, New London Ambulance, Raymond Ambulance, Sunburg Ambulance, Willmar Ambulance, Bethesda Pleasantview, and Rice Care Center.

Code Blue Team Leadership uses a high fidelity simulation manikin to create a life-like cardiac event scenario, allowing health care providers the opportunity to practice, identify, record and evaluate each process, procedure, obstacle, and challenge that they may encounter while treating a cardiac event patient.

“It’s facilitated self-discovery,” notes Ron Flannigan, Ridgewater Code Blue Team Leadership instructor. “We help design a functional work space for each person on the team by eliminating physical and procedural obstacles, thereby helping each person on the team achieve ‘perfection’ per benchmarks established by the American Heart Association.”

The project will deliver thirty-eight 2-hour training sessions, beginning with a mock 911 call, and will involve a complete “full through” cardiac patient session from the patient’s residence to the Basic Life Support ambulance, to the Advanced Life Support ambulance, to the hospital, and finally to the rehab center.  Each step and exchange will be observed, critiqued, and repeated with procedural and process adjustments implemented for each department and individual.  The facilitated adjustments that improve efficiency and effectiveness will be replicated in subsequent sessions.

What is the significance of all this?  Initial results of CBTL training have shown significant improvement in the efficiency and effectiveness of cardiac life support providers measured against benchmarks established by the AHA.  In fact, the stated goals of the project include potentially saving lives and impacting cardiac survival outcomes in our area by 20%, and greatly improving the quality of life for those surviving cardiac episodes. The bottom line – lives are being saved.

Big Weekend for Warrior Athletics

It’s going to be a big weekend of sports for Ridgewater Warrior fans!  Both the football team and the volleyball team are entering playoff season, and things get heated up this Friday and Saturday.

Ridgewater College is playing host to the 2011 Region 13A Volleyball Tournament this Friday and Saturday, October 28 and 29 at the Willmar campus.  The Lady Warriors will take on Western Wisconsin Friday at 5:00 p.m. 

The winners of the semi-final matches on Friday evening will meet in the Region 13A championship game Saturday at 1:00 in the Ridgewater gym.

Also on Saturday, the Warrior football team will be in action in Thief River Falls, playing in the MCAC semi-finals at Northland Community and Technical College. That game will commence at 3:00 p.m.

There’s a lot to be excited about right now with your local college sports teams.  Get out and cheer on your squads to vicotry.  Go Warriors!

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!