As 2013 wraps up, the Board of Trustees of Iowa Lakes Community College met Tuesday afternoon and learned more about the demand for graduates of the Farm Equipment and Diesel Technology program.
Executive Dean Tom Brotherton introduced instructors Dan Bredeson and Troy Kleve who have 33 years of combined experience in the industry working in 'real world' positions. In addition, the program has a lab assistant Tom McGregor, a 2007 graduate of Iowa Lakes.
The program currently has 16 students in the first year and another 16 students in the second year. In addition, there are 11 Career Academy high school students who attend classes at Iowa Lakes.
Graduates of the program are in high demand.
Currently, Bredeson is working with 84 dealerships which are searching for more than two technicians each. Bredeson and Kleve pointed out that many of these employers are offering tuition reimbursement to entice students to get their education at Iowa Lakes. These scholarships range from $500 per semester up to $10,000 and some are offering complete reimbursement for graduating from Iowa Lakes.
Students Dustin Goracz-kowski from Swea City and Ben Degner from Sac City both spoke with the Trustees. While taking classes, Goraczkowski is employed at Deitering Brothers, and Degner works at Ziegler Caterpillar. Each spring, students have class time set aside to get four weeks of work experience.
In addition, the instructors offer students several field trips to expose them to job opportunities at area dealers as well as to gain knowledge of the industry at large. Again this fall, the students were involved in assembling a new Kinze planter for use at the college farm laboratory.
Iowa Lakes has the only program in the state that offers instruction on all farm equipment brands.
Enrollments continue to look good as already there are 15 students who have applied and visited the Emmetsburg campus with plans to start in the fall of 2014.
Another part of the Iowa Lakes Report was an update on grants which will be submitted to the Palo Alto County Gaming Development Corporation. Working in concert with college programs as well as partners such as the Smith Wellness Center and the Emmetsburg Public Library, Brotherton presented five applications to the Trustees for their approval before submitting them to the PACGDC. Proposals include new carpet, paint and re-upholstering at the combined public and college library; snow removal equipment for the Library and Wellness Center; training equipment for the Wellness Center; special fire equipment to be used at the college as well as in local industry and for firefighter training; and, funds to help support the popular vegetable garden. The college and partners will match all grants at 25 percent of the cost.
Also during the meeting, the Trustees approved a proposal for an ongoing early retirement package which would be available annually. College employees who are at least 59 years of age and who have worked at the college full-time at least 10 years would be eligible. In addition, a three-year calendar which is similar to the current college year was approved.
Since Iowa Lakes has a wind turbine, it means the college has Renewable Energy Credits. The college typically sells those credits. For next year, the price paid to the college will increased 25 percent, according to Bob L'Heureux, Vice President of Administration. The Trustees agreed to sell those credits to Element Markets, LLC, at a value of $1 per 1,000 kilowatt hours.
A public hearing was held on the college's 2013 Multi-Jurisdictional Mitigation plan. Delaine Hiney, Executive Director of Facilities Management, reported this plan was designed with assistance from area emergency personnel and the Northwest Iowa Planning and Development Commission. This covers all of the campuses of Iowa Lakes and makes the college eligible to apply for project funding to reduce vulnerability to natural hazards. The plan was approved by the Trustees.
Hiney also gave an update on progress on the remodeling of the Sustainable Energy Resources and Technologies building on the Estherville campus and reported that a proposed sprinkler system for the Spencer campus is moving forward with design work.
Jobs Training Agreement
In other business, the Trustees approved a preliminary 260E new jobs training agreement. In addition, Jolene Rogers, Executive Director of Business and Community Relations updated the Trustees by sharing information on 260F training projects which have been identified so far this fiscal year.
She told the Trustees about progress on the new Pathway Navigator program. Six staff members from the college attended educational sessions in Des Moines where they learned about Sector Boards which will be used in conjunction the Program Advisory Committees to help design career pathways.
"We have identified five areas to pilot," Rogers said. "The pathways serve as a road map for individuals, designed with lots of on and off ramps, all linked to career opportunities and ways to skill up worker resumes and prepare them for the workplace," Rogers said.
And, Rogers reported that year-end donations to the college's foundation will be processed in accordance with IRS regulations, based on their postmark.
The board will gather again next year on Jan. 21, 2014.