Column: Recounting Riverland’s successes (Part one of two)

Published 12:00 am Thursday, May 2, 2002

The month of May signals a very important time for the college, a time to wrap up many of our year-long activities, wish our upcoming graduates well, reflect upon the past year and celebrate our success.

Our “official” school year begins in July with the beginning of our fiscal year. From the onset, this year has been challenging, more challenging than many in the past. From a possible state-shut down and the tragic events of Sept. 11, to a state-wide AFSCME and MAPE strike to our current budget struggles, we have faced a difficult year.

It is in the face of this difficulty that our true colors have sustained us. I am grateful to say that our high-caliber staff is instructing and shaping the workforce of tomorrow. Our students are diligently working, learning and succeeding and our staff is keeping our operations running efficiently and smoothly.

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Throughout the year, we host numerous activities in theatre, music and athletics to coordinating blood drives, student government events and fun and festive parties like Business After Hours, Spring Fling, the B.O.S.S. Ride and the Gala Event. All of this activity, plus the work of our staff and students, generates countless success stories. The following highlights just a few from the past year.

Student success

– For nine consecutive years, 100 percent of Riverland’s radiography students passed the national registry exam with scores above the national average. The nursing students have excellent national exam pass rates, as well. The RN students have a pass rate of 97 percent; the LPN students are at 87 percent.

– Our Carpentry Technology, Construction Electrician, Masonry and Ceramic Tile Installation students have successfully constructed and wired a home in Austin valued at $238,000. Private bids for the home will be accepted on May 7.

– Volleyball player Melissa Bemis was named National Junior College Division III All American first team.

– The Ag Diesel Mechanics program hosted the Postsecondary Agricultural Student Organization state competition. Four Riverland students competed at the national conference.

– Two Riverland golfers will compete at the NJCAA national golf championships in June. Justin Bennett makes a repeat visit and is joined by freshman Jeff Clark.

– More than 90 students were inducted into the Riverland Phi Theta Kappa honor society, Zeta Eta Chapter.

– We sent 20 students to compete in the 2002 Minnesota SkillsUSA-VICA competition. Three students advanced to national competition in June. Participants included students from the automotive-industrial machinist, carpentry technology, construction electrician, cosmetology, industrial maintenance and mechanics, machine tool technology and truck diesel mechanics career programs.

Program success

– The Automotive Service Technology program earned a five-year re-certification from the National Automotive Technician Education Foundation Inc. (NATEF), a division of the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE).

– Riverland’s radio broadcasting program received four Media Best awards including Best Public Service Announcement in a medium market, Best Commercial Spot in the student division, Best Public Service Announcement in the student division and Best Locally-Produced Specialty Show.

– The Fire Training program held the largest Fire School in Riverland’s history with 556 students attending classes ranging from firefighting skills to advanced leadership skills.

– More and more courses are being offered online to our students and two new certificate programs have been added in the Computer Technology area; Microsoft Systems Administrator and Microsoft Database Administrator.

Faculty/staff success

– Instructors Paulette Clark (Law Enforcement/ Corrections), Lora Low (Business and Office Technology) and Eric Shoars (Radio Broadcasting) were recently named to Who’s Who Among America’s Teachers.

– Gary Thome, a Farm Business Management Instructor, was appointed to the Board of Director of the National Council for Agriculture Education.

– Women’s Athletic Director Lisa Quednow-Bickler and Vice President of Student Affairs Gary Schindler have been selected to serve on the Executive Board of the Minnesota Community College Athletic Conference.

– Counselor Maryann Bush is serving as the editor of the Minnesota School Counselors Association newsletter.

– A paper by Psychology Instructor Barbara Houle will be presented at the Midwestern Psychological Association Annual Meeting held in May. Likewise, Instructors Jackie Fellows and Deb Schnell presented a paper for the Midwest Sociological Society.

Dr. Gary Rhodes is president of Riverland Community College, which has campuses in Albert Lea, Austin and Owatonna.