West Central Blogger

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Wishes revisited: what came true in 2008

The West Central Blogger thought it would be fun to look back at this past January and the 2008 wishes for west central Minnesota made by WCI staff and folks from around the region. It was good to see that some of these wishes came true or strides were made.

Marsha Erickson, WCI program assistant, wished for "access for young children, whether is be for dental care, mental health care or finding a loving place to call home." Since January, the Early Childhood Dental Network and Apple Tree Dental's mobile dental outreach clinics have expanded to all of the counties in west central Minnesota, and plans are being made for a permanent Apple Tree Dental clinic in Fergus Falls. Also, this year four counties have initiatived early childhood mental health coalitions with the help of WCI and the Early Childhood Initiative.

Marsha also hoped for a strong winter tourism season to boost the local economy. With December's record snowfall, local motorsports stores are reporting record sales. It could be Winter 2009 will be a banner season for snow-related activities.

Nancy Straw, WCI president, wished that communities in west central Minnesota take steps toward becoming recognized as one of the most environmentally green areas in the U.S. In 2008, the Otter Tail Ag Enterprise's ethanot plant came online. The University of Minnesota Morris's biomass gasification facility has been built and is being tested. Barnesville was chosen as a "green leader" by the League of Minnesota Cities. Some initiatives that took off in 2008 included the Bag Lady Project and Savetimes3.

Nancy also hoped an Italian restaurant would open in Fergus Falls. That dream became a reality with the opening of Bello Cucina this past fall!

Sheri Holm, WCI communications director, wished that the redesign of WCI's Web site would be complete and that an online social network for west central Minnesota communities would be launched. While that didn't happen in 2008, both of these things will become reality in January of 2009! Stay tuned!

Now, dear readers, what are your wishes for 2009?

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Some virtual Yuletide cheer for you and yours

Every year our coworker Kathy takes a week off in December to do some serious Christmas baking. The WCI staff eagerly await the following week when platters of delectable goodies appear--and then quickly disappear as we gobble them up! These cookies and breads are but a distant, delicious memory now, but we offer up this virtual bounty to you in the seasonal spirit of giving. And just think, no calories!

Each of us at WCI has our favorites. What's yours?

Monday, December 22, 2008

They've got school spirit--and the fervor to raise funds

A couple of community groups are working hard to help make up their school districts' projected budget shortfalls by using WCI component funds.
The 549 Family Foundation launched its "More Than Nothing" campaign in support of the District 549 Perham-Dent School system. It encourages local families, businesses and organizations and 549 alumni to make a voluntary donation to the school district.  Take a look at the foundation's many fundraising ideas.
Pelican Rapids school alumni are banding together to create a new component fund for their own fundraising campaign. The alums are contacting all graduates from the past 50 years to ask for their support. For more information about donating to the Pelican Rapids School Fund, contact Kim at WCI at 800 735-2239, or kim@wciforg.  

Friday, December 19, 2008

Nonprofit Leaders: Start New Year out right (and smart) with Nonprofit Leadership Institute

Nonprofit leaders: in these troubled economic times, you and your organization are being called to lead. You're likely being asked to do more with less; and you're wondering how to work smarter, not harder. To help you in this effort, the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits invites you to participate in the 2009 senior manager cohort of the Nonprofit Leadership Institute.
The deadline for the institute is Friday, January 9. Scholarships are available for tuition and participants from Greater Minnesota may also be eligible for travel reimbursement . Learn more about growing your leadership with MCN and apply today!
P.S. Want to enable your staff to grow their leadership, too? MCN also hosts a Nonprofit Leadership Institute for strategic connectors - staff that connect your organization to your clients, donors, funders, volunteers and allies. Learn more about the strategic Connector cohort today. An informatonal Webinar for strategic connectors will be held on January 14, and applications are due Friday, February 13.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Sponsorship encourages female students/grads to attend WINDPOWER conference

Each year, Women of Wind Energy awards a number of sponsorships to female students or recent graduates to attend the annual American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) WINDPOWER Conference and Exhibition.

The Rudd Mayer Memorial Sponsorship program encourages the participation of women, particularly students and recent graduates, to attend the WINDPOWER 2009 conference, with the ultimate goal of increasing their knowledge and participation in the many areas of the wind energy industry. The conference offers the recipients the opportunity to attend seminars on current wind energy issues, see exhibits on state-of-the-art technology, meet distinguished women professionals working in wind energy, and talk with leading employers offering internships or permanent positions.

The application deadline is Friday, Feb. 27, 2009. Read more and download application.

“FastTRAC” to healthcare careers now available for CNAs

Certified Nursing Assistants (CNAs) in west central Minnesota who are interested in advancing their healthcare careers but want to be better prepared for the academic coursework now have help through a new program.

The West Central Minnesota FastTRAC (Training, Resources and Credentialing) program will offer a pre-nursing course at two sites: Minnesota State Community and Technical College (MSCTC)—Detroit Lakes and MSCTC—Fergus Falls. The class is for individuals who have completed the CNA or pre-CNA training and want to prepare to enter more advanced college credit healthcare programs. Classes begin in February.

This course was developed jointly by MSCTC and Adult Basic Education (ABE) with input from local healthcare providers. The training targets those entering nursing or other classes, and includes units in reading, writing and math, as well as instruction in college readiness and workplace "soft" skills.

If you would like to learn more about the pre-healthcare course or West Central Minnesota FastTRAC, please email Judy Suiter, Fergus Falls ABE Coordinator, or call her at 218-998-0544, ext. 1602.

Keep holidays simple for younger children

We all love to see the wonder and excitement in children’s eyes during the holidays, but often little kids can get as wound up as the toys they receive. Preschool education writer Rachel Lister compiled this list of tips to keep this special season sane for both young children and their families:
  • Focus on family activities. Most preschoolers love the gift of time more than anything else. Enjoy the season by planning simple activities that take time, like decorating the Christmas tree and making cookies. Let toddlers hang ornaments and play with cookie dough. It’s about taking pleasure in each other’s company in an unhurried fashion.
  • Limit gift giving. Gifts are great, but for preschoolers they can sometimes be too much of a good thing. Young children are big on instant gratification. They want to play with their new toy right away. Giving them too many can make them frustrated and lose interest in the whole gift-giving process. Try to limit the amount or space out the gift giving so it doesn’t become overwhelming for them.
  • Decorate your home for the holidays. Little children have a limited sense of time passing. Decorating for the holidays helps them understand they’re entering into a new season. Preschoolers love decorating and it can become a valuable and much-loved family tradition.
  • Lower your own stress level. When family members are stressed, little children can feel it acutely. Slowing down and scheduling less for the holidays helps toddlers and parents alike enjoy the season more.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Three cheers for our young leaders

The Moorhead area and surrounding communities have some great young leaders. That's one thing attendees at the Moorhead community breakfast wanted us to know. Case in point, this year's Fill the Dome student-led food drive surpassed its goal and raised $57,735 and filled the Fargo Dome with 67 tons of food.

"People tell us you can't do anything, you're just kids. But we have to do something," said Moorhead High School senior Lauren Blanshan, a member of the Metro Student Council Ambassadors that helped lead the project.

They sure did something. It's great to hear stories like this about youth in our region stepping up to lead, especially since we often hear about how hard it is to find leaders. That's why more and more communities are working to grow leadership from within. Through leadership programs, they are encouraging more residents to take on the mantle of local leadership by helping them develop the skills and confidence they need. Plus, by constantly replenishing the leader pool, communities are avoiding the dreaded leader burnout.

Read more about leadership in the September FOCUS.

Learn about WCI's leadership development grants and leadership diversity grants for communities.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

What are you thankful for, west central Minnesota?

"I am thankful to be able to live and raise my family in a small town, and to be surrounded by people with similar lifestyle desires."  Chuck Johnson, Director, Perham Economic Development Authority

"I'm thankful for my family and the spirit of the holiday season." Laurissa Stigen, Executive Director, Central Minnesota Area Health Education Center
"I'm thankful that I get to spend Thanksgiving surrounded by family and friends. I'm grateful that they and loved ones I can't be with are all well this holiday season. I'm thankful that I get to play games all day long (in between the eating, of course)! And I'm thankful that they make medication to help me with my cat allergies since my gracious Turkey Day host has three kitties." Sheri Holm, WCI Communications Director
"In this tough economic time, I am thankful for what I do have . . . a healthy, happy family, a great job and a place to go home to at the end of the day. The downturn has forced me to reevaluate my priorities. Although difficult, sometimes we need to do this." Marsha Erickson, WCI Program Assistant

Add your voice to the thankful roster. Just click on "comment."

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Good morning, Moorhead!

This week WCI traveled to Moorhead to meet with the city's leaders, business people, nonprofit reps and educators over a breakfast buffet.

Moorhead is the largest city in west central Minnesota. Even though it's smaller than its sister city, Fargo, it's more than holding its own.

Moorhead boasts a strong and diverse economy. Housing is booming. It has an unbelievably strong educational system, from preK all the way to higher ed, with lots of community education and lifelong learning opportunities. It has five colleges--five!--that enriches the city in ways other communities would love to emulate. New Americans are finding a peaceful place to call home, thanks in part to the melting pot created by the diverse students from many countries attending school.

Being the largest city in west central Minnesota brings its challenges, as well. There is a large influx of homeless, including youth. There are waiting lists for childcare assistance, Head Start openings and the senior food assistance program. Transportation, especially special mobility transport, is getting to be a challenge as the city grows and the population ages. The lack of childcare is at a crisis stage. More and more people are using social services as they look for help with escalating energy and food costs. The same colleges that are providing so much to the vibrancy of the city are bracing for the impact the economic downturn will make on endowments, donations and grants.
Still, the city knows how to collaborate to tackle issues and create opportunities. The EDA and the City of Moorhead have some exciting plans for business development, including creating a business outreach position to work with new and existing businesses, and collaborating with Minnesota State University Moorhead to develop a wet-lab facility that can be used as a business incubator through scientific research. Organizations like the Lakes & Prairies Community Action, the Metro Youth Partnership, Early Childhood Alliance and Mujeres Unidas work with the schools and the city to reach out to children from the youngest on up, to make sure they grow up healthy and whole.  And groups like the Immigration Development Center and Community Ed are providing opportunities for New Americans to use and expand their skills and knowledge as they learn to make their home in the Moorhead-Fargo area.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Frazee Friday

WCI staff traveled north last Friday to learn about all things Frazee at a community breakfast. Community leaders, public officials, business owners, residents and other members of the community met at the Frazee Event Center, which has become an important gathering place for the Frazee area.

What are some of the great things about Frazee? It's location, for one. It's close to nature and outdoor pursuits, close to good highways and close to services. It's a safe environment, with 24-hour fire and police departments. The schools are good. The residents are community-oriented, generous and interested in community vitality. It's a good place for all ages to live and work.

Are there any challenges, then? Sure. There's a lack of housing, for one, so many workers actually live in neighboring Detroit Lakes and other surrounding communities. Business owners live out of town, and seniors often retire to other communities.

Residents wish there were ways of bringing more people into town. It can be hard, with only one restaurant and no hotel. There are some great shops downtown, and some wonderful annual events, like the upcoming Festival of Trees on Thanksgiving weekend. The group brainstormed additional ways of attracting people, including more specialty stores, more restaurants and public art like murals.

The group also talked about redevelopment of the old Swift plant that was torn down and the property prepared for commercial development--including adding a brand new street (a street naming contest is being held by the City of Frazee. Entries are due Dec. 1!). They discussed the pros and cons of an industrial park.

After the official meeting was over, many stayed to talk, eager to keep the conversation going. The group decided to convene regular meetings and set the next one for the third Friday in January. If you live or work in Frazee and are interested in attending, contact Lori Thorp at Community Ed at lthorp@frazee.k12.mn.us, or call her at 218-334-2525.

Friday, November 7, 2008

WCI welcomes Tom McSparron, donor services officer

West Central Initiative is pleased to introduce our newest staff member, Tom McSparron.

Tom joins WCI as donor services officer. He is responsible for making sure our donors receive the best possible service, as well as helping culivate new and prospective donors to the unrestricted endowment fund and the 69 component funds administered by WCI.
Tom brings more than 20 years of professional fundraising experience to WCI. Most recently he served as director of development for the North Dakota 4-H Foundation for seven years. He is an active member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals.

Feel free to stop by the WCI offices and greet Tom. But don't worry if you can't. Tom's traveling schedule is filling up quickly. He'll probably be in your area soon!

Brush up on your winter driving techniques

West Central Initiative is committed to improving the quality of life in west central Minnesota, which means keeping you safe is a priority! That's why we're passing on MnDOT's recently released helpful reminders for winter driving. Seems like we all have to relearn this every year. And don't forget to put together that winter survival kit to keep in the trunk. Time to stock up on batteries, candles and high-energy snacks (I recommend granola bars--the plainer the better. Otherwise it's too tempting to sneak out to the garage and eat your entire "high-energy snack" stash during those personal crises that only chocolate can soothe--not that I'm speaking from personal experience. SBH).

Monday, November 3, 2008

SJE-Rhombus receives award for international trade success

SJE-Rhombus, Detroit Lakes, was one of nine Minnesota companies to receive the 2008 Governor's International Trade Award from the Minnesota Trade Office.

The employee-owned company manufactures pump and motor controls for the water and wastewater industries. Thanks to an aggressive expansion strategy, the 240-employee company has sales and operations in 27 countries.

"These companies, many of them small firms, show that you don't have to be a major corporation to sell your products and services in foreign countries," said Tony Lorusso, executive director of the Minnesota Trade Office. "Thanks to these and other firms, Minnesota is on track for a record year in manufactured export sales."

Minnesota's manufactured exports reached a record $4.4 billion in the second quarter of 2008, led by sales of computers and electronics, and followed by machinery, transportation equipment, miscellaneous products including medical devices, and food products.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Learn more about regional renewable energy grants and opportunities

The Board and Staff of the Minnesota Renewable Energy Marketplace – Alliance for Talent Development (MNREM) invites you to an informational meeting to hear more about opportunities to develop regional talent for renewable energy, value-added agriculture, agri-bioscience and supporting industries.

The meeting is scheduled for Friday, November 14, 8:30 AM at West Central Initiative, 1000 Western Avenue, Fergus Falls.

The MNREM Board will be awarding grants to fund innovative concepts for addressing the talent development needs of transforming the region from primarily agriculture-dependent to a knowledge and innovation-based economy that capitalizes on the region’s strength in agriculture and renewable energy. At the meeting, MNREM staff will discuss the Request for Proposal process, what to expect, and the application process.

Applicants must be based in one of the 36 MNREM counties listed below, however, that does not preclude partnerships and inter-regional collaborations that extend beyond those 36 counties.

MNREM Counties: Big Stone, Blue Earth, Brown, Chippewa, Clay, Cottonwood, Douglas, Faribault, Freeborn, Grant, Jackson, Kandiyohi, Lac qui Parle, Lincoln, Lyon, Martin, McLeod, Meeker, Murray, Nicollet, Nobles, Norman, Otter Tail, Pipestone, Pope, Redwood, Renville, Rock, Sibley, Stevens, Swift, Traverse, Waseca, Watonwan, Wilkin, Yellow Medicine

For more information, contact Teresa Kittridge, MNREM Executive Director, at 952-454-7211 or teresa@mnrem.org.

Or check the Web site at  http://www.mnrem.org/.

An early assembly in Alexandria

WCI staff headed to Alexandria and the Broadway Ballroom on Oct. 29 to learn the area's latest news and most pressing issues at a community breakfast.
Alexandria looks at itself as a regional center. It is well situated, not just in the state, but in the Upper Midwest. It is a manufacturing, healthcare and shopping hub. Many workers in Alec come from surrounding towns, so there's a symbiotic relationship between neighboring cities.

Alexandria is a giving place, too. The community comes together to successfully raise funds and awareness for many causes. There's an active Chamber of Commerce and healthy economic development. Alexandria Technical College is a real asset to attracting and retaining new people by offering custom training and lifelong learning opportunities. Businesses and organizations work together to bring in world-class speakers and trainers in order to become world-class themselves.

There are concerns. There's a lack of affordable housing in the city. There's also a disparity in the preparedness of young children who are entering school. Many aren't ready to begin kindergarten, and it becomes more difficult to catch up as they grow older. Educating parents is an important step to getting help as early as possible for the children who need it.

There's a need for an industrial park with the necessary infrastructure for businesses to start up or expand in Alexandria.

There's a change in diversity in the area. A survey conducted by the Diversity Resource Action Alliance (DRAA) found that many residents are uncomfortable with change. DRAA is bringing people together in social settings, like the Heritage Fest, as a way of helping folks learn more about each other in an informal, relaxed environment.

Then there are all these giving opportunities, which is great. But, are the older volunteers burning out? Are younger people too busy to join service groups or hold leadership positions for charitable organizations? The school district is working to raise up the next generation of leaders by requiring volunteer hours.

Finally, agriculture--food and renewable energy--is a very important sector in the area. Money is going out of the region to invest in renewables. What can be done to invest ag-based businesses locally?

Monday, October 27, 2008

A plan to obtain, train and retain workers in small communities

excerpted from WDAY-TV, Fargo

After years of staff leaving for new jobs in bigger districts and then trouble filling those positions. Some rural schools are trying new and unique programs to attract and keep people. In Lisbon, ND, the district has a plan to save staff money and provide a better education to both students and staff.

Could this idea work in your school district? Could this work in other work places in your community?

Friday, October 24, 2008

Meetin' at Wheaton

Anyone driving through downtown Wheaton bright and early on October 21 could see something was happening at the Country Corner Cafe. About 35 residents, business people, nonprofit representatives, public officials and community leaders filled the cafe's community room to enjoy a hearty breakfast and to talk about their town at the WCI-hosted community meeting.

WCI holds these breakfast gatherings throughout west central Minnesota each year. It's a way of learning more about the area and the issues that people are talking about. Here are just some of the highlights:
What did folks like best about Wheaton? The good people, a family friendly atmosphere, an excellent school system and a good hospital.
What were some of the concerns? Duebers variety store closing, young people leaving town due to the lack of good-paying jobs, few opportunities for young people to socialize in a healthy way, no local food source.
What were some ideas generated by the group? Come together regularly to talk about issues and create a plan for action. Find more ways--like the pool renovation and the early childhood mental health coalition--to bring families together for fun and education in Wheaton. Consider starting a local food co-op. Start up businesses that cater to young people. Consider a community-owned wind energy co-op.
The breakfasts have been a good way of generating discussion in our region. WCI staff plan to head to Alexandria, Moorhead and Frazee in the next few weeks to stir up a little more conversation!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Dream It. Do It.

"What are you interested in pursuing after graduation?"

That question strikes fear in the hearts of many high school students--at least those who don't want to be crime scene investigators (Thanks, CSI).

Dream It. Do It. is a new campaign by the National Association of Manufacturers that encourages young people to look at an amazing array of job opportunities.

The Dream It. Do It. Web site has a cool online career toolkit that includes a dream career quiz, a career calculator and even a business card designer (see the graphic)!

Local organizations are working to bring Dream It. Do It. to Minnesota. In the meantime, share the Web site with the young people in your life. It just might open up some awesome career avenues for them.

Hats off to Minnesota manufacturers

It's Minnesota Manufacturers' Week, Oct. 20-24.

Here in west central Minnesota, we're awfully appreciative of the overall impact manufacturing has had on the region's economy. Back in the 1980s, when the farming and mining industries were in sharp decline, it was manufacturing that helped provide jobs for the region. West Central Initiative, with generous support from The McKnight Foundation, worked--and continues to work--to help manufacturers start up and expand their businesses, and train workers to do their jobs better and more efficiently.

In the last decade, west central Minnesota's manufacturing wages have steadily improved, and, in the last few years, although economic growth has been relatively flat in the state, west central Minnesota's economy has grown, thanks in part to our active manufacturing sector.

So, hats off to you, area manufacturers!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

It's fun to be cavity free!

Participants at the "Cavity Free Kids" train-the-trainer workshop on Oct. 13 at the WCI offices found out that teaching good oral hygiene to kids and families doesn't have to be boring. The day's training was filled with hands-on projects, skits and role-playing that can be used to help pass along the message that taking care of one's mouth is an important first step toward overall good health.

The event was sponsored by the Early Childhood Dental Network and Delta Dental of Minnesota. The "Cavity Free Kids" curriculum was presented by Delta Dental.

Created with Admarket's flickrSLiDR.

Monday, October 6, 2008

New York Mills named RUPRI "Entrepreneur of the Month"

The RUPRI Center for Rural Entrepreneurship has named an entire town its "Entrepreneur of the Month." RUPRI recognized New York Mills for its entrepreneurial spirit in turning rural arts and culture into economic development.

Read about New York Mills.

RUPRI works to stimulate and support private and public entrepreneurship development in communities throughout rural America.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Donna's world

Donna is the smiling face people usually first see when they visit West Central Initiative, and the friendly voice people first hear when they call. She also has quite a talented and discerning eye when it comes to photography. Take a peek into Donna's world through the slideshow at the upper right of the blog.

Donna tells a funny story about the ladybug shot (or whatever ladybug-like insect it is). She was so intent on getting the image just right, she followed that one ladybug around with her camera for the longest time. It wasn't until she got the shot and looked up from the viewfinder that she saw the bush was filled with ladybugs!

Thanks for sharing your photos with us, Donna.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Career discovery from outer space to out your backyard

Area students in 7th-9th grades will have a chance to talk to an astronaut and tour some of the many industries in the Fergus Falls area on Thursday, Oct. 16 as part of Career Discovery Day.

The daylong event kicks off at MSCTC-Fergus Falls with a keynote audio hook-up with astronaut Karen Nyberg, who flew the space shuttle this year. From there, students and parents will take field trips to some of this region’s key businesses in technology, energy and healthcare.

The $5 tuition includes bus transportation from the college campus to sites in and around Fergus Falls, plus a sack lunch featuring local food products.

And kids won’t even miss a day of school.

"We chose October 16 because kids will have that day open because of their MEA break," says Cary Bergo of Rural MN CEP, Fergus Falls WorkForce Center, one of the organizers of the event. "Kids can choose a discovery track in the areas of technology, healthcare or energy and see not only how things are made, but get to meet the people in those jobs. And we’re not taking them away from school; on the contrary, we hope parents will find this to be valuable learning time for their kids."

Parents are welcome to spend the day with their child exploring this area’s business and industry leaders. Tours and presentations will be given by StoneL, Otter Tail Power, Sara Lee, Vinylite, Otter Tail Ag, Thiele Technology and Lake Region Hospital. Students choosing to take the Healthcare discovery trail will also be introduced to the Fergus Falls - MSCTC Nursing Program’s SIM man.

Space is limited so early registration is suggested. Students in 7th, 8th and 9th grades within about 30 miles of Fergus Falls are eligible.

Register your child (and yourself!) and learn more.

This exciting event is made possible through a workforce development pilot project grant by the West Central Initiative.

WCI welcomes Greg Wagner

The WCI staff and board are pleased to welcome Greg Wagner as our new ecomonic development planner. He will be assisting communities across west central Minnesota with economic development and community development issues. As part of that work, he will help communities apply for federal economic development funding and will share best practices in community planning and development.

Greg is a hometown boy--he grew up in Fergus Falls. He has a
Bachelor of Arts degree in local and urban affairs from St. Cloud State University. Most recently, he served as planner for the booming town of Baxter, Minn., so he has plenty of experience working with developers, residents and public officials.

Feel free to stop by WCI to meet Greg. But don't worry if you don't; he plans to start visiting area communities soon.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Put U of M-Morris students to work for your community!

The "Connecting Students and Communities" (CSC) program provides a University of Minnesota, Morris undergraduate student to help local units of government, K-12 schools, or community-based organizations in the areas of research, project administration, or other support. Students benefit from working with different organizations and learn ways to complete project goals.

The program is offered by the Center for Small Towns (CST) at the University of Minnesota, Morris, and the University of Minnesota West Central Regional Sustainable Development Partnership to 12 west central Minnesota counties -- Big Stone, Chippewa, Douglas, Grant, Kandiyohi, Lac qui Parle, Pope, Renville, Stevens, Swift, Traverse, and Yellow Medicine -- are encouraged to apply. The deadline to apply for this free assistance is November 7, 2008.

Priority is given to projects that include:
  • Community-based renewable energy
  • Local and healthy foods
  • Healthy landscapes and water

  • Natural- and cultural-based tourism

  • Economic development

  • Other project areas will also be considered.

The student will be available for up to 10 hours a week during Spring semester from January 20, 2009 (or the time of student hiring) through May 8, 2009.

Download the CSC application online at the Center for Small Towns web site.

Deadline for the application is NOVEMBER 7, 2008. For more information contact Jessica Beyer at (320) 589-6451 or jbeyer@mrs.umn.edu

Friday, September 19, 2008

Make it safe (and cool!) to walk to school

Few kids walk or bike to school any more.

In 1969, approximately 50% of children walked or bicycled to school, with approximately 87% of children living within one mile of school walking or bicycling. Today, fewer than 15% of schoolchildren walk or bicycle to school. As a result, kids today are less active, less independent, and less healthy. As much as 20 to 30% of morning traffic can be generated by parents driving their children to schools, and traffic-related crashes are the top cause of death and major injury for children in the U.S. ages 1 to 17.
Safe Routes to School is a new program in the federal transportation bill, SAFETEA –LU, designed to improve the conditions and quality of bicycling and walking to school. The goal of the program is to reverse the 30-year decline in the numbers of children walking to school and reintroduce opportunities for regular physical activity.

The Minnesota Dept. of Transportation has Safe Routes funds available for schools with any combination of K-8 enrollment to make infrastructure improvements, such as bike racks and sidewalks, and for noninfrastructure programs such as developing Safe Routes Plans, enforcement, and promoting biking and walking to and from school. Learn more.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Growth opportunities for area businesses

Check out these great upcoming opportunities for businesses:
  • Have you wondered how you can sell your product to the government? If you have, consider attending "Introduction to Government Contracting" Oct. 13 at MSU Moorhead. Learn more or register online.
  • The Small Business Development Center in Moorhead is presenting "The Seven Habits of Small Business Owners" on Oct. 16-17. Learn more or register online.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Funding available for area transportation enhancement projects

The West Central Minnesota Area Transportation Partnership is seeking applications for the 2013 Transportation Enhancement Program, which has approximately $600,000 available for eligible projects in Mahnomen, Clay, Becker, Wilkin, Otter Tail, Grant, Douglas, Stevens, Traverse, Pope, Big Stone and Swift counties. Projects require a 20 percent cash match.

Eligible transportation enhancement projects are:

  • Pedestrian and bicycle facilities
  • Pedestrian and bicycle safety and educational activities
  • Acquisition of scenic or historic easements and sites
  • Scenic or historic highway programs, including tourist and welcome centers
  • Landscaping and scenic beautification
  • Historic preservation
  • Rehabilitation and operation of historic transportation buildings, structures or facilities
  • Conversion of abandoned railway corridors to trails
  • Inventory, control, and removal of outdoor advertising
  • Archaeological planning and research
  • Environmental mitigation of runoff pollution and provision of wildlife connectivity
  • Establishment of transportation museums

Information on the Transportation Enhancements Funds, including a guidebook and fact sheets on the 12 eligible activities, can be found at: http://www.enhancements.org/.

Learn more.

Friday, September 5, 2008

The employment potential of older workers

Employers are getting nervous. Their Baby Boomer workforce is heading toward retirement en masse. And new and younger workers aren't getting trained in fast enough. Plus there's a shortage of workers in many industry sectors. What's an employer to do?

Find creative ways to retain older workers a while longer or hire even more older workers are a couple of solutions. Plus, make sure the vast knowledge and skills they have are passed on to the next generation of workers.

These are the issues and ideas that will be presented at "The Employment Potential of Older Workers: Recruitment, Retention and Knowledge Transfer" on Sept. 22 in Fergus Falls. The event will be held 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at the Bigwood Event Center, and the $10 cost includes lunch.

The event is sponsored by the Labor Force Development Council of west central Minnesota.

Visit West Central Initiative's Web site for more information and to register.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Do you know where your public officials/candidates stand on early childhood issues?

Shaking hands and kissing babies: that’s the old adage about campaigning. But politicians need to do more than kiss babies to make an impact on the lives of our young children.

It’s important for all of us to know where incumbent officials and candidates stand on issues of early child care and education. For starters, you can go online and view national, state and local voting records at http://www.votesmart.org/. Even if you don’t have young children in your life, remember that these tender souls comprise the future of this country—they will be our workforce, our entrepreneurs, our doctors, our members of congress, our ambassadors to the world. Don’t they deserve to have the best start in life so they can become healthy, productive citizens?

Here in Minnesota, we’re usually ranked fairly high in our level of care and education for children, compared to other states. And yet, about 12 percent of our children live in poverty. More than a quarter of our children’s health care is covered by government assistance or isn’t covered at all. About 57 percent of three- and four-year-olds aren’t enrolled in any pre-school education program, and 27 percent of our fourth graders are scoring below basic reading levels. (Statistics from www.everychildmatters.org/).

It just goes to show, every state needs to be diligent when it comes to caring for our littlest ones. We cannot and must not neglect their rights locally or nationally. But they cannot speak for themselves. We need to step up for them.

Sept. 16 is Step Up for Kids Day. It’s a non-partisan, nationwide event to draw attention to issues affecting America’s children. Events are happening in every state and in Washington D.C. In Minnesota, an event will be held in Duluth. But consider promoting Step Up for Kids Day in your own community, as well. Learn more at www.everychildmatters.org/, or call state coordinator Jen Rison at 612 219-0215.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Here comes the sun ... flowers

August is a beautiful time to drive through west central Minnesota. The countryside is breath-taking. You'll see industrious farmers out combining wheat right now. You'll go by the tall corn and green rows of soybeans and sugar beets. And, every so often, you'll come across acres of gorgeous sunflowers, like this crop northwest of Fergus Falls.

Free workshops for at-risk homeowners

West Central MN Communities Action, Inc., is holding open houses throughout west central Minnesota for homeowners struggling to make house payments. The Open houses offer confidential meetings with non-profit foreclosure prevention specialists who will answer questions and provide an assistance that may be available. All of the events will be held from 5-7 p.m., and no registration is required.

August 25: Glenwood, Senior Nutrition Center, 107 S Franklin St.

August 28: Alexandria, Maritime Museum, Unicel Room, 205 3rd Ave W.

Sept. 4: Wheaton, Senior Center, 1025 Broadway Ave.

Sept. 11: Morris, Morris Council Chamber, 603 Oregon Ave.

Sept. 16: Alexandria, Maritime Museum, Unicel Room, 205 3rd Ave W.

Sept. 30: Elbow Lake, Elbow Lake COmmunity Building, Sanford Room, 341 Central Ave S.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Scenes from Wheaton

Created with Admarket's flickrSLiDR.

A few WCI staff members traveled to Wheaton, Minnesota on Aug. 12 to conduct interviews for Traverse County's new early childhood mental health initiative. While there, they took some photos of downtown Wheaton and a wonderful new mural painted with Valspar paint received through the Picture It Painted Program.

Several local citizens volunteered to be interviewed about their perceptions on early childhood mental health and the services and information available or needed for area children and families. The interviews will be used to form a plan of action for the county.

The Traverse County Early Childhood Mental Health Component is made possible by an award from the PrimeWest Community Health Reinvestment Grant Program.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Group Workcampers paint a brighter picture for Traverse County residents

Nearly 400 young people and volunteer leaders from around the country spent a week out of their summer to help paint and repair homes in Traverse County. (See slide show upper right!) Participants of the Land of Lakes Group Workcamp provided helping hands at many area households on low or fixed incomes that may not qualify to receive services from any other source. Many of the owners are not physically or financially able to make needed repairs to their homes.

Along with painting, the crews of 5-6 workers constructed porches and wheelchair ramps. They typically worked 7- to 8-hour days on 51 projects throughout Traverse County, Herman and Donnelly.
The workcamp was coordinated by the West Central Minnesota Communities Action, Inc.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Adventures in renewable energy--Ethanol

Renewable Works! is putting out a series of brochures on Minnesota careers in renewable energy industries. In addition, the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities (MnSCU) system has information on education and career ladders for jobs in the renewable energy sector to make career planning a whole lot easier.

Take a look these Ethanol career pathways.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Planning grant puts regional economic development and growth FIRST

The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) has announced another round of Framework for Integrated Regional Strategies (FIRST) grants to help regions plan growth and economic development.

DEED will accept applications through Aug. 27 for four grants of up to $50,000 each. The awards will be announced Sept. 12.

DEED created the FIRST grants after a series of listening sessions around the state last year showed that many regions lacked a coordinated strategy for long-term growth. FIRST grant funding will help public officials, educators, business executives and other community leaders work together to create an economic blueprint to guide future growth.

Learn more about FIRST grants.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Northern Connections opens doors to a better life for those struggling to make ends meet

David wanted to work. The single dad from Waubun had been pounding the pavement for a long time looking for steady employment. But the doors weren't opening. Then he got a letter from Northern Connections in Perham. They wanted to help him any way they could to find and retain a good job. David couldn't believe it. He called right away. Now, David is in a six-week program to become a machinist--something he's wanted to do since high school. "I like to work with my hands," he said. Upon successful completion of the training, he'll get help finding employment. David is on a career path.

David recently told his story to the attendees of Northern Connections' annual meeting. Now two years old, Northern Connections is becoming an Upper Midwest model for providing free, voluntary one-on-one assistance to low income individuals, most of whom are just getting off some form of state assistance. Northern Connections helps its clients overcome barriers to employment and job retention. It provides tools and resources for asset accumulation and career advancement. Staff do a lot of hand holding, and walk clients through a lot of situations, like getting a credit report, writing a resume, buying a car, opening a checking account and enrolling in school. The amazing thing about Northern Connections is interaction is entirely by phone.

David summed up what Northern Connections does. "It helps people who want to get out of the rut they're in." Then he added: "I want it better for my children."

Monday, July 21, 2008

Having a blast at the Baseball Bash

Created with Admarket's flickrSLiDR.

What's the best way to celebrate the region and the people, communities, businesses and organizations WCI works with that help make west central Minnesota so great? Have a party at a fun regional event, of course!

WCI rented out the Tastefully Simple Terrace at Knute Nelson Memorial Stadium in Alexandria (home of the Alexandria Beetles) on July 19 and invited folks from the nine-county area to enjoy ballpark fare and an evening of camaraderie and baseball (see photos above. Or go to our Flickr site to see larger photos).

The Pope County Men's Chorus--which includes former WCI Board Chair Ralph Lang--sang the National Anthem. Five-year-old Connor Wood from Brandon, whose family is involved in the Brandon Early Childhood Initiative, threw out the first pitch.

Throughout the evening the guests swapped WCI trading cards in order to enter a drawing for one of five $100 grant awards to the regional nonprofit of their choice. And kids designed their own signs to cheer on the Beetles, who won 7-5 over the Green Bay Bullfrogs. Go, Beetles!

Most guests stayed until the very end, some asking as they left: "Where are you holding the party next year?" Anyone have any suggestions? Let one of the WCI staff members know!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Nature puts on a show

The WCI offices are located at the prairie's edge, just where it meets the gently rolling hills of lake country. Our location gives us a front row seat to summer storms as they move in from the Dakotas. We gather at our office windows and watch Nature's drama unfold as black, ominous clouds in swirling, otherworldly shapes roil their way across the sky, and the daytime turns suddenly dark as night.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

(Paper) hats off to kid ingenuity!

Created with Admarket's flickrSLiDR.

Pete Morsch, communications and mentorlink coordinator for Metro Youth Partnership, sent WCI the best thank you recently, accompanied by some great photos of a recent event. Here's what Pete said about RiverArts:

The Metro Youth Partnership (note the name change--you might remember us as the Moorhead Healthy Community Initiative) and our Early Childhood Alliance have benefitted from the support of the West Central Initiative for years now, working toward sound social and emotional development for all young kids in our area.

Last week, we provided activities for young kids (and grown-ups too) at RiverArts, a monthly arts and entertainment gathering put together by Moorhead Parks and Recreation. As you can see by the photos, the kids ate up our simple newspaper hat recipe. Watching the creativity and ingenuity at work is a real trip, and of course we got the parents in on the fun as well.
Prairie Public television brought in Maya and Miguel characters to life (with the help of our VISTA volunteer and friends), and the kids just flocked to our booth.

Thanks, WCI, for putting kids first, and supporting the ongoing work of non-profits like Metro Youth and the Moorhead Early Childhood Alliance.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Resources to help families make ends meet

Rising grocery prices. Pain at the gas pump. Home foreclosures. These days the economic news isn't good for families.

Families are having to make adjustments in many areas of their budget. Sometimes economic stress can result in short tempers and lack of communication. The University of Minnesota Extension has resources that can help families not only with strategies to help manage family resources but also to improve communication--especially with children--in tough economic times.

Just some of the topics include:
  • Adjusting to Suddenly Reduced Income

  • How Kids Can Help Mom or Dad
  • Staying Resilient in Times of Change

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Be proud of what you did on your summer vacation

Are you wondering what to do on your summer vacation? Would you like to do something different, something that would make a real difference in people's lives? Consider helping out at this summer's Group Workcamp, a unique community service event, locally sponsored by West Central Minnesota Communities Action, Inc.

During the week of July 21-25, 2008, more than 400 church group kids from across the country will make Wheaton High School their headquarters as they paint and repair approximately 50 homes in Traverse County during the week.
The workcamp is encouraging church groups, service organizations, local businesses, individuals and families to take part. There are several volunteer opportunities, from community coordinators to painters to kitchen help. In addition, individuals are needed the week before to help set up for the volunteers. Visit the workcamp's Web site to learn more.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Fergus Falls learns a thing or two about social media

Folks from Fergus Falls and the surrounding area learned last night that "Twitter" is not the sound a bird makes, and "mashup" isn't what you do to your potatoes--at least not on the Web.

Participants of the blogging and social media workshops held at West Central Initiative on June 23 broadened both their vocabulary and Web 2.0 knowledge. The workshops were presented by Tim Erickson from E-Democracy.Org.

Erickson encouraged the group to consider how they could use some of the online tools to engage their communities. He shared sites that were doing just that, like Locally Grown Northfield and new york mills mn. He also encouraged participants to look at how they can share their interests, concerns and info with others through blogging. Some examples include Lida Farm, Travels with Children, Bluestem Prairie, oh, and West Central Blogger, of course!

Tim also recommended these fun, short "how-to" online videos:
Blogs in Plain English
RSS in Plain English
Social Media in Plain English
Wikis in Plain English
Online Photo Sharing in Plain English

Finally, here is Tim's list of things to keep in mind when starting/keeping a blog (in a nutshell):
  1. Figure out who your audience is.
  2. Keep it personal.
  3. Read other blogs.
  4. Link to other blogs.
  5. Post regularly.
  6. Just do it.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Pelican Rapids says "Welcome!" in many languages

Tamales, tostadas, eggrolls, sambusa ... and lefse, of course! That's just some of the potluck fare people enjoyed at Pelican Rapids' International Friendship Festival, June 20-21. People lined up for the international smorgasbord, then sauntered across the flag-festooned suspension bridge to listen to music in the park and view several multicultural displays. Along the main street, stores displayed decorated chairs out front, each saying "welcome" in a different language. If you didn't get to Pelican Rapids this past weekend, the town's 125th anniversary and its annual Turkey Days is just around the corner, July 11-12.
Interested in finding out about more festivals around the area? Explore Minnesota's Web site lets you search by region.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

DEED takes the show on the road

The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) hits the road this summer for a series of informal discussions throughout the state. The road crew will present a DEED overview--which includes a legislative sessions wrap-up, a new infrastructure application process and workforce innovations--and training on the "new" JOBZ (Job Opportunity Building Zones).

DEED will be rolling into west central Minnesota on July 10 at the Minnesota State Community & Technical College--Fergus Falls; 1414 College Way; Legacy Hall. Their plan is to present the overview from 9 am - 12 noon and hold the JOBZ training from 1- 4 pm.

Learn more.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

NonProfits: Meet the funders at Funders Forum, July 24

Eleven regional funders are slated to present at the Funders Forum, Thursday, July 24, 8:15 a.m. - 3:15 p.m. at the Fargo Holiday Inn, 3803 13th Ave. S. Funders Forum gives nonprofit organizations the opportunity to learn more about the funders in our area, the initiatives they fund, and to ask questions.

The event will also include two break-out sessions. "What Gets Measured Gets Done!" will outline why measuring outcomes and indicators is so important, how to get around terminology issues, and how to use findings to help your program. "SOPPADA: The Secret Formula to Grantwriting," will demonstrate how a good grant proposal must not only meet the requirements of the funder, it must be "sold" to reviewers and the project must be sustainable after funding ends.

There is no cost to attend, however please pre-register by e-mailing your name and contact information to: registration@areafoundation.org Please indicate "Funders Forum 2008" in the subject line. Bring a business card for easy check in! Questions? Call 701-234-0756 ext 28

Want to learn more? Download the brochure!

Friday, June 6, 2008

GIS takes to the air

The June meeting of the Pine to Prairie User Group included a demonstration of the Otter Tail County GIS Department’s Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV). It's used to take aerial photography for various county and city projects in Otter Tail County. The county also has the capability of using it for search & rescue missions.

Here's a video of the demonstration.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Free blogging and social media workshops in Fergus Falls on June 23

Do you live around the Fergus Falls area and have been itching to learn how to blog and/or discover the many ways to engage your community using online tools? Then sign up for these two free workshops, Monday, June 23 at West Central Initiative, 1000 Western Ave., Fergus Falls. "Blogging in Your Community" will be held 3-5 p.m., followed by "Online Community Engagement and Social Media" from 5:30-7 p.m. A light supper will be served between workshops.

Blogs are a powerful online tool for individuals or organizations to share information and connect with others in their community. In the "Blogging in Your Community" workshop you’ll see examples of some of the best community blogging or citizen journalism projects in the country. The workshop will also walk you through the process of setting up a blog for yourself or your organization. You’ll learn about good content for your blog and how to promote your blog to others with shared interests. Wireless access is available, so feel free to bring your laptop.

"Online Community Engagement and Social Media" will be held 5:30-7 p.m. Online tools offer many new opportunities for individuals to connect with their neighbors to address important local issues, tell their shared story to a larger audience, or share important information with each other. This 90-minute workshop will include an online tour of some of the most interesting and innovative community media projects across Minnesota and provide innovative examples of how individuals are engaging with their communities online. The workshop will look closely at online local issues forums, community blogs and various examples of community journalism. It concludes with a discussion about how some of these tools might be used in your own community.

Both workshops are free, but registration is required. Please register by June 20 by calling 218-739-2239 or by sending an e-mail to sheri@wcif.org.
The two workshops are presented by E-Democracy.Org as part of its Rural Voices project funded by the Blandin Foundation. E-Democracy.Org is a non-profit, non-partisan organization that has been building and hosting online community forums since 1994, with ongoing projects in the US, UK and New Zealand.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Alexandria helps "Awake the Lakes" to open the summer season

After a long winter and fairly non-existent spring, folks around here are itching to get out and enjoy the beauty and fun of the region. Summer is spectacular in west central Minnesota.
Alexandria starts the season off right with an Awake the Lakes festival that lasts all Memorial Day weekend. On Friday night, Big Ole watched over hundreds of people who enjoyed the annual Ribfest and the rockin' rhythms of Big Walter Smith and the Groove Merchants, and Whiplash.
What are your favorite regional summer events and activities? Share them with the West Central Blogger!

Friday, May 23, 2008

Pondering pedal power plans? Peruse CentralLakesTrail.com

The West Central Blogger is always looking for regional treasures that span the length and breadth of west central Minnesota. The Central Lakes Trail is a perfect--and quite literal--example. This 55-mile, 14-foot wide paved path runs straight through the heart of lakes and prairies country, extending from Fergus Falls to Osakis.

Now, there is a Web site and group dedicated to the promotion and enhancement of the trail. Collectively, they're called "CentralLakesTrail.com." Maps, event listings, photos, and information about the communities you can visit along the way are available on the Web site. Make plans to visit the site--and the trail--soon!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Road Trip: Morris

Morris is the county seat of Stevens County. It's a college town--the University of Minnesota-Morris has received national recognition for its academically gifted student body, commitment to diversity, green campus initiatives and emphasis on student leadership. It's ranked among the top four colleges for its student-to-faculty ratio of 12 to 1. And it was recently ranked among the top 100 colleges nationally as a best value for both in-state and out-of-state students in the 2008 Kiplinger Best Values in Public Colleges exclusive survey.

Morris is also a farming community, it's surrounded by some of the most fertile land in Minnesota. It's dairy country, too. Doug Ehlers and Patty Kill from First Federal Savings Bank work with a lot of the farms and their employees. They kindly acted as tour guides for two WCI staffers.

First stop is La Tienda, a grocery store catering to the Morris area's Latino residents. The dairy farms and a few other large local businesses employ close to 200 immigrant workers. Most are in Minnesota without their families, but about 10 Latino families make their home in the area now. La Tienda stocks many of the comforts of home. There's also a classroom upstairs where Morris Community Ed provides English language lessons.

A few miles out of town, the countryside is greening up nicely. The first crop of alfalfa will be ready for cutting soon. Riverview Farms owns several dairy facilities in the area. And they are big. Each farm holds about 5,000 head of cattle. Milking is round the clock and an exact science. At one farm, cattle are herded onto a huge circular conveyor that holds close to 100 cows. The cows move into individual stalls, workers attach the milking machines, and the cows take a 10-minute ride before the milking apparatus is detached and they can saunter back to the barn for a well-deserved meal.

The barns also have a maternity ward where 50 to 60 calves are born EVERY DAY.

Nothing is wasted at Riverview Farms. Solids are separated from manure and dried to create bedding for the cows. The liquid can be pumped into nearby fields as fertilizer for crops. And that's not all. Soon a "digester" will be up and running that will create methane gas from the manure, which in turn will be sold to the local power company.

One more stop: Buddies in the small burg of Hancock for lunch. If you've got a huge hankering for a hamburger, the double-decker Buddy Burger is sure to appease your appetite!

See photos of the Morris Road Trip.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Detroit Lakes has its day

IMG_1508, originally uploaded by West Central Initiative.

Detroit Lakes is one of five Minnesota communities enjoying time in the spotlight as an official Capital for a Day as part of a week of events celebrating Minnesota's Sesquicentennial, May 11-18. On May 14, state officials, dignitaries and media flocked to the city for tours, forums, exhibits, presentations and more. Here, Mayor Larry Buboltz is interviewed by the local Fox station affiliate.

Monday, May 12, 2008

New "graduates" now grasp the essentials of nonprofit administration

May is graduation month for a lot of high schools and colleges in west central Minnesota. The participants of "The Essentials of Nonprofit Administration: Enhancing Skills – Improving Programs" also celebrated the completion of a 10-month series of workshops. The training was held alternately in Fergus Falls and Alexandria, and addressed today’s critical issues that nonprofit organizations face daily.

"I absolutely loved the Essentials of NonProfit Administration class!" said Lisa Workman, executive director of the Fergus Falls Area Chamber of Commerce. "It was a true learning experience that I could put to use right away, such as the financial and legal information.

"As non-profits, we all face similar challenges. We shared solutions and best practices. I would highly recommend this course to anyone in a non-profit setting, whether a director or someone in a management level at just about any level of experience."

Friday, May 9, 2008

Providing support for supportive providers

In this age of dual-career marriages and more single parents raising their children, child care providers can be a godsend. That's why May 9 has been designated Provider Appreciation Day. It's a time to recognize child care providers, teachers, school-age program staff, child care center directors and staff, and all those who work with children in a variety of ways and are responsible for their education and care.

It is estimated that there are nearly 2.8 million child care providers in the United States, with close to 12 million under age 5 in their care. Still, many parents will attest to the difficulty of finding providers, especially in rural areas. Plus, they want the best care for their children. And providers will tell you it's hard sometimes to work in isolated areas where learning opportunities for themselves AND for the kids in their care are few and far between.

In west central Minnesota, there are organizations and individuals who are working to expand childcare capacity and provide activities and programs for childcare workers and their charges, including West Central Initiative and the 10 Early Childhood Initiative communities in west central Minnesota.

In March, area providers and early care and education professionals were invited to attend "Building Relationships for a Child’s Success," a professional development teleconference organized by the Partners for Child C.A.R.E. (Convenient-Appropriate-Reliable-Excelling), a sub-committee of the regional Family Economic Success Council.

Nearly 200 people attended at 12 televised sites across the nine-county region. The session focused on equipping early childhood programs with a consistent message to parents and others about the importance of high quality care and early experiences to impact optimal brain development and subsequent school success. "Never, ever, underestimate the importance of how you are and what you do for children in the everyday moments you spend with them. You are planting seeds that have the potential to change the world in ways you may never see," said Michele Fallon, MSW, LICSW, Center for Early Education and Development.

Monday, April 28, 2008

New York Mills joins the blogosphere

Members of New York Mills' Horizons Leadership program have launched a community blog, with area residents as the bloggers! Recent topics include community garden news, starting a farmers' market, citywide clean-up day, meeting reports and dodgeball tournament results. The blog also includes upcoming events.