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.