Supporting the Troops
A new club offers services, assistance, and camaraderie for U.S. military veterans.
In 2009, Bruce Rathe had an epiphany: There was nothing at Fox Valley Technical College that students who were military veterans could call their own. Rathe, who works in the college’s Educational Support Services department, wanted to change that. “I wanted veterans to know that their presence on campus was valued,” he says.
In April 2010, Rathe put out feelers to determine if others shared his views. Feedback from students, faculty, staff, and community members gave him the answer he was looking for. Thus, V4V—the Veterans for Veterans Club was formed.
Club meetings are open to anyone. Currently enrolled students who have served or are serving in the military, from any era or any branch, have voting privileges in the club. Almost 40 vets, including an FVTC alumnus, have signed up, along with a handful of faculty and community members.
Chris McKeithan, a student in the college’s Natural Resources Technician program and the inaugural V4V president, views the club as an important offering for those readjusting to civilian life. “The club will help fellow vets support one another while they adapt to new settings,” he says. “We’re also hoping to unite similar clubs around the area by offering cross-generational networking opportunities.”
After brainstorming sessions with club members, Rathe helped the group narrow its focus to three areas:
- Outreach: Events, activities, and service projects like speaking at schools or holding fundraisers for service organizations or military families.
- Benefits and services: Awareness and education will help veterans identify what benefits and services are available and how to access them.
- Camaraderie: Increasing interactions among veterans will provide consistent networking opportunities.
Rathe, who has no military experience himself, is glad he took the initiative to get the club started. “I’m not familiar with military culture, but I wanted to honor veterans,” he says. “I appreciate what these folks have done and are doing for our country.
Taking Time to Smell the Roses
An eye-catching rose garden at FVTC’s Appleton campus is attracting visitors thanks to a collaborative student project and longtime friend of the college.
The beautiful new rose garden near Entrance 3 at FVTC’s Appleton campus is a living memorial to a very special man. “Bill Hartling was a dear friend to Fox Valley Technical College,” says Jim Beard, FVTC’s lead Horticulture instructor and landscape architect. Bill’s wife, Jeanne, who recently retired after 25 years as an employee at FVTC, approached Beard shortly after Bill’s passing in December of 2009. She said Bill wanted the college to have his roses.
|Horticulture student Vickie Bartman in
the Hartling Family Rose Garden
Hartling, a Master Rosarian and the go-to guy for any and all questions about roses, had a wonderful collection of more than 200 roses. With the college administration’s blessing, Beard met with local rosarian Carl Christenson and Horticulture Technician student Vickie Bartman to plan and design a rose garden.
Since the designated spot was grass-covered and a former fill site laden with rubble, rock and different soils, Beard’s students spent all of May excavating planter beds and filling them with layers of topsoil and composted horse manure. Students then lifted, transported, and transplanted Hartling’s rose collection, a task made more difficult by unseasonably high temperatures and an excessive amount of rain that month. A trickle irrigation system and fertilizer attachment were added so the roses could be automatically watered and fed at the same time.
FVTC Horticulture students did all of the on-site work, which included laying the brick work for walkways and patios, as well as constructing two arbors, a pergola, a porch swing, and a lattice trellis. FVTC’s Automated Manufacturing Systems program and the Production Welding program in Oshkosh combined forces to create the two stainless steel signs and the patio's stone-cut rose.
Bartman, 52, whose background is in design and art direction, threw her “whole heart and soul” into the project. In addition to the landscaping-related projects, she worked with other students to create and assemble nameplates for all the roses, and more. “Roses were Bill’s passion for over 30 years,” she says. “I wanted to be part of honoring Bill’s memory, his legacy, and the generosity of the Hartlings’ contribution to the college.”
Beard couldn’t be happier with the final result. “The rose garden is one of those places where you can go to reflect, smell the roses, and recharge your batteries,” he says. He cannot praise his students enough for their achievement. “The finest thing this garden represents is the quality and dedication of Fox Valley Tech students,” he says. “It’s because our students work across department lines to form partnerships that we are able to accomplish these kinds of projects.”
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