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Gov. Reynolds visits Iowa Lakes

By Staff | Aug 23, 2017

Iowa governor Kim Reynolds and Lieutenant Governor Adam Gregg came to Estherville early for eggs and excitement as Iowa Lakes Community College staff presented the latest in educational achievement at the college.

Iowa Lakes Community College received the U.S. Dept. of Education Postsecondary Sustainability Award, and was designated as a Green Ribbon School. Iowa Lakes is the only educational institution to receive this honor in Iowa in 2017.

Jennie Knudson, planning and development grant writer, compiled data for the college’s application for the award.

“I love any time Iowa can lead. As the only college in Iowa to receive the award, it shows how important sustainability is to Iowa as an agricultural state, that we take very seriously our responsibility to feed the world, and to do that we need to protect our soil, so Iowa Lakes taking a leadership role in going green is something to be commended,” Gov. Reynolds said.

Bill Lapczenski, director of auxiliary services for the college, said, “Our greatest natural resource is our students.”

It was members of the student body who came to the administration of the college with concern about the number of plastic water bottles used at the campus, Lapczenski said.

“It was the students’ initiative that led to putting in hydration stations. These, with our other efforts, have led to Iowa Lakes generating 35-40 percent less waste,” Lapczenski said.

Steve Olerich, director of dining services, said, “The college garden at the Emmetsburg campus is a 66,000 square foot living classroom, which provides produce for students and community members. Everyone wants to be in on it,” Olerich said.

Science professor Kyle Norris brought Gov. Reynolds and Lt. Gov Gregg into his classroom milieu.

“I communicate with my students by text message,” Norris said.

“I understand, as a frustrated mother. They don’t answer calls, they don’t check their emails, but texts they get back to me right away,” Gov. Reynolds said.

Norris demonstrated the active learning classroom with four pods, each with its own screen and white board, with electricity and available laptops, and an overhead high definition camera, which allows students to project their work onto one or more of the classroom screens to collaborate within their groups or with the entire class.

Norris showed a student-made video in which the student demonstrated his knowledge of a sheep heart dissection, with each part staked and the student’s narration of the label and function of each part.

“This is how the digital native generation learns. The students can empower themselves, and I’m happy to step back and let the students pursue the directions of learning that are important to them,” Norris said.

College President Valerie Newhouse said, “Everything we do is the community’s, and they have given us everything we need to make this happen.”

Governor Reynolds continues her work in the Iowa STEM initiative that she started as Lieutenant Governor.

“Iowa Lakes is a phenomenal partner on STEM, and it’s been a seamless transition. You do a great job here in Northwest Iowa and scores are going up in math, science and reading for our students,” Gov. Reynolds said.

“We want students in rural areas to have the same opportunities as some of our students in urban areas. Workforce is our biggest need in the state, and a skilled workforce will meet the need,” Gov. Reynolds said.

Gov. Reynolds said she understands the needs of adult learners. “I was one of them,” Gov. Reynolds said. Gov. Reynolds is a December 2016 graduate of Iowa State University with a Bachelor of Liberal Studies degree with concentrations in political science, business management, and communications. It is Gov. Reynolds’ first post-secondary degree.

Gov. Reynolds said Iowa Lakes is a key component to the goal of 70 percent of Iowans achieving education beyond high school by 2025.

“I’m so excited about the active learning initiatives. Engaged students will have better results,” Gov. Reynolds said.