News Release

Published on Friday, July 31, 2009

Western Technical College’s Agribusiness and Landscape Horticulture programs were recently recognized for being the Outstanding Postsecondary/Adult Agricultural Program in the state of Wisconsin and by the National Association of Agriculture Educators. The award honors exemplary two-year postsecondary institutions and full-time adult agricultural education programs.

To be eligible for the honor, Western instructors, Pete Bemis, Tracy Harper, and Warren Pickar completed an application, which included an overview of the programs, the teaching philosophy, and examples of experiential learning, community partnerships, and participation in student organization activities.

“We had several examples of student success to include in the application,” said Bemis. “Our philosophy is that students learn through engagement of curriculum, so we give students hands-on opportunities that provide service to others.”

Both of the programs work closely with local businesses, government agencies, and schools to provide learning opportunities. In addition to completing a 288-hour internship, Agribusiness students examine business, production, and marketing practices of farms and agribusinesses in the La Crosse area. Student participation in Western’s Post-Secondary Agricultural Student (PAS) Organization encourages interaction with agribusinesses throughout the state.

As part of the curriculum, students in the Landscape Horticulture program design parks, playgrounds, and residential land for local businesses. They also volunteer for Habitat for Humanity. Program students involved in the Landscape Horticulture Club grow and market plants to the community, donating part of their proceeds from the sales to local charities.

“The common trait of successful college programs is engagement,” said William Brendel, Western Technical College dean of Agriculture, Apprenticeship and Technology. “Student engagement, business partnership engagement, and college engagement are all hallmarks of the Agribusiness and Landscape Horticulture programs at Western.”

As part of the national award, the college receives a two-year lease on a Toyota Tundra to be used for the program. Additionally, the programs will be recognized at the National Association of Agriculture Educators convention in Nashville, Tenn. in November.

“The truck will be used to help students travel to off-site learning environments and business locations,” said Harper. “These off-site visits are essential for student interaction and learning about successful business practices.”

In addition to associate’s degrees in Agribusiness Science Technology and Landscape Horticulture, Western also offers one-year technical diplomas in Farm, Business and Production Management, and certificates in Animal or Crop Science and Plant Health Care.

For more information about programs and services at Western, call 608.785.9200 or visit the Web site at