By Rob Schuette, The Real McCoy Staff
Personnel in the
Fort McCoy community looking for post-secondary educational
opportunities to further their careers -- both military and civilian --
kept representatives of several institutions busy during an Education
Center Fair July 15 at Fort McCoy.
Dave Fish and Jackie J. Helgeson
of Western Technical College explain their organization's
programs and course offerings to a Soldier attending the
Education Fair at Fort McCoy. (Photo
by Rob Schuette)
Dale Spannbauer, a Fort McCoy Education specialist, said the
Fort McCoy Learning and Education Center initiated and sponsored the
Education Fair to give the college/university/technical college course
offerings at Fort McCoy a kick start.
"We perceived a need on post for personnel to go to school
to enhance their careers," Spannbauer said. "We invited a
number of institutions that give the most credit to the military for
their experience and the schools they attended while serving the
Fort McCoy opens attendance at any courses held on the
installation to all personnel, including those off post in the
surrounding or neighboring communities, who meet the requirements.
Spannbauer said this benefits everyone, and helps support the Army
Family Covenant and the Army Community Covenant, where the
installation develops a partnership with surrounding communities to
provide mutual educational benefits.
"It would be hard to run a course with students only from
Fort McCoy, Sparta or Tomah," Spannbauer said. "We need each
other to make it work."
"More community involvement means more choices, and it
will be better for everybody in the long run," he added.
Spannbauer said this will help everyone reach their full
educational potential. It also will help improve the educational
levels in the local communities and boost the number of highly
qualified people in the local work force. Studies show personnel who
attend and graduate from post-secondary courses have a better
potential for higher-level and higher-paying careers, he said.
Representatives from several La Crosse institutions, Western
Technical College (WTC), Viterbo University and the University of
Wisconsin (UW)-La Crosse, were on hand to tell about the course
offerings they could provide students.
Representatives of all three institutions noted the
opportunities for both on-site and remote-location classes, as well as
opportunities to take courses online.
Jackie J. Helgeson, an educational enhancement specialist for
WTC, said WTC can offer a blended program, including both on-site and
WTC has offered many two-year programs that lead to associate
degrees, such as criminal justice and public safety and also the
health professions, Helgeson said.
"We have one of the largest populations of veterans in the
region," Helgeson said. "Our programs are getting better and
Debra Anderson of Viterbo's School of Adult Learning said the
university has an agreement with WTC to allow students who graduate
with a two-year degree in selected programs to transfer the credits in
whole to pursue a four-year degree at Viterbo.
Annette Valeo, the UW-La Crosse Outreach Program specialist,
said UW-La Crosse also may be able to give military personnel
educational credit for their military experience and schooling and any
prior post-secondary education. It also has an agreement with WTC to
accept some two-year programs, such as the early childhood program,
for personnel seeking four-year degrees.
UW-La Crosse is making more of an effort to bring its courses
to the communities. The institution has held courses at Fort McCoy
upon request and hopes to continue to do so in the future.
"We know people have a lot of time constraints working
Monday to Friday," Valeo said. "We can offer them courses
one weekend a month. We also can offer hybrid courses of instruction,
including courses held online and on site."
Spannbauer said the choices to attend courses online or at
sites that are closer and more convenient than college campuses also
can help personnel reduce travel costs due to the higher cost of
gasoline and also reduce travel time.
"Online courses are the wave of the future,"
Spannbauer said. "Personnel can do the work at their convenience
on their home computers or other available computers."
Representatives from UW-Stout, which offers courses both
on-site and online were at the Education Fair.
Several institutions that offer only online courses attended
the Education Fair, as well.
Spannbauer said the important thing to remember about online,
as well as all college courses, is to ensure the courses are
accredited by the U.S. Department of Education.
Spannbauer also said the Education and Learning Center can help
personnel who are out of school and not high-school graduates or those
who would like to get their General Equivalency Diploma (GED).
Some post-secondary courses also may be open to high-school
students, as well.
Military personnel may be eligible for financial tuition
assistance under federal and state veterans programs, he said.
All personnel who want more information about post-secondary
educational opportunities through Fort McCoy can contact the Fort
McCoy Education and Learning Center at (608) 388-7311 or Spannbauer at
(608) 388-5072. The Education and Learning Center can provide
counseling assistance to help personnel find the best match for their
prior experience and schooling.