Daniel Franzese from “Mean Girls” coming to UW-Green Bay on Wednesday, Jan. 30

Daniel Franzese, the comedian and actor, will be bringing his stand-up comedy to campus on Wednesday, Jan. 30, 2019 at 8 p.m. in the Phoenix Rooms located in the University Union. Though best known for his role as Damien in the movie “Mean Girls,” Franzese has become an advocate for the LGBT community and positive body image. Admission is free! See more events occurring during UW-Green Bay Homecoming 2019.

Nature’s way: Partnership allows kindergartners to experience growth in 600-acre setting

Getting back to nature has taken on a whole new meaning for several University of Wisconsin-Green Bay pre-service teachers.

Not only are Naomi Khang, Taylor Pomplun, Michiela Schwoerer and Delaney Splittgerber, who are enrolled in the two-credit course Environmental Education in K12 Schools, experiencing Bay Beach Wildlife Sanctuary for themselves, but also through the eyes of four-year-olds.

It’s part of a unique cooperative venture involving the University, Green Bay Area Public School District, city of Green Bay and the 600-acre nature setting.

“It got going during the 2012-2013 school year,” UW-Green Bay’s Associate Dean of Health, Education, and Social Welfare, Scott Ashmann, recalled. “There were multiple meetings that took place to meet all of the policies and procedures that needed to be met put into a program like this for the different partners. The district was looking for more four-year-old kindergarten placements on the east side of Green Bay. The sanctuary wanted to create a program that would get young students interested in environmental education. The university was looking for more ways to reach out to our community partners.”

It’s been a learning process for all involved along the way.

“This year we opened a second classroom and have 56 children in the morning and afternoon,” Green Bay Area Public School District Director of Preschool Programs Mary McCabe revealed. “It’s a program that we’ve never advertised; it’s really just spread by word of mouth.”

According to McCabe, Oak Learning Center, the Monday -Thursday program “engages children in highly interactive outdoor learning, encouraging them to explore the world around them, while acquiring important skills that will prepare them for kindergarten.”

“The students are learning a passion for all living things,” Oak Learning Center teacher Natalie Shihoski said. “They develop within them the need and want to take care of plants and animals. I hope they’re growing up to protect our natural world.”

They’re doing so by getting out of the typical classroom setting.

“They spend 60-80 percent of their time outside,” McCabe pointed out. “They might go on a nature hike and talk about hibernation or migration. On the hike, they become familiar with the types of trees and talk about the seasons. Having the sanctuary available is different than just being able to go outside at any other school. All of the resources are there.”

Preservice teachers support the teacher and naturalist from Bay Beach in each of the three-hour sessions split up between mornings and afternoons. The class requires them to complete six assignments — two lessons taught to subsets of at least 4-6 students, two others related to Wisconsin environmental education standards and Project Wild training and mid-term and final reflections.

One of those four is senior Taylor Pomplun of Dalton, who is majoring in Early-Middle Childhood Education. Her plan is to student teach in the spring and upon May graduation, teach in a small, rural school near Green Bay.

“Education through nature can be very exciting,” she said. “Children are still learning the same material as those in a traditional school, just in a different way. They love the outdoors and exploring new things.”

Like fruit bats.

“We learned about them around Halloween,” Pomplun said. “Fruit bats are on exhibit at the sanctuary. The students were extremely excited and asked many questions. It was great to see them so interested and wanting to learn more!”

Shihoski leans on her UW-Green Bay support team of Splittgerber and Pomplun.

“They are talking with the children when we are hiking and when we stop and learn about an animal. For example, they might say ‘There’s a turkey. Turkey starts with a T.’’’ They draw a T in the ground with chalk or with a stick in the snow. ‘How many turkeys do you see? Let’s count to three.’’’ Reinforcing the literacy and math that go along with the natural things we are studying.”

“We talk about children developing in four different domains,” Ashmann said. “Academic, physical, social and emotional. Emotional is that connection to nature — developing the love of and respect for it. If they do that at a young age, hopefully that will continue with them for the rest of their lives.”

“It’s a unique set-up because we technically hire and oversee the full-time teachers and naturalists but the teachers also have to have their license from the school district,” Oak Learning Center Director James Andersen said.

“We do our curriculum in six-week chunks,” he continued. “So, we’re looking ahead to what the next focus is. In winter, we modify accordingly. If we’re talking about the weather, maybe we do different types of clouds. How weather works. Digging down another layer and getting into how animals’ fur changes. We just relate it to whatever season we are in. Nature gives us what it gives us.”

Both children and teachers love the experience.

“The children are so open, adventurous and willing to do whatever, especially in nature,” Andersen observed. “They’re wide-eyed, have lots of energy and see things differently than we do. It is something to see their eyes light up when they see an animal or a snake slithering across a pathway they run into. All of these teachable moments all of the time are really cool.”

“It’s fabulous,” McCabe agreed. “There are lots of school districts that call us and ask for tours of this site because they want to see if they have the resources in their communities that they might be able to try to replicate it at least a little bit. The children love it. There are so many acres and so much to learn.”

That’s achieving the goal Ashmann was part of setting up.

“Programs like this are becoming more common across the United States,” he said. “Five years ago, they were very rare. This idea of nature-based early childhood education is something that lots of people are seeing the benefits of, so more and more programs are being created.”

By freelance writer Jay Lillge, for UW-Green Bay’s Office of Marketing and University Communication

Click to advance slideshow or view the album on Flickr.

Nature-Based 4K at Wildlife Sanctuary

– Photos by Dan Moore, Marketing and University Communication

Skyla Aissen at Aissen Tree Farm

Packed with an entrepreneurial ‘spirit’ Skyla Aissen ’18 graduated from college, debt-free

With roots planted deep in Northeast Wisconsin and visions of “branch” expansion, recent Business Administration graduate and Christmas tree grower Skyla Aissen has her work gloves on and is ready for the future.

Her Grandma Lean imparted this piece of wisdom on Skyla long ago, “24 hours is a lot of time in a day to get things done.

Suffice to say that Skyla is one to take wisdom from her elders to heart. The 21-year old graduated from UW-Green Bay with honors in December 2018. Remarkably, she earned her Business Administration degree (Marketing and Management emphases) in 3 ½ years, despite having a near-full-time job, running two businesses and managing property that she purchased herself.

And she made it through debt free. See the feature by WBAY-TV.

Four generations of business acumen

Aissen is now among the fourth generation of Christmas tree growers in her family, following in the footsteps of her great-grandfather, founder of Hess & Sons Tree Farm in Wisconsin Rapids; her grandfather, who ran a wholesale business in Rapids; and her parents, Tammy Hess and Jeff Aissen, who moved to Northeast Wisconsin to start a retail lot for 11 years, before moving and opening the Aissen Tree Farm in Kewaunee County, in 2000.

If you think of a tree-farm as a seasonal operation, think again. With the Christmas season now in the rear-view mirror, the Aissens turn their attention to post-holiday inventory and taking their 2,000 sq. ft. gift shop, with more than 7,000 ornaments and other gifts, completely apart.

In January, Skyla travels with family members to Atlanta to attend a wholesale mart and shop for next year. Upon return, they work on planning, preparation and cutting firewood that heats the house and two shops. In spring they plant 5,000 trees by hand, followed by fertilizing, removing previous stumps, fixing ruts, weed control, mowing on 55 patches. In summer they shear 50,000 trees and collect pine cones for wreaths. It’s not uncommon for them to walk more than 15 miles a day, working on the farm.

“It’s a 24/7, 365-days-a-year job, and I wouldn’t have it any other way,” said the new UW-Green Bay alumna and entrepreneur.

A nine-year-old entrepreneur

Skyla was only nine years old when she started a side business on the farm, creating “kissing balls” — supersized mistletoe — that have become increasingly popular as household Christmas-decorating staples. That first year, she sold 45 balls. Now, 12 years later, she is up to 375. This side business paid for her entire college, “fully and completely.”

Her second business within the business, now shared with her fiancé’ Nathan Vanderbloemen, is tree coloring. “We found it is cheaper and less messy for customers if we do it.” Growing exponentially, her first 50 trees were a sellout, and 75 colored trees in 2018 sold out as well.

Although Aissen’s sharp business acumen is homegrown, she was determined to be completely prepared for her future by earning a bachelor’s degree through UW-Green Bay’s Cofrin School of Business. She crossed the Weidner stage in December with diploma in hand and no regrets.

“I wanted to obtain my bachelor’s degree to enhance our marketing and management skills on the farm,” she said. “I knew it was important for me to obtain a degree because owning a tree farm is a high risk. Knowing these risks, I realized that I needed a backup plan in case of a natural disaster or health complications as life can be very unpredictable and it is always good to be prepared.”

Business degree gave her a balanced perspective

Through the Business Administration program, she said the most valuable attribute she learned was the ability to “think through and solve problems.” “It has also taught me better time-management skills and how to manage money. From paying for school to paying for all overhead costs, employees, insurance, mortgage payments, taxes, monthly fees and maintenance costs on the new property, I have learned how to properly keep records and manage all of my finances successfully.”

The ace student (3.9 GPA) and Luxemburg-Casco High School 2015 graduate is pleased to be a poster child for graduating from college debt free.

“If you work hard, you can graduate early with no debt, it just takes dedication and time management skills,” she advises. “It is also important not to spend so much time on social media or on mobile devices.  Even though it may seem stressful, it is important to push through, and you will eventually reap the rewards.”

The proud alumnus will now turn her complete attention to her business prospects — the family-owned farm with 50,000 trees and the 7.5-acre property right across the road, purchased entirely by Skyla on her own.

“The property is a fixer-upper with a house, barn, garage and shed on 7.5 acres, she said. “However, I already have more than 2,500 hundred trees planted on the property, with hopes to plant thousands more.”

And then there is the grand vision and a safe bet for Skyla’s next dream…

“I would like to expand the farm and turn my barn into a wedding venue and the house into a bed and breakfast, as well.”

With history as a past measure of success, one would be wise not to bet against this rising Phoenix.

Coffee and more available next week

Looking for coffee, food and other refreshments next week? The Corner Store will have Starbucks® coffee brewing next week and can take care of all of your snack, candy, beverage, bottled water, soda, breakfast and lunch needs! The Corner Store will be open from 7:45 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., December 26-28. You can also get coffee at the Cofrin Library 2nd floor coffee kiosk. For more information on the hours of operation for the University Union and University Dining Services over Winter Break, check out www.uwgb.edu/union/about/building-hours.


UW-Green Bay announces retirement of Christine Style

After a long and commendable career at UW-Green Bay, Professor Christine Style (Art and Visual Design) is retiring. Her colleagues had this to say about her time at UW-Green Bay:

As a teacher with more than 30 years experience, Professor Style commands a breadth of knowledge in printmaking, drawing & foundations. She has always exhibited an ability to foster students’ development through difficult & involved technical processes. Professor Style has made significant efforts to make a path for her students from the classroom to the community including but not limited to numerous public printing events, print conferences, exhibitions and field trips. Most notably, she has taken students to study printmaking at the Santa Reparata International School for the Arts in Florence Italy for more than 25 years.

She has additionally been steadfast in her ability to maintain a meaningful artistic exhibition record that enlivens the print world, regionally, nationally and internationally. Professor Style’s layered works draw from history, world cultures, personal narratives and mythology to unfold rich compositions for the viewer. Viewers travel and process the layers as they experience her expertly crafted print works.

As an experienced, involved and aware citizen of UW-Green Bay, Professor Style has made significant contributions to the Art discipline serving several terms as chair as well as actively participated as a valuable member of scholarship committees, mentoring untenured faculty, lending expertise to the Lawton Gallery and numerous search committees. At the university level she has contributed her expertise and knowledge to countless university-wide committees. Her understanding of the precarious position of the Arts & her willingness to advocate for the study of Art and the needs of Art & Design make her a voice that will be missed on campus.

Snapshot: Marinette Campus composition students work on portfolios

Students in composition classes at the Marinette Campus worked at the end of this semester to create WordPress Writing Portfolios with revised versions of the essays they had written for class. Some of them shared those portfolios with authentic audiences outside of the university and used the final exam time to reflect on the revision process and the experience of sharing their writing with “real readers.”  Some students had previously created WordPress Writing Portfolios for earlier composition classes and were adding to those through this project. Professor Jennifer Flatt (English, Spanish) is their faculty member.

ENG 102 WordPress Portfolio Work3 ENG 102 WordPress Portfolio Work2 ENG 102 WordPress Portfolio Work

Danielle Clarizio to receive the Hong Rost Memorial Award

Congratulations to Danielle Clarizio, director of International Student Programs at the Marinette Campus. The Wisconsin Association of International Educators selected Clarizio to receive the Unknown-22019 Hong Rost Memorial Award for Innovation in International Education Student Service. She will be officially presented with the award, Friday, April 12 in Madison. The award is presented for innovation in international education and for enhancing the student experience in an outstanding way.


Photos: Admissions appreciates its students with a holiday party

Despite the hectic pace of semester’s end, members of the campus community have taken time to show appreciation to colleagues and especially their student workers. The Admissions team is among them, with a party that included holiday sweaters, a white elephant gift exchange, a festive sock contest and a tree decoration competition. Thanks for sharing the fun!

2018 Admissions Tree Decorating Winners2018 Admissions Holiday Party Games2018 Admissions Festive Holiday Sock Models2018 GBOSS Staff2018 Admissions Holiday Party