For many locals in Winona, creating a sustainable environment plays an important role in combating climate change.
Members of Winona Women for Healthy Communities have been active in addressing this contemporary concern.
On Saturday, April 15, members of the group held an art workshop at the Winona Arts Center, where attendees made art for a local version of the national People’s Climate March.
The march will occur Saturday, April 29, in downtown Winona and will bring attention to changes in climate.
Organizer of Arts Day and Winona Women for Healthy Communities member Mary Kaye Perrin said sustainability was the main theme of the art workshop.
Paint, brushes and watercolors were available for attendees to make posters, and decorate umbrellas as a way to show the abundance of rain that has occurred this year.
“People need to pay attention to the recent downpours of rain and flooding,” Perrin said.
According to Perrin, the march aims to make people more aware of the effects of global warming and reflect people’s concerns on the current regulations. This issue, she said, affects a community like Winona with flooding, loss of apple crops and loss of natural resources.
Through the march, the group will also support the Minnesota renewable energy goals and the progress being done toward them, Winona Women for Healthy Communities member Emilie Falc said.
In Winona, Falc said the group is trying to help locals continue to work on issues related to clean air, clean water and offer good jobs to encourage healthier communities.
“We don’t want to lose momentum toward those sustainability goals and legislation that would reduce them,” Falc said. “ We would like for people in the community to come forward and to talk about what their needs are.”
The event at the Winona Arts Center gave attendees, both children and adults, a chance to show sustainable efforts while expressing their creativity.
Attendee Julian Kohner was painting a butterfly with yellow and green colors, and his mom was holding the brush with him.
The canvas, paints and umbrellas were supplied from donations, and most of them were recycled items, Falc said. The art center contributed to the initiative by providing the space for the workshop.
Falc said the expenses for the march are low and volunteers will provide the music and PA system.
Nancy Bachler, one of the art workshop attendees, was outlining the red and yellow paint for the poster “Sustainable Future Now” with Lynette Powers, another organizer and member of Winona Women for Healthy Communities.
Bachler said about 98 percent of all scientists agree climate change is a real threat to the world, and that is why people need to be concerned about such issues.
Sometimes people can show individual efforts by simply recycling and being aware of the changes in the environment that affect health, Bachler said. Water is being polluted, she said, and the air quality is not as clean as it used to be.
“There really is an important connection to health, wellbeing, and the earth,” Bachler said. “We are trying to help people make their own part, while having fun.”
Besides sustainability, Falc said another important theme is local effort.
“We want to celebrate what we are already doing in Winona,” Falc said.
According to Falc, Winona is involved in making sustainable choices and Winona County has recently shown its contribution by purchasing energy from the solar garden, a solar power plant whose electricity is shared by more than one household.
She added people will come together at the march to support not only solar energy and solar gardens, but also geothermal, and wind energy in the community as sustainable energy sources.
In terms of sustaining local foods, Falc said the group is involved with supporting community gardens, local and organic family farms, orchards and farmworkers.
“We want to make it easier for local growers to sell their foods,” Falc said.
Because the march will start next to the Mississippi River, participants were making fish kites to symbolize the creatures people share the river with. Other posters displayed pollinators and apple trees that are under threat because they cannot evolve quickly to adapt to changes in climate.
“We need to use our creative energies to come together as a community,” Falc said. “And inspire people to choose the resources we already have.”
Another attendee, Marv Camp, was bending over a table and coloring the letters for an “Earth Day” poster in red and green. Camp said he hopes to be part of the April 29 march.
“Seeing our current political scene, it’s great that we can make an impact in our small community and hopefully on a bigger level, too,” Camp said.
With a vision for a better and sustainable future in mind, Perrin said she encourages making better choices every day by choosing to bike, and walking for clearer air instead of driving.
To promote walking, she added the group will work to make safer streets and crossings and improve public transportation including evening and weekend busing and more routes.
On Saturday, April 29, Perrin said she hopes for a great attendance from the community and invites people to bring giant apples or suns, and decorate umbrellas, skateboards, bikes and posters to express their commitment to climate justice.
Perrin said, “This is our vision for a better future and a better world for our children, our grandchildren, and ourselves.”
Simplicity and uniqueness are at the core of the new Island City Brewing Company’s philosophy.
Simple in design and original in beer choices, the brewery has been a venue for Winona residents, since it opened on 65 E. Front Street on Friday, March 17.
I was able to attend the brewery on a Thursday afternoon; at a time people decide to buy a beer after work, as a study break or to just relax.
Colton Altobell, owner of the brewery, welcomed me and offered me a beer of my choice. With his short but right to-the-point description of each beer, I picked the one I thought I would enjoy the most, called the ‘High Forest.’
While we were chatting, I also noticed four posters hanging by the taproom that characterized each beer. It definitely helped me to make my choice.
The beers at the brewery are full of personality – whether it is a light or dark ale.
Altobell said the original idea was to offer a range of flavors that would allow both beer lovers and beginners to find their own favorite drink.
“We create a variation of styles, unique to our brewery,” he said.
Their choice of flavors tries to meet seasonal demands too. At this time of the year, Altobell said it is more appropriate to offer lighter beer, compared to a fall season that will see darker color in prevalence. To him, it feels instinctual to make these considerations.
Since the opening, the IPA style beer, the current most popular style of beer, has been the most consumed at the Island City, Altobell said.
I thought the detailed menu guided customers through their decision. The beers are divided into styles, alcohol by volume content, availability, malt and hops and there is also a description for each kind, with suggested food pairings.
The menu referred to Latsch Local as a California Common style of beer, with firm, grainy maltiness and caramel flavors that give it a fruity taste. Altobell said Latsch Local is a light ale with a cold press coffee flavor in it.
Typically, coffee beer is darker but the one at the brewery is lighter. I could taste the coffee right away, and the beer afterwards. It was an unusual experience for me, and I through the two flavors did not go well together.
The Lost Compass beer is an IPA style, with an alcohol by volume content of 5.2 percent, a northwest pale malt and different kinds of hops. The beer is described as balanced, layered with depth and character, releasing something new with each sip. I liked it more than the first one, and thought it left a strong sour flavor in my mouth.
The third choice, and the one I picked, is the High Forest, a red ale style beer, light in alcohol and calories, with an alcohol by volume content of 3.5 percent and pilgrim hops. The description said the beer emerged on the idea of the color red, and the red ale delivers “supreme refreshment in the simplest way possible.”
Sometimes, I find myself having a hard time finishing a whole beer, but the red ale was definitely simple in flavor and easy to drink.
For the last choice, the Moonlight White, Altobell warned me I would taste a bitterness flavor.
Traditionally, Altobell said this beer is served with fruit or herbal syrups for added sweetness and complementary flavors. The bitter flavor, he added, comes from the hops, which give aroma to the beer.
The beer is a Berliner Weisse style, with an alcohol by volume content of 5.6 percent, pilgrim hops and wheat malt. It is described as a northern variation of the white beer style enhanced with complex flavors of stone, fruit and citrus.
Half of beer drinkers like the Moonlight White and half do not, Altobell said.
I had a chance to try the last beer with an additional cranberry juice flavor, and I thought it was too sweet with the extra flavor.
“It just depends on how you’re feeling. This is supposed to be a fun experience,” Altobell said.
When someone comes in the brewery, Altobell said he talks to the customers and tries to recommend a kind they would enjoy. Sometimes, people change their minds on a specific flavor, as they explore their options.
After sampling the beers, I was glad I chose the smooth, simply flavored red ale.
Half way through my beer, I watched Beertender Jovy Rockey serving customers at the counter and cleaning up the empty beers on the tables. Beer glasses of all sizes were set on the back shelves of the taproom, which Rockey kept filling as customers were coming and leaving.
When Altobell was thinking about a name for his brewery, he wanted to conjure a positive connotation and said Island City connected with the history of Winona, which used to be referred to as the Island City.
In the past, Winona was home to a brewery called Bub’s Brewing Company, Altobell said. It closed in 1969, and later the building was turned into an antique store.
“Breweries have always provided a product local people can enjoy,” Altobell said. “It’s deep rooted in Winona’s history.”
Growing up in town, Altobell was aware of the needs of the population, and thought Winona would be a perfect place to open a brewery because beer is a well-consumed product in the area.
He said a varied population of students, locals and tourists who pass through town would enjoy local products. By talking to a few residents in Winona, he saw the opportunity to do something different and create a place for gatherings and events.
Before starting the brewery, Altobell ran a youth summer camp for 10 years in Northern Minnesota, where he connected with his partner Tommy Rodengen, who had been involved in the brewery business for a while. After camp, Altobell worked in the Twin Cities in a few breweries.
While he was defining his business plan with Rodengen, Altobell said they had a complementary skill set that would work well if they started a business together. The two spent six months doing market research and finding the equipment they needed.
“Where Tommy had learned the brewing process, I picked up more on the operations side and the tail end of the brewing process, packaging and carbonating,” Altobell said.
One of the biggest issues was finding a place that was spacious enough to fit all the tanks where beer is produced and a taproom. The building itself, he said, has a lot of character on its own. His team tried to expose the building back to its roots and make it a warm and welcoming environment.
With the renovation, Altobell said he was able to put together with his partner a space that conveyed both a sense of antique with the wooden tables and the use of bricks, but also a sense of strong place in Winona.
“I wanted to feel connected to the history of beer and brewery of the town,” Altobell said.
The wood and the soft light are additional details to make the space feel more comfortable. Some people play cards while others study or spend time with friends.
“We didn’t have a specific mindset,” Altobell said. “We wanted to create something that would fit.”
When I first walked in, almost every table was full. The light was filtering through big square windows that afternoon, warming up the room. Soft music playing in the background was a lovely addition that allowed guests to talk while enjoying their beers.
An hour later, the tables were all taken, requiring some guests to stand by the taproom. A couple of young men were playing cards while a group of five people sat down the longest wood table in the center of the room. An older man who was part of the group said they had just left a funeral, to explain why they were wearing black.
The design of the room was balanced and logical: the owner made all of the uses of a brewery fit in one space. While workers produce the beer at the end of the room, guests in the taproom taste the final product of that work.
The space gave me a sense of order and cleanliness. There were a few small vases on the windowsills and the right amount of tables for both customers and workers to easily move through the room.
I was also caught by the well-thought proximity of the bricks with the adjacent wall that showed a hand painted map of Winona. It made the entryway look more inviting. The contrasting vibrant red tones of the bricks and the warm tones of the wall seemed like a perfect combination of colors to convey that sense of antique, and relaxation.
It seemed to me as if I was brought back in time.
When I went back to the brewery on a Friday night, the atmosphere was different. More than 50 people were talking. Some were standing and others were sitting in groups. In the back of the room, I noticed a buffet and some cupcakes and later found out most of the people were celebrating a birthday.
Customer Irina Holahan said it was her second time visiting the brewery and she had already tried all the beers. On Friday, she was with her husband and a group of friends from work, who had not been to the brewery before.
“I can really find myself here. I like that it’s different from the typical bars downtown,” she said. “Winona needed a change.”
Customer Bradley Larson was at the brewery on a weekend and said he wanted to play some games but the room was busy and he was not able to use them.
Larson added the brewery could have offered food options, and he thought there were not enough choices of beers.
“They only have four as of now, but I would expect that to change as they gain a better footing, especially during fall and winter, at a time different types of beers are brewed,” he said.
That brought me to thinking small food options could accompany the beers and make the experience even more pleasing.
Because it was more crowded than Thursday, waiters were collecting empty glasses and washing them non-stop through the night. Some customers were placing their empty glasses with a pile that had accumulated on the end corner of the counter of the taproom.
As Altobell was going over the brewing process, he said beer is made with four basic ingredients: water, grain, hops and yeast. From those four ingredients, it is possible to produce an endless variety of products, he said.
Altobell said beer making requires a lot of treatment and his team is careful with all steps of the process, such as water treatment, boiling and fermentation. When the grain has been milled, mixed with hot water and the sweet wort has been separated from the grains, fermentation begins. During this step, the yeast will convert the sugar into alcohol and carbon dioxide. Carbonation will then naturally occur from fermentation.
Island City Brewing Company Cellarman James Scudamore is in charge of parts of the brewing process, such as the monitoring of the yeast and fermentation. He has helped Altobell since October, when they were renovating the place.
“I enjoy working with the guys. I’m always open to new ideas and experimentation,” Scudamore said. “It’s nice to be able to work in this environment.”
Four people work on the production site, he said, and six on the taproom.
The taproom is Winona’s space to use for meetings, artists and music events, Altobell said.
Without a TV in the room, Altobell wants his brewery to become a place where people can commune with each other, talk, study and relax. The music is quite low, similar to a coffee house in a way, he said.
Through April, the brewery will be a venue for Mid West Music Fest and have more music on the weekends during daytime.
During the following months, Altobell plans to expand his choices of beers to eight and create an established landmark place in Winona. His hope is to be able to distribute the beer in liquor stores, bars and restaurants and expand his mark out from Winona in nearby areas as well.
Altobell said, “We have the capacity to brew a big volume of beer, more than we can consume.”
The Island City Brewing Company is an ideal place for a town that welcomes a great beer culture.
Michael Krug has never received the flu vaccination because he is skeptical about the efficacy of the drug itself.
For Johnna Miller, vaccinating against the flu is one of her priorities when flu season begins.
Krug and Miller, graduate students at Winona State University, have contrasting ideas about vaccinations. No matter if they decided to vaccinate against the flu this year, they both had to show proof of certain vaccinations in order to be enrolled at the university.
According to the College of Physicians of Philadelphia, vaccination requirements changed over time and continued to be updated as new vaccines were developed for more diseases. Since the 1940s, some vaccines have been added while others have been removed or replaced.
Polio immunization was recommended in the 1950s, and tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis, polio, measles, mumps and rubella appeared in the 1970s. A vaccine for hepatitis B was added in the mid-1990s.
The College of Physicians of Philadelphia also stated by the 1990s, all 50 states required students to receive certain immunizations in order to attend classes.
Mitzi Girtler, a licensed school nurse and the coordinator of health services at Winona Public Schools, said vaccination recommendations are not the same in every country.
In the U.S., she said, school immunizations laws are not imposed by the federal government, but by the individual states. For instance, the state of Minnesota has different requirements than the state of Wisconsin.
According to the Minnesota Department of Health, the law requires all children seven years of age and older to show proof of vaccinations against diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, polio, mmr (measles, mumps and rubella), hepatitis B, varicella and meningococcal.
According to the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, children entering kindergarten through fifth grade, and sixth through 12 must have received a specific amount of doses of polio, hepatitis B, mmr (measles, mumps and rubella) and varicella vaccines depending on the age group.
Students who enroll in college have to show proof they have been vaccinated against measles, mumps, rubella, tetanus and diphteria, according to the Minnesota Department of Health. Any student who fails to show proof of vaccinations within the first 45 days after first enrollment cannot remain enrolled.
Despite the requirements, not every individual is in favor of vaccinations.
Girtler said some people and communities object to school immunizations because they disagree with the mandates and have religious or personal beliefs that are in disagreement with vaccinations.
Other factors imply a lack of confidence, uncertainty toward the effectiveness of the vaccine and increased perceived risk of side effects of the vaccine, Girtler said.
Individuals who do not want to immunize their children, she said, can request an exemption to address their concerns.
In Minnesota, the Department of Health may allow exemptions from immunizations if a statement signed by a physician is submitted to the administrator, or in case of conscientiously held beliefs of the parents.
Depending on each state, some communities of people, she said, will not follow the state requirements. For instance, she said home school families typically are against vaccinations.
Vaccine hesitancy refers to those parents who show concerns about the decision to vaccinate one’s self or one’s children, according to Daniel Salmon, author of an article in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.
The article specifies the number of parents who claim non-medical exemptions to school immunization requirements has been increasing over the past decade. Other causes of vaccine hesitancy may include the fear of allergic reactions, the inability of parents to control the risks of adverse reactions, and the possibility the child’s immune system might be weakened.
The influenza vaccination is one of the immunizations parents are skeptical about, Girtler said.
In terms of influenza vaccination, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention recently reported on the national early-season flu vaccination coverage with findings showing approximately 40 percent of all persons and 37 percent of children were vaccinated by early November 2016.
The late flu season vaccination report from 2013 to 2016 showed 45 percent of all persons and almost 60 percent of children were vaccinated against the flu.
The CDC noted efforts are needed to increase the percentage of the population vaccinated during the next few months in order to reduce the burden of flu.
The CDC showed the percentage of vaccinations in Minnesota is higher compared to other states, with a coverage in 2010-11 through 2015-2016 of 49.7 percent of all persons that is compared to a 42.7 percentage in Wisconsin.
Winona Senior High School, Girtler said, is an example of schools in Minnesota where vaccination trends are high.
Girtler said the school claims a high percentage of the required vaccinations needed to be registered, with over 96 percent of the students being fully vaccinated.
The school does not provide the vaccine but encourages students and families to go to their health care provider.
Because immunizations are a state law requirement, Girtler said the high school acts as a gatekeeper, and keeps track of them through school attendance.
The district’s immunization plan includes three groups of students: incoming kindergarteners, seventh graders, and new students coming in from another state or district.
With kindergarteners and seventh-graders, the district makes sure to contact the families months before the beginning of school, letting them know about the state requirements. Parents of the incoming students will individually meet with school officials.
The school officials send alerts to parents of sixth graders, similar to a phone system of advertising, she said. Girtler said the school encourages vaccinations in an effort to protect students who cannot be vaccinated due to health reasons or allergies.
Students who do not have the proper vaccinations at the beginning of the school year will usually get the shot right after they have been notified. The district, she said, occasionally has to turn away a student or two due to a lack of immunization.
“We provide them resources and try to find funding or transportation if needed,” she said.
In the Gale-Ettrick-Trempealeau school district in Wisconsin, Registered Nurse Barbara Hogden said almost every student in the school is vaccinated. Only 37 out of 1,392 students have personal waivers, exempting them to immunize, she said.
Hogden said 103 students decided to get the influenza vaccination at the school, and the other children had the choice to get it through their health care provider.
This year, Hogden said there were only three cases of influenza at the school because most of the students are vaccinated. The few who decide not to vaccinate usually do not believe in the vaccines, or they do not have enough information about them, she said.
For those parents who are in contradiction with the vaccines, Hogden said she encourages them to gather information from reliable online sources and to talk to their health care provider.
“Parents should always weigh both sides and do their research,” Hogden said. “There is a lot of information out there; they just need to look for it.”
While parents determine children’s necessity of receiving a flu vaccination, college students like Krug and Miller, can decide whether to vaccinate on their own.
Krug said he is skeptical about flu shots because he read online the vaccine protects against three types of the virus only, though there are more; and the virus constantly changes.
“I have always trusted that with good hygiene and proper nourishment, I can stay healthy for the most part,” Krug said.
On the other side of the spectrum, Miller takes advantage of the flu shot every year.
Miller said she is glad the flu vaccine is so easily accessible for students, especially in a college environment where germs are passed easily. The flu, she said, can spread quickly, and have a large impact on a population.
Vaccination requirements, Miller said, should be recommended but not mandatory because people need to have a say in what they receive in their bodies. She said she thought it is important to get vaccinated not only for a person’s health, but for the health of a whole community.
“When different things are forced or required, they can have negative connotations associated with them,” Miller said.
Winona State University Registered Nurse Joyce Peckover said the Health and Wellness Services on campus administered about 350 flu shot vaccinations this academic year.
The Health and Wellness Services is able to administer immunizations for several diseases, and the flu shots are available at the clinic for $25 billed to a student’s insurance. Peckover said the shot is covered by most students’ health insurance under preventable care.
According to Peckover, the amount of flu shots the university administers depends on whether there has been a bad outbreak of influenza across the U.S. In that case, she said, the following year people are more willing to vaccinate against the flu because they are afraid they might get sick again. This year, influenza started later than usual, with a peak in January, she said.
When students walk into the Health and Wellness Services for an appointment, Peckover said the registered nurses try to encourage the flu shots. Sometimes, students decide not to be vaccinated because they do not believe in the vaccine, or they have never taken it before.
Peckover is in charge of the Ask-A-Nurse line, and said she often receives calls from parents who want to keep track of their son’s or daughter’s health and ask if they have received the shot. Other times, the students purposely will not get vaccinated because of their parents’ decision.
Until the flu shots expire in June, Peckover said she will keep administering flu shots. Health and Wellness Services collaborate with the health promotion center to encourage flu shots via online and across the university through informative posters.
“We are always looking for new ways to encourage it,” Peckover said. “As much as we market the flu shot, it’s never enough.”
Peckover said the registered nurses work together with nursing students every fall, and set up a flu shot clinic to make it more convenient for students to stop by the booth during their lunch break.
Peckover said it is important to educate on flu shots because they can prevent serious illnesses and doctors’ visits. At the academic level, she said students who get influenza might be absent from classes for a few days, and lower their performance.
According to the CDC, an annual seasonal flu vaccine can keep people from getting sick with influenza, reduce the risk of flu-associated hospitalization, and protect people with chronic health conditions who are more vulnerable to flu illnesses.
No matter if individuals have had a flu shot or not, in order to prevent influenza and the spread of germs, Peckover said getting good nutrition and resting helps to keep the immune system built up.
The CDC recommends avoiding contact with sick people, covering the nose and mouth with a tissue when coughing or sneezing, cleaning and disinfecting surfaces and objects that may be contaminated with germs like the flu and others.
“Everything comes down to prevention,” Peckover said. “Our goal is to provide education and prevent diseases to stay healthy.”
Despite the high percentages of student vaccinations in the Winona area public schools, in some cases, Girtler said students could be sent home from school because they do not have the proper vaccinations, or proof of exemptions from them. Kindergarten is the time they can first be blocked from schools, she said.
Rochester public schools recently did not allow 80 students to attend classes in the school building because they did not submit the paperwork before the deadline on March 1.
The district notified the families whose children did not have all the required vaccinations from Jan. 27 through Feb. 20, but they were not successful in providing the documents.
Both Girtler and Hogden said diseases, which used to be common in the U.S., including polio, measles, diphtheria and rubella, can now be prevented with vaccination.
Those parents who are against vaccinations were not alive when polio spread all over the country and are not aware of the number of people who died from it, Hogden said.
Agata Blaszczak-Boxe, author of an article on vaccine refusals, said parents think vaccine-preventable diseases are rare these days, and their memory of these diseases may be fading.
Some of the recent measles outbreaks prove those beliefs wrong. Girtler said California experienced a large, multi-state measles outbreak at Disneyland in 2015 from a traveler who became infected overseas with measles. Other measles cases occured quickly afterwards.
Girtler said in order to encourage more vaccinations in the future, interventions are needed on the individual level. She said health care providers are the best source of information for individuals who are hesitant to immunize their children.
One-on-one conversations usually work best because parents are able to listen closely to an expert’s opinion on the matter, she said.
“We are encouraging vaccinations to protect not only children, but the whole community,” Girtler said. “This is a public concern.”
Winona State University has a long history, and there are professors currently on campus who can tell that history since they have taught at the university for many years.
According to Assistant Director of Human Resources Sandra Reed, the average length a professor will stay on campus is 12.2 years. The longest employed professor in history was Joseph Foegen, professor of business administration and management, who worked at Winona State from 1958 to 2009, and the current professor who has been at the university the longest is Marvin Wolfmeyer, professor of economics, who has taught since 1969.
Winona State was the first established normal school west of the Mississippi, founded in 1858. Since then, it has evolved into a nationally recognized university, with a mission “to enhance the intellectual, social, cultural and economic vitality of the people and communities we serve,” according to the university’s statement.
The joy of learning and sharing that knowledge with students brought Mark Young, professor of marketing, to Winona State, who decided to stay because he enjoys the campus, and thinks the community is a good place to work and live.
Young has worked at the university since 1980, starting when he was just 23 years old.
He recalled the time when the marketing department was on the third floor of Somsen Hall, with no air conditioning.
“We would have the windows open on a hot day, and a bee would fly in,” Young said. “Students would scramble.”
Since then, marketing has been moved to the first floor of Somsen. In addition to this change, Young remembers parking on the campus when there had been streets through campus instead of sidewalks. It was more of a downtown atmosphere, Young said.
“Physically the campus has changed a great deal, the buildings have been very significant,” Young said. “The library, the science engineering building and the wellness center, have shaped wheat we think of the campus and how we interact with the students and the campus.”
With a great facilities crew the grounds have improved, Young said, with the addition of trees and plants, and in his opinion, Winona State became one of the prettiest campuses in the country.
Besides the physical facilities changing, the technology has also changed, according to Young. Campus has gone from having a couple of computer lab rooms, and using punch cards for running computer programs, to now having laptops, iPads, phones; and technology has transformed how students learn, Young said.
With the evolution of technology, classrooms have become more interactive and less traditional-lecture style, Young said. For instance, the marketing classrooms no longer have desks that stare at the professor, but round tables.
“We now have a much diversified, very high quality faculty,” Young said. “We have a higher level quality of faculty that has more emphasis on staying current, active and engaged with students and with their disciplines.”
Community interaction has also changed since Young began at Winona State.
“When I first came, it seemed like the community thought of us as a sort of ivory tower,” Young said. “There was a lot of negative press with the student conduct back and forth downtown; and in those early years, there was talk about closing the university down.”
In 1982, Young did an economic study, on the impact of Winona State on the economy. Back then, it was a 59 million dollar impact, and once that was recognized, it reshaped the relationship between the community and the school.
The study showed how tied the university and the community are, and Young said relationship is not only economical but it also involves theatre, art and athletics. He sees that especially in the college of business, and its relationship with local businesses. An example of this would be the Wincraft Super Bowl Day, which exposed students to what the company has to offer. Fastenal Day is also approaching, which will bus students over to have tours, Young said.
“Almost every area has seen extremely positive changes,” Young said. “The environment is what you make it, but it provides opportunity to what you need to do.”
Young has had numerous opportunities to leave, but has not found anywhere he would prefer over Winona State.
“I am here because of choice. I think you would find that across the college, long tenure faculty. Once they come they enjoy it and stay,” he said.
Young finds motivation in helping students realize what their goals, dreams and ambitions are. He enjoys providing the encouragement, knowledge or reference to start them on the right track.
“After years of doing that, you start seeing some of that payback and their success. A lot of my students now are in the peak of their careers in upper level management positions, and impacting different companies,” he said. “There is that kind of intrinsic motivation of helping others but also what you get back as a faculty.”
Similarly to Young, John Vivian has been connected to Winona State for almost three decades. When Vivian first arrived at the university in 1982, there was not a journalism department, but there were journalism classes in the English department starting in 1966. He was the first chair of the mass communication department, which started in early 1980s by pulling courses from English and speech and borrowing faculty.
The university has seen some notable changes under various leadership, and some of them have been extraordinary, according to Vivian.
When he first started teaching, the first president who changed campus during his time was Tom Stark, Vivian said. The university faculty had run the previous president out of town and the administration was dealing with a new union, which caused a lot of tension. Tom Stark was chosen as president in 1983, and he had one goal: to make peace.
Vivian said Stark was good at that; he was a former superintendent. He was a horrible university president, though, who was smiley, a backslapper, and made people feel good, Vivian said.
Stark died in office of a heart attack while still fairly young. He achieved his goal and made the university more peaceable and faculty learned how to act together, Vivian said.
The next university president was Darrell Krueger, who was president for 14 years from 1989 to 2005. Krueger had a great sense of democracy and free expression, according to Vivian, and he let the university govern itself.
Krueger is the one who gave the university the motto, which has changed over the years to what it is now, “A Community of Learners Improving Our World.”
He fell asleep often, Vivian said. He fell asleep when Governor Jesse Ventura was on campus giving a speech and a photographer for the Winonan took a photo of him.
“He had some problems, perhaps narcolepsy. There was a story about him falling asleep while driving his car on Huff and Sarnia, and somebody had honked to wake him. Maybe he worked long hours and was tired,” Vivian said.
Krueger was good for the university, and Stark got the place settled down. The president after Krueger was Judith Ramaley, who was terrible, Vivian said. She arrived after being fired from the University of New Hampshire, because she cancelled the hockey season after the hockey coach lied to her about something, Vivian said, and they asked her to resign and she did.
“She was such an unpleasant human,” Vivian said. “She wanted to establish an academic stamp on the university, to make it more intellectually respectable. That is an insult to the community, we’ve always had some fine scholars here.”
Ramaley hated the press, she was a control freak, and she was snarley,Vivian said. She would go to conferences, as presidents do, and hired a limo to bring her to the airport at the university’s expense. Now there is a rule stating one cannot rent a limo using the university’s money, Vivian said.
The current president is Scott Olson who took over for Ramaley after she retired in 2012.
Vivian has a lot of respect for Olson because his stamp isn’t all over the place. Vivian said he listens, watches, and deals with crisis situations well. He puts his students first, and there is no covering up problems. If there is a problem, it is addressed; and he knows this well because he is a journalist, according to Vivian.
“The students focus on classes, but the quality of the university is very much a product of the leadership,” Vivian said.
Students keep Vivian motivated, and he enjoys keeping in touch with past students and seeing their achievements.
He never teaches a class the same way twice, because there is no perfect way. Vivian said some teaching styles work well with some students, and not well with others. Vivian’s teaching is fueled by his textbook writing, and one of his textbooks is going into its twelfth edition this month.
Before coming to Winona State, Vivian worked at the Associated Press and was tired of working odd shifts and hours.
One Thanksgiving evening he had friends over, and was confiding in them how unsure he was of continuing his current position at the AP. He then decided to pursue teaching. His first teaching role was at Marquette University, and he has not regretted teaching since. Vivian went to New Mexico State University to build a journalism program with a friend who was department chair. It never worked out, and he came to Winona State.
“Winona State is a high quality institution for its size and considering its roots as a teachers’ college,” Vivian said.
Vivian plans to stay here for the rest of his career.
“They’ll have to carry me out,” he said.
During the same year, Winona State welcomed another mass communications professor.
Originally from India, Daniel worked for an international radio station in Ethiopia and became acquainted with broadcasting before coming to the U.S. At the time, the company was shutting down and he had the choice of staying in Africa or studying in the U.S. for higher education.
“I had always wanted to go to the U.S., even when I was a little boy. This was a good chance for me,” Daniel said.
In 1977, when he was 29, Daniel flew to the U.S. to start his college path at Southern Illinois University, where he stayed until 1981.
As an international student, he had to find a job right after graduation if he wanted to keep staying in the U.S. Daniel said when he was first applying for jobs, he was offered to teach at SIU for one year in the mass communication department.
Daniel said he was scared at first because he had never taught and thought he could not measure up to the other teachers. He was diffident but excited to have a possibility to stay in the country. When the other teachers showed their support and encouraged him to try to teach, Daniel decided to gratefully accept the offer.
After two semesters, Daniel said he had to start applying to other places because the position lasted one year only. He then applied to 47 universities and got six offers out of all the applications he had sent. The job offers were from universities in California, New York, South Dakota and other states, Daniel said.
“The one thing that made me want to come here is that Winona State gave me a chance to teach and manage a radio station also. That’s what attracted to me,” Daniel said.
In 1982, Daniel began his teaching journey at Winona State University and managed the KQAL radio station half the time and taught the other half in the department of mass communication. In 2008, Daniel switched to full time teaching.
When Daniel first started teaching at Winona State, the campus had a different appeal. Many structures were replaced and renovated. For instance, Daniel said there were tennis courts where the library is currently located and the library used to be in Maxwell Hall.
Daniel said the university population was 4,300 students in the 1980s, but the university knew there was a high need to grow. Because the university needed more space to fit more students, Daniel said, officials started buying more lands and homes and it expanded all the way to West campus, that used to be a residential college.
When technology was entering people’s lives, Daniel said he had to adapt his style of teaching consequently. Between 1991 and 1993, Daniel said, the departments became computer-oriented, which represented a big change from typewriters.
“It was hard. In those days, faculty did not know how to use the computers and had to learn everything from scratch,” Daniel said.
In 1992, Daniel bought his first desktop Macintosh, which sat in his house for eight months because he did not know how to use it. Little by little, he gained more knowledge on the use of computers and started applying the new resources in his classes.
“Once you start making mistakes, the rest is all history,” Daniel said.
Daniel is now a retiring professor who has taught general mass communication courses, from Mass Media theory to International broadcasting.
Not only did he adapt to technology changes, but he also had to mold himself with the times, as well as his thinking and perspectives. When it comes to teaching, Daniel said he has never compromised academic discipline through his career.
“Students should know when they come here that studying in a university is a privilege, not an entitlement,” Daniel said. “Every single student is important to me.”
Daniel said he tells students he believes in them and adopts a strict teaching style because to him, they do not represent students only, but they represent a piece of America’s future.
When students disagree at his thinking because their way of life is different than his, Daniel’s goal is always the same; bringing the students to a certain level of excellence. After 35 years of teaching, Daniel said students have kept him motivated to do his job.
“One day after students graduate, they will be part of this society. I can’t let them fail, because if I do so, I fail myself,” Daniel said. “I only want to be part of successes.”
Sometimes, Daniel said his position as a second language professor became challenging and he found himself in situations of disrespect from students and others.
When he was still a growing professor, he received complaints from two students who were involved with the national broadcasting society and quickly became his ‘enemies,’ he said. They approached the Dean and explained the problems they had with Daniel’s behavior as the advisor of the society.
Daniel said he showed his paper records and all the proof he could to demonstrate they were wrong. Throughout the conversation, the Dean said there was a problem of miscommunication and language barrier among them. Her response made Daniel feel disrespected, Daniel said, but he still maintained his position and said he had learned English as a second language, instead of simply picking it up, so she was not qualified to correct him.
“Abuse can knock you over but if you have confidence in yourself, you will make it through,” Daniel said.
Daniel said teaching can have its ups and downs, but it is also creative and it requires taking a big responsibility. Many times, students write back to him after they graduate and thank him.
“That’s my reward. If the students are honest with themselves, they will appreciate what I do,” Daniel said.
The professors all came with different motivations, backgrounds and experiences, but they all have similar reasons for staying at Winona State. Over the years, the university has gone through major changes, and professors like Young, Vivian and Daniel had to shape their teaching and methodologies to meet new demands. As they are retiring soon, new faculty will take their place and continue to shape the university.
As they lifted their arms gently and steadily in different directions, the flowing movements of a group of 30 older adults were coordinated in grace and balance.
Tai Chi is one of the most popular classes offered at the Winona Friendship Center that gathers many on a weekly basis, Malia Fox, director of the Friendship Center said.
With more than a thousand members and a great number of programs, the Friendship Center is suffering from a lack of space. This has caused concern among members and administrators at the center.
To accommodate all of its programs, Fox said the center has expressed the desire to move to a different location.
“The process has been going at a slow pace but I see this happening soon,” Fox said.
Back in the 1960s, the Winona Friendship Center was located at the west and east ends of town, then it moved to the Valley View Tower in 1969 as people were starting to show more interest. In 1980, the center opened on the first floor of the Historic Masonic Theater on Main Street and has been there since.
“We needed a more permanent home,” Fox said.
The committee knew the demographic of the center would continue to grow and could have used the second floor of the building as well. That never occurred, Fox said.
During an Engage Winona event a couple years ago, many people said changes at the center were needed. The event revolved around a series of focus groups that asked participants questions regarding issues and problems the community was facing and ways to improve them.
“Out of all the ideas, one of them was to pull a community center together,” Fox said.
According to Fox, this idea would involve children to senior citizens. One of the main goals of the center, which goes along with a new location, would aim to dismiss ageist attitudes and get past culturally driven myths.
“We wanted to break down the myth that some classes or activities are meant for older adults only,” Fox said. “We need to engage with everyone. We can’t know about each other’s issues if we are not in relationship.”
Winona Friendship Center Program Coordinator Laura Hoberg said a new intergenerational development component would allow people of all ages to take part in programs together.
Sometimes, Hoberg said, people think older adults do not want to be connected with younger people. Members at the center see the new multi-generational center as a great opportunity to engage in meaningful and different kinds of interactions.
“There’s a really positive feeling from the community members,” Hoberg said. “Everybody brings different perspectives and ideas.”
A new location would meet some of the center’s needs in terms of changing the layout of the center that, Fox said, is not conducive for the members. In a recent evaluation, Fox said people felt uncomfortable walking through the main hall to access other rooms in the building. Because of the layout, sounds easily travel down the hallway, which might distract members who are taking a class.
Moreover, Fox is aware the center lacks a parking lot and does not provide an easy access to the main door.
According to Fox, the process of relocation may take years.
Some of the concerns include costs involved, and replacement of the center with another potential structure. The center is seeking to relocate either at the East Recreation Center or become part of a collaborative project between Winona Health and the Winona YMCA.
Despite its need for a bigger structure, the center has continued to grow through the years. Being the only structure in the state of Minnesota that is nationally accredited, Fox said, members in Winona have access to the best programs and facilities.
“People rely on us; they feel welcomed,” Fox said. “Their voices are heard.”
Diane Stevens was one of the members following the soft melody playing in the background as she was trying to maintain a straight posture.
For Stevens, Thai Chi was the answer to her physical health.
Stevens has been involved with the Tai Chi class at the Winona Friendship Center for more than 10 years and is taking an arthritis class as well. She said she had to take some time off when she started having serious health problems.
“I was in the back of the room in a wheel chair and worked my way up to the front,” Stevens said. “I wouldn’t be walking if it wasn’t for Thai Chi.”
Stevens said she believes the center could improve its space, because it is currently offering a big room only, where most of the activities take place, and smaller ones that do not fit large groups of people.
Through the years, member Dorothy Duellman has learned how the center operates and noticed how a bigger space would allow instructors to set up activities in separate rooms, without having to rush from one activity to another, she said. Ideally, she would like to see a swimming pool as well.
Duellman has been a member of the center since 2004 and said she visits the wellness center three times a week to keep herself active and plays cards from time to time.
“A lot of the programs help seniors stay more active and healthy,” Duellman said.
With her experience as a long-term member, Duellman said she appreciates how the center is always looking for new, innovative ways to help older adults and support them.
“It’s really a growing organization,” Duellman said.
One of the programs that has been consistent over time is the health and wellness center, which attracts many for exercise programs from yoga mat to zumba classes. Recently, the center has seen a push towards educational programming, encouraging older adults to be challenged not only physically, but also mentally.
About 100 people walk through the building’s main door every day for many different programs, Fox said. Many members today join the center after being in rehabilitation, and hope to continue their healing process there. Others attend the center for their own physical wellbeing.
Although the members bring to the center their own history and interests, for one to two hours of their day, they have the chance to be reunited in one place and take advantage of the center’s numerous programs.
“It’s a wonderful place,” Duellman said. “What I like about the center is that it focuses on keeping people healthy. It doesn’t separate people; it involves them in the community.”