Legislators Listened

University of Wisconsin - River Falls

Feb. 23, 1996

Legislators Liked Students' Enthusiasm

By Faith Kammerdiener
UW-River Falls News Bureau

Local legislators from River Falls and neighboring districts believe the Agriculture Assembly hearing held Thursday benefits UW-River Falls students and legislators.

"It brings legislators from other parts of the state to our part of the state," said Rep. Bob M. Dueholm (D-Luck). He said the hearing allows legislators to get a chance to "hear some different points of view." Since most hearings are held in Madison, many students and citizens don't have the opportunity to attend, he said.

"It gives students a chance to participate," Dueholm said.

He also said that the hearing allows legislators to hear fresh ideas that will hopefully increase funding for higher education in agriculture since many students believe that the University is lacking in cutting-edge technology, especially computers. Even though there is no major legislative action now, Dueholm said that legislators will keep this in mind.

Over all, Dueholm said he was very impressed that students shared their ideas. "It's good to see so many willing to offer thoughts," Dueholm said. He also said he was pleased to see that there are so many opportunities for agriculture students, especially for agriculture education majors.

According to Dueholm, the University benefits from the hearing by providing more visibility to the campus. "It gives the University a chance to show off and to expose 10 of the 99 Assembly members to what River Falls has to offer."

Rep. Barbara Gronemus (D-Whitehall) also believes that students benefited from the hearing. "It gives students an opportunity to present testimony as it relates to higher education," she said. Gronemus, who is the former chair of the committee, said that the hearing helps legislators gain a better understanding of what students need, and a better feeling about how the higher education system works.

Gronemus said she was impressed with how positive the students were. "That is such a plus," Gronemus said. She also said that it is very evident that many students come here for the student-staff interaction. Legislators need to fund the University in such a way that student enthusiasm and staff interaction isn't lost, Gronemus said.

According to Gronemus, the hearing provides some visibility for legislators, too. "Students were impressed that we listened," Gronemus said. She said the hearing gives students an opportunity to learn who stands up against Joint Finance Committee's budget writing when members cut agricultural spending in order to balance Wisconsin's state budget.

Sen. Alice Clausing (D-Menomonie) also said she was very impressed with students' enthusiasm at the hearing. She hopes that the committee's presence will help foster this enthusiasm. Clausing hoped that her presence at the hearing would encourage young people to get involved in the legislative process, especially since Wisconsin is losing about 1,000 farms a year. "I am very concerned about farming in the state of Wisconsin," Clausing said.

Rep. Sheila Harsdorf (R-River Falls) also expressed some positive feedback on the agriculture hearing. "I think it's great that they (legislators) are coming to see what the College of Agriculture has to offer," Harsdorf said. "This type of opportunity is very valuable in getting people to our part of the state. Hopefully, they (the legislators) will gain a better understanding of what the needs in agriculture are and what they need to be aware of."

According to Harsdorf, the Assembly provides an opportunity to share as well as provide information. "Any time you break out to the public, it's a plus," Harsdorf said. "I think hearing from students is also beneficial." Legislators need to "have a good understanding of what our future leaders have to say," she said.

She said the hearing outlined the need for equipment, but it also highlighted the closeness of the college, and that faculty put an effort into teaching students.

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