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Business Projects Sought for Experiential Learning Course

By Trista Gropp

Nov. 5, 2010--Faculty in the College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences (CAFES) at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls are looking for businesses and organizations with projects they would like teams of university students to tackle, under the guidance of faculty mentors, as part of an experiential learning course.

Each semester, CAFES offers the course that requires teams of students to apply their academic skills to the completion of a project defined by a business or an organizational client. The course is typically taken in the student’s senior year and is the culmination of the student's academic career. It is intended that the experience of completing this project will bridge the gap between the student's academic and professional careers.

In addition, Steve DeWald, director of UWRF’s Small Business Development Center, mentors the students on multiple aspects of business planning and feasibility studies.

Clients are generally expected to pay a small fee to cover the cost of producing the deliverables. Benefits to the business/organizational client include having more than 800 hours devoted to a project with possible end products being feasibility studies, design analyses, financial analyses, business plans, marketing plans and prototypes. In the course of their work, project teams draw on the expertise of faculty mentors and other UWRF faculty and staff.

Past clients have included the St. Croix County Energy Task Force and Bennett Nursery of Pepin.

“We are still using the energy conservation worksheet that the students developed back in spring 2009 to help us reduce county energy use,” says St Croix County Community Natural Resource and Economic Development Agent Pete Kling.

If you are interested in having your project considered for the upcoming spring semester, contact Juliet Tomkins, lecturer, by Dec. 1 at juliet.tomkins@uwrf.edu or call 715-425-3298.



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