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May 23
Eakins named Outstanding Postsecondary Administrator

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Bill Eakins has been named as the 2018 Outstanding Postsecondary Administrator by the Nebraska Career Education system. 

Eakins is Mid-Plains Community College's area dean of Career Services. He was nominated for the award by his colleagues and will be honored for his accomplishments June 5 during a NCE awards luncheon at the Younes Conference Center in Kearney. 

"Bill has a strong personal and professional commitment to Nebraska career education," his nomination letter reads. "He is to be lauded for his unwavering vision for implementing innovative career education services and his career-long goal of providing administrative leadership for outstanding student-centric [career and technical education] programming." 

Eakins is humbled by the award, but refuses to take full credit for it. 

"It's very rewarding to be recognized by people in the education profession and to be recognized for the various services that have been put in place in my time spent at the college," Eakins said. "I've always had a really dedicated and sincere staff who has tried to make MPCC a good place to get an education and to learn about expanding careers. When you have good people work for you all through the years, it makes the job a lot easier." 

A native of Paxton, Eakins has been in the field of education since 1970. He began his career as a teacher and coach at Loomis High School in Loomis. He then taught at Ogallala High School for a year and served as a career and tech education coordinator at ESU #16 for 10 years. 

"In 1985, MPCC had an opening for a director to head up what was called the 'Career Assessment Center'," said Eakins. "I got the job. I'm real proud of the fact that every service we implemented was created with the idea that it could serve any size of school district." 

In addition to area high schools, the Career Assessment Center was designed to serve college students, state agencies and industries. Under Eakins' leadership, award-winning career exploration programs were developed, beginning with the Career Awareness Laboratory for 10th graders.  

"The Career Awareness Laboratory provided additional support in career education and planning to counselors and administrators in our area schools," said Eakins. 

Eakins' department was also responsible for starting a dual credit program within MPCC's 18-county service area in 1991. 

"It was one of the most interesting and gratifying things we've ever done," Eakins said. "We started with a handful of credits and two schools – Arnold and Valentine. Now every high school in our service area takes advantage of MPCC's dual credit system. It accounts for 14 percent of our total enrollment." 

Eakins leadership also resulted in the following accomplishments: 

  • 1990 - Career Services became responsible for college admissions testing, the Transition Services program, Adult Basic Education and Tech Prep. 
  • 1996 - Career Services introduced ACT WorkKeys assessments and the interpretation of scores for high schools and business clients, creating awareness of industry standards for work-related skills and establishing a regional certification testing center. 
  • 2002 – Eakins became responsible for the oversight of Employment Services at MPCC, providing increased student engagement and collaboration with employers and alumni. 
  • 2010 – Eakins led efforts to initiate the Career Academy Pathways program using Nebraska Department of Education and Partnerships for Innovation guidelines. He also pledged to help provide sufficient credentialed college faculty to meet all high school requests for dual credit.

Eakins has presented at both regional and national career education conferences and has served on various career and technical education program advisory boards. 

Eakins was named Administrator of the Year by the Nebraska Community College Association in 2003, and the Career Services department was recognized as an Outstanding Career Education Program by NCE in 2009. 

Thanks to Eakins' efforts, in 2015, MPCC received the Career Preparedness Award from the Nebraska ACT State Organization and became a national finalist in ACT's College and Career Readiness Campaign. 

More information about MPCC's Career Services department and the resources it offers is available at: mpcc.edu/student-resources/career-services.

May 23
NPCC launches Summer Fine Arts Series

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Dance, theater, filmmaking, music, art – local youth will have the opportunity to explore all of those fields and more thanks to a Summer Fine Arts Series offered by North Platte Community College. Classes will begin this week and continue through July. 

"NPCC has partnered with local and regional artists to create workshops in visual and performing arts," said Jeff Smeltzer, Business and Community Education coordinator. "We are excited to be able to offer some great learning opportunities that hopefully will appeal to a wide variety of interests while still sharing an emphasis on creativity." 

Among other things, participants will learn how to make a pet collar, perform in a theater production, create dramatic stage makeup, produce a short film and dance to ballet, tap and jazz routines. 

There are options for all ages, including a dance class for preschoolers and improv and composer workshops for teens. 

More information about the fine arts series can be found online at mpcc.edu/bce. Registration can also be done at that link or by calling 535-3687. 

The series is made possible thanks to generous donations from the Johnny Carson Foundation, Great Western Bank and NPCC.

May 22
Active shooter training available to the public

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The Nebraska State Patrol and Mid-Plains Community College are joining forces for a project that could save lives. 

"Civilian Response to Active Killer Events" will be offered multiple times over the summer at the MPCC Ogallala Community Campus. The purpose of the free seminar is to teach people how to protect themselves during a shooting. 

"This training is designed specifically for civilians to know how to react in the worst situations," said Col. John Bolduc, NSP superintendent. "The CRAKE course helps Nebraskans be more prepared and have a plan of response to increase their likelihood of survival." 

That doesn't always mean a one size fits all approach. 

"As we've seen around the country, every active shooter situation can be different," said NSP Training Academy Sergeant Paul Hagen. "We want to equip people with the mindset and thought process to help them realize what's happening, be decisive and act." 

According to Trooper Darrell Crawford, CRAKE focuses on three steps: avoid, deny and defend. He's organizing the trainings in Ogallala and is hopeful that all businesses and organizations will take advantage of the opportunity to educate their employees. 

Ogallala Community Campus Coordinator Mary Pierce said the course will be offered once per month to accommodate busy summer schedules. 

The trainings are planned for 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. June 11, July 9 and Aug. 13 at the campus location, 512 E. B St. S., in Ogallala. Pre-registration is required by calling (308) 284-9830 or emailing piercem@mpcc.edu

May 22
Nine MPCC rodeo team members qualify for nationals

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Garrett Wickett, of Norfolk, rides a bull in Fort Dodge, Iowa. For the second year in a row, Wickett is heading to nationals as the top bull rider in the Great Plains Region. (Photo courtesy of Tim Fuchs and TFC Photography)

Mid-Plains Community College will send a record number of contestants to the College National Finals Rodeo this year. 

Nine MPCC rodeo team members will compete at the CNFR in Casper, Wyo. June 10-16. Those include the team's first woman CNFR qualifier, Mykelsi Schnose, as well as the now two-time regional bull riding champ Garrett Wickett. 

Altogether, the delegates consist of: 

  • Garrett Wickett, Norfolk – bull riding 
  • Mykelsi Schnose, Oelrichs, S.D. – breakaway roping 
  • Reed Murray, of Belvue, Kan., and Lane Kennedy, of Orleans - team roping 
  • Chandler Comfort, Elwood, and Wyatt Killion, Ainsworth – team roping
  • Sawyer Strand, Harrisburg, S.D.  – steer wrestling 
  • Tyler Murray, McCook – steer wrestling 
  • Riley Weehler, Maloy, Iowa – calf roping 

Overall, MPCC will enter nationals second in the Great Plains Region in the men's team standings and third in the women's team standings. 

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Mykelsi Schnose, of Oelrichs, S.D., teaches a Kids Klub member how to rope at the Wild West Arena in North Platte. Schnose is the first woman to qualify for nationals as part of the Mid-Plains Community College Rodeo Team.  

"We finished second in the men's team standings by 36 points. That's less than one go-round win by one person," said Dustin Elliott, MPCC Rodeo Team rough stock coach. "Of course every year you want to win, but sending more contestants to nationals is proof that our program is going in the right direction. And, to send our first girl to the CNFR – that's pretty awesome." 

Schnose rounded out the season third in the breakaway roping. Her efforts are largely what propelled MPCC to its third place finish in the women's team standings. 

"I was really happy for Mykelsi," said Garrett Nokes, MPCC Rodeo Team timed event coach. "She's one of the hardest workers, and I really respect her try and ability. She had a terrible fall, never even scored a point, and it was really getting her down. Then, over the winter, she put in a lot of work and went to a couple clinics. That extra effort paid off in getting her to the CNFR." 

It's the second year in a row that Wickett has been at the top of the leaderboard going into the bull riding at the national finals. He ended the season with 546 points – 66 points ahead of second place finisher Hunter Draeger of Iowa Central Community College. 

"To me, as a coach, that feels pretty good," Elliott said. "Wickett could have left the program after he got his degree, but he chose to come back for a third year to gain more experience. To see him be successful like that is big because I watched him grow. He's got the opportunity to go on to the next level, and I'm glad he won." 

A send-off celebration is planned for the team from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. June 6 at Schmick's Market in McCook. Rib eye sandwiches, chips, cookies and a drink will be available for a free-will donation. 

May 17
Petersen named MPCC Valentine Community Campus coordinator

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Carolyn Petersen sits at her desk at the MPCC Valentine Community Campus on Wednesday. Petersen has been named the new campus coordinator.

A familiar face is greeting visitors at the Mid-Plains Community College campus in Valentine. Carolyn Petersen has taken over as the new campus coordinator after serving as the part-time administrative assistant for the past three years. 

"I'm really excited about this opportunity," Petersen said. "I'm so passionate about the college experience Mid-Plains has to offer because I've lived it." 

Petersen had been out of school for nearly 40 years when she began taking classes through MPCC to prove to her children and grandchildren that it's never too late for an education. 

She graduated with an Associate of Applied Science Degree in Business and a certificate in Information Technology in December of 2016, while also maintaining three jobs. In addition to working for the college, Petersen was also employed at the post office and was the office manager for KVSH. 

"I learned a lot about this community and the area businesses because of the 13 years I spent at the radio station," Petersen said. "I made calls to all those places. Almost every business in town is or was a client of KVSH at one time or another." 

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Her familiarity with Valentine and its needs stems beyond an office setting, however. Petersen has lived in the community since 2002, which allowed her to bond with other residents, attend a variety of local events and develop an appreciation for all that Cherry County has to offer. 

"My daughter graduated from Valentine High School, and my grandchildren have been involved in dance, soccer, track, swim team and other youth activities," Petersen said. "Things like that helped me form a lot of personal connections in town." 

Those relationships, coupled with her marketing and accounting background gave Petersen the confidence to apply for the campus coordinator position. 

"MPCC's mission statement is: 'Transforming lives through exceptional learning opportunities for individual student success.' I feel like I'm the poster child for that because of everything that opened up for me after I took classes through the college," Petersen said. "Now, it's my turn to help others. I'm looking forward to sitting down with students one-on-one and guiding them on their paths to success." 

More information about the MPCC Valentine Community Campus is available online at mpcc.edu/campuses/valentine, or by calling (402) 376-8033. 

May 16
NPCC to host Registration Day

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North Platte Community College will offer an in-depth look at its programs and services during a Registration Day on May 22.

The event will begin at 10 a.m. It will give prospective students an opportunity to sign up for classes and receive the information needed to begin coursework in the fall.

Registration Day is more than just registering for classes, however. It also serves as a foundation - designed to keep prospective students on track and ensure they have a successful and rewarding experience at NPCC through graduation.

"Registration Days help our incoming students set up for success as they transition into their college career," said Mindy Hope, area director of Recruiting and Admissions. "During the events, the students meet the faculty and staff who will support them on their journey. We want students and parents to know how much we care about the students' success and to be aware of all the services we offer to assist them."

Students will be able to take placement tests, if needed, and campus tours will be available. Representatives will be on hand to answer questions about:

  • Class scheduling
  • Financial aid
  • Payment expectations
  • Bookstores
  • Career services
  • Advising
  • Library services
  • Student Success/tutors
  • Disability services
  • Student life
  • Student organizations
  • Campus housing 

Although not mandatory, parents are also encouraged to be part of Registration Day. There will be a session designed specifically for them.

Those interested in attending Registration Day are asked to RSVP at https://campus.mpcc.edu/ICS/First_Time_Student/. The first 50 to sign up will receive a free hoodie.

Additional Registration Days are planned for June 19 and July 31 in North Platte. More information is available by calling (800) 658-4308, ext. 3609.

May 14
MPCC recognizes employees for part-time service

Mid-Plains Community College has honored nine of its employees for their years of part-time service. The employees are:

25 years:

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MPCC Area Vice-President for Academic Affairs Dr. Jody Tomanek presents Mark Harwood, with a certificate recognizing his 25 years of part-time service to the college. Harwood is a lab assistant in the Auto Body department in North Platte.

15 years:

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MPCC Area Vice-President for Academic Affairs Dr. Jody Tomanek presents Hanford Lynn with a certificate recognizing his 15 years of part-time service to the college. Lynn works in the Physical Resources department in North Platte.

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MPCC Area Vice-President of Student Affairs Andy Long presents Shannon Corder with a certificate recognizing her 15 years of part-time service to the college. Corder works in the Student Success Center in McCook. 

10 years: 

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Dot Epting receives a certificate for 10 years of part-time service to MPCC from Area Vice-President for Academic Affairs Dr. Jody Tomanek. Epting works in the Student Success Center in North Platte. 

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Rex Heckenlively, of Imperial, receives a certificate for 10 years of part-time service to MPCC from Area Vice-President of Student Affairs Andy Long. Heckenlively is a tutor at the MPCC Imperial Community Campus.

Not pictured was Rodney Peters. Peters is a bus driver for MPCC. He was also honored with a certificate for 10 years of part-time service to the college.

5 years:

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Kally Vogl receives a certificate for five years of part-time service to MPCC from Area Vice-President of Student Affairs Andy Long. Vogl is an Adult Basic Education instructor at the MPCC Ogallala Community Campus.  Mary Faesser.jpg

Mary Faesser receives a certificate for five years of part-time service to MPCC from Area Vice-President of Student Affairs Andy Long. Faesser is an Adult Basic Education instructor at the MPCC Ogallala Campus. 

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MPCC Area Vice-President for Academic Affairs Dr. Jody Tomanek presents Mary Wiese with a certificate for five years of part-time service to the college. Wiese is a Welcome Center receptionist in North Platte.

May 10
MPCC accepting registrations for spring interim classes

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A MPCC student puts in some study time in North Platte earlier this year. Interim classes will begin at the college on Monday. 

Mid-Plains Community College will offer three-week interim classes beginning Monday. Interim is the period between the end of the spring semester and the start of summer sessions. 

Registration is now open. On-site, online and distance learning options are all available. The classes include: 

Input Keyboard Technology I – This 3-credit hour online class is an introduction to touch keyboarding using the alphabetic and figure symbol keys on a standard computer keyboard. Students will prepare basic documents such as business letters, memos, tables and reports and will be introduced to a popular word processing software application. 

College Prep Reading – The 3-credit hour reading skills course is designed to improve vocabulary, reading rate, comprehension and study skills so students can be successful in college. Students achieving a reading Accuplacer score between 43 and 73 or equivalent scores on the ACT or SAT are placed in this class. 

College Prep Writing - College Prep Writing is a review of grammar and sentence writing skills including use of words, parts of speech, parts of a sentence, agreement of subject and verb, punctuation of sentences, vocabulary development and paragraph development. This course strengthens English proficiency before attempting college composition. Students achieving a sentence skills Accuplacer score between 644 and 83, or equivalent scores on the ACT or SAT, or who have passed ENGL 0980 with a "C" or higher are placed in this class. The course is worth 3 credit hours and is available online. 

Genre Survey: Poetry – This 3-credit hour online class focuses on the elements and theories of poetry. It includes a study of selected poems stressing the development of a method of analysis and criticism. There is also an emphasis on critical discussion and writing. 

American History I to 1877 – This class is also worth 3 credit hours and is available online. It is a survey of American history from the Age of Discovery through the Civil War and Reconstruction. The emphasis is on the political, economic, cultural, social and technological issues that arose in the development of the American nation. 

Math for Health Occupations – This 2-credit hour class provides a review of the four fundamental operations of fractions and decimals, Roman numerals, ratio and proportion, percentages and the metric, English, apothecary and household systems of measurement. 

Nursing Assistant - This 4-credit hour course trains non-licensed individuals to provide safe, effective and caring services to patients, residents and clients in a variety of health care settings. Upon successful completion of the course, students will receive a certificate of completion from MPCC and will qualify for placement on the State of Nebraska Nurse Aide Registry. 

It is recommended that those interested in registering for any of these classes make an appointment with an advisor by calling (308) 535-3701 in North Platte or (308) 345-8102 in McCook. 

MPCC provides numerous scholarships, grants and loans to qualified students. For more information about financial assistance, call (308) 535-3705 in North Platte, or (308) 345-8112 in McCook. 

May 09
Karre named HVAC “Head of the Class”

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Zach Karre has been named "Head of the Class" for the Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning and Refrigeration Technology program at North Platte Community College. 

The honor is part of a student recognition conducted by Malco Products, the nation's leading manufacturer of HVAC industry tools. 

Since 2005, Malco's "Head of the Class" program has reached over 45,000 students representing more than 550 technical school, union JATC and industry association career education programs across the U.S. and Canada. 

Karre was selected based on his attendance, participation, grades and internship experience. He was presented with a certificate, baseball cap and 33- pocket HVAC backpack from Malco on Wednesday in the college's HVAC classroom. His classmates also received Malco caps. 

Pictured left to right are: NPCC HVAC students Johnathan Rodriguez, Holyoke, Colo.; Kiffen Cook, Elsie; Aaron Wright, Ogallala; Instructor Rex Kemp and students Zach Karre and Hunter Kelley, both of North Platte; Jaret Matson, McCook and George Haws, North Platte.

May 09
Ag workshop to focus on livestock grazing

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Livestock grazing will be the final topic in an agriculture seminar series offered by Mid-Plains Community College and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension Services. 

Jerry Volesky, a range and forage specialist for UNL, will present "Grazing Considerations for the Upcoming Year" from 6-8 p.m. May 14. 

The presentation will cover the basic principles of a good grazing management program. Those will include pasture production, stocking rates, rotational grazing systems, timing of grazing and pasture grass response. Volesky will also offer drought preparedness strategies and explain how to maintain proper grazing records. 

The workshop will be in Room 209 of the W. W. Wood Building on the North Platte Community College North Campus, 1101 Halligan Drive in North Platte. The session will be live-streamed to MPCC's other campuses in McCook, Broken Bow, Imperial, Ogallala and Valentine. 

The workshop is free and open to the public, but pre-registration is required. Registrations will be accepted up until the day of the workshop at mpcc.edu/bce, or by calling (308) 535-3678. 

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Heather Johnson
Area Communications Specialist

Heather produces and distributes press releases for the college. She began work at MPCC in 2014. Prior to that, she spent five years as the news director/web manager for Eagle Radio in North Platte. From 2009-2014 she worked as a reporter/photographer for The North Platte Telegraph. Heather has a bachelor's degree in journalism from Chadron State College.

Brent L. Cobb
McCook Community College News Bureau Coordinator​