Allamakee Business and Community Board collaborates with businesses and local teachers

Two area high school instructors are utilizing the experience they gained through local externships this past summer to enhance their teaching in the classroom this school year. Waukon High School Industrial Technology teacher Caleb Ferring (pictured above) gained knowledge and experience to enhance his classroom teaching through an externship at Benjegerdes Machine in Waukon, and Kee High School Agriculture and Industrial Technology Instructor Ray Rankin (pictured below) did likewise with an externship through Gruber Ridge Ag in rural Lansing. Submitted photos.

The Allamakee Business and Community Board convened November 17 to collaborate with businesses and local career and technical education teachers. Ray Rankin, Kee High School Agriculture/Industrial Technology teacher, and Caleb Ferring, Waukon High School Industrial Technology teacher, discussed externships they participated in this past summer.

During an externship, educators work side-by-side with knowledgeable and skilled industry employees who help bring the classroom curriculum to life. Teacher externships provide educators with the exposure to answer questions about real-world application, prepare students for careers they may have in the future and improve educational experiences.

Rankin did an externship at Gruber Ridge Ag located outside of Lansing last summer. Gruber Ridge is a 2,500-head sow farm managed by Waukon Feed Ranch. Rankin stated, "I had zero experience with swine, and since Iowa is the nation's leader in swine production I wanted to learn some things about it that I could take back to my classroom to share with my students. What better way than hands on!"

Rankin was treated just like the crew. He learned a lot and didn't realize everything that takes place in a sow farm. There are a lot of bio-security precautions that are followed everyday, such as showering in and showering out which helps to prevent the pigs from getting sick. There is also a lot of paperwork and record keeping that is involved, which is important for improvement of genetics and production practices at the farm.

Rankin said he has a newfound respect for the swine industry and the people that work in this area. This was a very positive experience for him, and he said that businesses should consider having a teacher externship as the teachers become a recruiting tool for the business.

Ferring did an externship at Benjegerdes Machine, Inc. in Waukon last summer. Ferring’s background is in construction, so he was excited to get some experience with metals. During his externship he learned to perfect his welding skills and also learned the importance of the design process. Ferring learned how to work with stainless steel and did TIG welding for the first time. He said he had a great experience and is looking into doing another externship next summer.

During the November 17 meeting, career and technical education teachers from Waukon High School and Kee High School collaborated with local businesses. Topics discussed included workforce skills needed in the county, what types of software and technology businesses use and how businesses can connect with teachers and their students.

The board’s next meeting is April 13, 2018 at 7:30 a.m. at the NICC Waukon Center. The Allamakee County Business and Community Board, formed with the assistance of Northeast Iowa Community College (NICC), provides critical, impactful connections between businesses, educators, economic development and workforce agencies. The objective is to serve stakeholders through the exchange of information and implementation of workforce solutions based on shared goals and human capital needs, leading to measurable results to help grow local businesses and communities.

To learn more about the Allamakee County Business and Community Board, contact Erica Nosbisch, NICC Waukon Center director, at 563-568-3060 or

Rate this article: 
No votes yet