View from the {outdoor} classroom

My take on life as a Natural Resources student at Fox Valley Tech

Ichthyology, Wastewater & Engineering Rain Gutters February 10, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — Fox Valley Technical College @ 3:06 pm

Classes are back into full swing. I just took an exam on common fishes of Wisconsin in my Ichthyology class, where we were quizzed on Latin and common names, as well as visual identification and anatomy structures. I’ve conducted two lab experiments on wastewater quality testing pH, conductivity, temperature, and dissolved solids in water for my Wastewater Management class. And finally, I have started a project designing roof gutters for the FVTC Agriculture building for my Soils & Water Conservation and Engineering class. Talk about jumping in with both feet.

I caught onto the fish identification pretty easily, and our class was able to get in on a really unique opportunity to work with registering the sturgeon that are speared for the season next week, so I’ll be sure to share pictures and information from that when that happens. Wastewater has proven to be really interesting so far, and if you have the time to watch it, I suggest checking out the video “Crapshoot: A Gamble With Our Wastes,” which is a movie we watched in class about how we deal with our wastewater.

The roof gutter project has turned out to be the most difficult part for me so far, but it’s really interesting to learn about the engineering that goes into projects that are seemingly so simple. Last week we went out into the field to take measurements using a laser instruments to measure elevations and heights of the buildings. We’re all beginners, but you get the gist of it:

This week now we’re working in AutoCAD to draw up our own designs of gutter possibilities. Not going to lie, engineering rain gutters isn’t something that I thought I’d be learning when I started a Natural Resource program, but it definitely brings into view all the different aspects of the field. I’m excited to find out what else I’ll be learning to do this semester!


Back At It Again January 20, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — Fox Valley Technical College @ 9:25 am

Well after a winter break that went much too fast, we’re back to school for the Spring Semester.  It’s been a pretty eventful semester already, even after only the first week back. As some of you might have known, I was planning on taking AutoCad, Fish Management, Forest Recreation and Environmental Education, and Water Quality/Wastewater 2. After the first two class periods of Forest Recreation my teacher informed me that I don’t need to take the class after all, because past education and an internship qualifies me for advanced standing! Good news! That’s one less class standing between me and graduation. So I have a somewhat newly revised schedule due to some conflicts in time things are offered. I’m now signed up for Fish Management, Water Quality/Wastewater 2, and Soils and Water Conservation and Engineering.

Gosh do I owe the Enrollment Services staff a big Thank You. They were able to give me credit for the class, refund my money from it, enroll me in my new class, and get me my new schedule and study list all within a matter of maybe 10 minutes. Talk about a good day!

Other than that, it has been a pretty low-key first week back with 4 new syllabuses to review, and lots of outlines and projected schedules. Overall, this semester looks like it might be a tough one, but definitely an interesting one!


Four-point-oh: Think I Can Do It? January 5, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — Fox Valley Technical College @ 3:44 pm
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Oh, wow! Break is already half over! How time flies over the holidays.

I hope all of you had a safe and enjoyable holiday season and are enjoying the New Year so far. I got the pleasure to spend my midnight countdown at work, but it turned out to be a really great time! Everyone get around to making their New Year resolutions? I’ve decided to make a resolution for each one of the big aspects of my life, one of those being my education. As those of you who are current students or faculty know, FVTC grades on a straight letter grade (A, B, C, etc.) without any of the pluses or minuses involved.  This last semester I pulled an A in each one of my classes except one, where I was a mere percent away from an A.  Although I am pleased with a 3.917 GPA, that one percent has given me motivation to set my New Year’s resolution for my education to be to get a 4.000 GPA this semester, all A’s! Setting the bar high, but that’s the only way that you can find out what you are truly capable of doing.

However, with that kind of high set goal I think that I will be spending a lot of time in the library…which is okay with me, because I love the place. The library offers to students private study rooms for group get-togethers, subscriptions to lots of magazines and online journals, printing and copying services, tons of computers, hole punching and staplers, movie rentals, and best of all comfy chairs to read in!

Bring it on Spring Semester!


Finals week is officially OVER! December 22, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — Fox Valley Technical College @ 3:40 pm

Finally I have completed my first semester at Fox Valley Technical College. It’s been a semester of transition and change, but I came out of it alive. Now that it’s done, I can’t believe that I ever had a doubt about coming to school here, and that I had so many worries on my mind. It was surprisingly easy to adjust to the school and there was always someone there to help me through it.


In the end I would say that my favorite class was Exploring Natural Resources, because it really opened my eyes to all of the different jobs that I can pursue with my degree once I earn it, and we got to experience all of them first-hand through job-shadowing field trips. Plant Identification I thought was a really good course because it familiarized me with a lot of different plant species I’ll be working with in the future. Math was a good refresher and Economics was interesting, since I’ve never studied it before. My hardest class was Natural Resources Common Topics, but it was the class that I feel gave me the most useful knowledge. It was tough, but a little application and I pulled off a great semester…now only three more to go!


I hope everyone has a safe and happy holiday season, and cross your fingers for some snow!


Faculty Spotlight: Q&A with Scott Heinritz December 8, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — Fox Valley Technical College @ 8:50 am

With last week being a shorter week due to the holidays, and half of my classes being cancelled for traveling and hunting, I figured I’d take this time to let you guys get to know one of my personal favorite teachers of my first semester: Scott Heinritz. I have yet to meet another person in this world so eager to help me succeed in my educational journey. Scott is truly invested in his students and his work at Fox Valley Technical College and has proved to already be an amazing instructor. Here is what he has to say…

FVTC instructor Scott Heinritz

Tell me about your background and how you got to FVTC.

I started out with getting my Bachelor of Science Degree in Water Quality/Fisheries Biology from UW-Superior. After that I got a job working for the US Environmental Protection Agency in their National Freshwater Lab in Duluth, Minnesota working in Environmental Toxicology. I stayed there for about 10 years before taking a job as an Environmental Manager at a paper company where I was in charge of all environmental compliance. Then I took a job here at Fox Valley Technical College and have been here about 4 years.

What classes do you teach at FVTC?

I teach Exploring Natural Resources, Ecology, Water Quality, Wastewater, Water Supply and some Plant ID.

If you had any advice for students just starting out in this program, what would it be?

I would actually have three things to tell them:

  1. Take your studies seriously. Time goes by so fast at a technical college. Two years may seem like a long time, but it is here and gone before you know you it. For a lot of students the first year is a growing stage, and then year two you’re already graduating.
  2. Gain as much experience as you can. Set yourself apart from others to employers. Volunteer, do extra work, internships, or limited term employment.
  3. Have fun!

What do you find to be the biggest hurdle or challenge for students in this program?

The biggest hurdle I see is trying to budget time to study. Students are busy with family, jobs, obligation, children, taking care of parents, whatever it may be. Study time vs. obligations seems to be the biggest issue.

What is your favorite part of teaching at FVTC?

The Students! I love to watch them all grow as they go through the program. At some point in every student’s career a light comes on for them, and I love to be a part of that.


Time flies! November 29, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — Fox Valley Technical College @ 2:47 pm

Alright, fast-forward 3 months from new student orientation and you’ll get to exactly where I’m at now. Where is that? Well so far I’ve been a student at Fox Valley Technical College for approximately 14 weeks now, and I have already done a plethora of new and exciting, skillful and useful, strange and exciting things. What kind of things you ask? I’ve already seen the process of water treatment, toured a fish hatchery, calculated the flow of Mud Creek, visited a landfill and recycling center, blown up a beaver dam, made a map of the Bordini Center using only a compass, learned how to identify tons of Wisconsin plants, and went bird-watching on a wildlife refuge. Whew! Talk about a busy first semester! Even having all that done, I still haven’t completed the semester yet…with almost 4 weeks left until the end of the year, we have hit crunch time!

I feel like this is a good time to talk about the Teaching and Learning Center. What is it? It’s a straight up godsend. Their mission says it all: to provide access to supplemental academic support to improve learning outcomes for FVTC program students through engagement with faculty and peer tutors. Basically do whatever they can to help you understand your course materials and get you through the work with as little as struggle possible. You know the best part of it? It’s staffed by the faculty that teaches the classes themselves or by peer tutors who have firsthand knowledge of the material! Not to mention they are open 6 days a week. This is just one more way that FVTC has once again catered to my needs. Now wish me luck on the upcoming 3 weeks before finals! It’s going to fly by!

Check out the Teaching and Learning Center >>


Hello world! November 16, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — Fox Valley Technical College @ 9:13 am

Terrified. Excited. Apprehensive. Scared.


These are all words I would use to describe how I felt standing in front of Fox Valley Technical College on my first day at my new school. I’m commuting from another city; I won’t know anyone.  I’ve never been here before; what if I get lost or can’t find my classrooms? I haven’t been in school for years; what if I don’t fit in? I’m coming from a 4-year college; what if I don’t “belong” here? I’m a female entering a male-dominated field; what if I feel uncomfortable?


It’s time to put my big girl pants on and push those questions aside. I made this decision to come back to school to enhance my career options, and I am going to stick to it! It is time to walk through those doors and start down the path towards a brighter future. Let’s get to it!


I’m restarting college again after a year-long break after completing two years at the University of Wisconsin – Stevens Point. I was in the Environmental Education program there, and today I am starting my first day of the Natural Resource Technician program at Fox Valley Technical College.


Today is actually the day before my first day of classes; I am here to attend “Pop Start”, a new student orientation. I figure the more help I can get adjusting to a new environment, the better.

If I have one thing to tell you about new student orientation it’s this: go to it. Within less than 10 seconds of being inside the doors, I was greeted by smiling faces and people eager to help.  Alright, so I guess with everyone being so friendly, what’s the big deal if I don’t know anyone? After they gave me free food and an array of helpful tools (a new backpack, a water bottle, pens, folders, you name it!) they gave me a tour and a map. Okay, so the school isn’t so hard to navigate and after a tour, my classes turn out to be super easy to find. We sit back down in the commons area to hear a welcome speech from the President of the school, and as she’s talking I take a look around the room.  It turns out I’m not the only one here who isn’t straight out of high-school. Large amounts of the people who I am sitting among are mothers and fathers, they are people coming to school for the first time in decades, and they are students with an array of different backgrounds and stories. Yeah, so I guess I do fit in after all. We then are released to talk to a number of people sitting at a number of booths to tell us about the services the college has to offer. As if she read my mind, a woman comes to talk to me about transfer credits. She tells me that it is very common that students come to Fox Valley Technical College from Universities, and she can help me figure out what credits will transfer and will get me on track for my program. Well that was easy enough, and I know for fact that I “belong” here now. But still, I’m out-numbered by males. Oh, wait! Here comes another woman to tell me about minority counseling. That’s right; the school actually offers me counseling for being a minority in my program.


Okay, you win!  I have absolutely no more reasons to be worried about getting an education. Looking back on it now, why should I have been worried to further my knowledge in my desired program? What’s intimidating about making me a more marketable candidate in the job market? Why is being more qualified and well-rounded scary?


I’m ready to jump into this commitment with both feet.  I’m prepared to take on the challenges that this school will put on me. I have taken the first step towards graduation and it is a journey that I am excited to take! I know that college will bring ups and downs. It will bring achievements and rough roads. It’s a difficult, but very reachable goal. I hope you’ll be here alongside me and I continue down this new and intriguing road.


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