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Local college plans tasting event to fund scholarships

Many of the students at Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College (FDLTCC) are trying to make it on their own. Sometimes with only limited financial means, family support and outside opportunities, they are attempting to earn a degree in order to better their lives. Those circumstances don’t always equate to adequate funds to get through school, however, so the college has decided to do something about it.

The FDLTCC Foundation is planning its first-ever “Food for Thought” Tasting Event for Thursday, Jan. 23, from 4:30-7 p.m. at the college.  It will feature over 20 area vendors who will provide samples of their “signature” food items and beverage specialties, including such taste-tempters as walleye cakes, chicken tortilla soup, Danish kringle, flavored coffees and Mexican food. The intent:  to raise money in support of academic student scholarships at the college.

Foundation member Chris Wagner, who co-chairs the event along with Dave Guckenberg, said it goes much further than that, however.

“This is a community need that will pay off immensely,” Wagner said, citing the results of a 2013 Wilder Research study that estimated the college’s economic impact on the regional economy to be some $38 million and 459 jobs. He added that the study also concluded that FDLTCC generates some $2 million in tax revenues for state and local governments.

There is a human side to the story as well, far beyond terms of merely dollars and cents. Wagner spoke of one student, a single mom with a young son to raise, who wasn’t able to make a go of it in a larger four-year college. Then she enrolled at FDLTCC in a renewed effort to earn her degree. Even then, related Wagner, she must work a student job for 20 hours a week at minimum wage and whatever other spare jobs she can in addition to attending classes.

“Without that,” said Wagner, “she would not be able to cover the cost of tuition — aside from the additional costs of raising a child. I could probably tell you 30 or 40 other stories just like that one. Most of these students are making it academically —they just need a little help with the costs.”

With a student population of approximately 30 percent Native Americans and 70 percent general population, Wagner said the college appeals to students on many different levels.

“We do have a lot of ‘second chancers,’” he acknowledged, “but we also have a lot of pure students who simply don’t want to carry huge student loan debt the rest of their lives so they chose to go to a local college that can provide them with the skills they need to make a living. That really helps the rest of us as well.”

Wagner, who volunteers his time serving on the Foundation board, said he and his colleagues wanted to do something to provide greater continuity in scholarship support at the college —something that will carry on into perpetuity. The idea to actually involve the community in an event at the college had a great appeal.

“Even though the college has been here in the community for 25 years,” he said, “there are many folks who have never even been out there before.”

Wagner said the Foundation Board has been overwhelmed by the support area merchants have given the event, agreeing to supply food, beverages and gift certificates as prize giveaways and purchasing blocks of tickets as corporate donations.

“I cannot believe how well received this project has been out in the community,” he said. “Businesses around the area have just been so great in helping us out.”

Tickets for the tasting event are on sale now for $20 per individual or $35 per couple. A limited amount of tickets are also expected to be available at the door the night of the event.

For additional information, or to purchase tickets, contact Mary Soyring at 218-879-0811.