UNIVERSITY OF WISCONSIN River Falls

UWRF Experiential Learning Course Seeks Projects for Fall 2014

June 16, 2014 -- The College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences (CAFES) at UW-River Falls is seeking businesses and organizations which have projects that they would like teams of university students to tackle, under the guidance of faculty mentors, as part of their Experiential Learning course.   

Each semester CAFES offers this course which 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. 

The benefits to the business/organizational client include having more than 600 student person 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.  In addition, Steve DeWald, director of UWRF 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. 

Last semester's clients included Melissa Sparrow-Lien of the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR). The DNR is interested in partnering with local goat producers to have their goats graze on public lands as a means for providing an environmentally friendly, cost efficient way to control brush. The students determined the goat owners in the local area, produced a business plan that showed the economic benefits of having the goat producers graze on public lands, and created a presentation for the DNR to use at public meetings with goat producers.  

"We got exactly what we were looking for," Sparrow-Lien said. "The team did a great job adjusting to changes that needed to be made to the project, especially after they found that the information we had hoped they would gather was not available. They provided us with a nice presentation that will be useful in the future." 

Other projects last semester included business plans for three local businesses, a farm plan for a local farmer, and feasibility studies for non-profit organizations. 

If you are interested in having your project considered for the fall semester 2014, contact email juliet.tomkins@uwrf.edu or call 715-425-3298 by Friday, June 27. 

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