Ziegler CAT and Caterpillar Foundation Support DCTC

DCTC Foundation receives $45,500 for HCET program

Ziegler CAT and Caterpillar Foundation Supports DCTC

Ziegler CAT, one of the largest and most successful Caterpillar dealers in the U.S., donated $22,750 to the DCTC Foundation for student scholarships, instructional equipment, faculty development, course upgrades and recruitment efforts in the  Heavy Construction Equipment Technology program at Dakota County Technical College. The Caterpillar Foundation Dealer Excellence Fund matched the grant, bringing the total donation to $45,500. Ziegler and the Caterpillar Foundation have a longstanding history of supporting the HCET program through generous donations to the DCTC Foundation.

“Through its Dealer Excellence Fund Program, the Caterpillar Foundation works with Caterpillar dealers across the nation to help colleges train highly-skilled technicians for the heavy equipment industry,” said Tharan Leopold, executive director of the DCTC Foundation. “When a CAT dealer makes a donation to support a program, the Caterpillar Foundation matches that donation with the goal to continue developing topflight curricula and educational opportunities. The idea is to create more high-paying technical jobs for graduates while augmenting the technician talent pool.”

According to ISEEK, Minnesota’s comprehensive career, education and job resource, the average pay for heavy construction equipment techs in Minnesota is more than $25 an hour. Top earners make nearly $32 an hour. Between 2012 and 2022, the demand for heavy equipment techs in the seven-county metro area is expected to grow 12.3 percent, which is above the statewide median.

Major employers include:

  • Heavy equipment dealers
  • Federal, state and local government agencies
  • Highway, street and bridge construction companies

Top photo: (left to right) DCTC Interim Vice President of Academic and Student Affairs Mike Opp, HCET Instructor Roger Gartner, DCTC Foundation Board Chair Bob Erickson, DCTC Foundation Executive Director Tharan Leopold, Ziegler CAT Human Resource Technical Recruiter Paul Anderson, HCET Instructor Joel Fogarty, DCTC Interim President and IHCC President Tim Wynes, DCTC Foundation Board Member Scott Manwarren, Ziegler CAT Employee and Organizational Development Manager Ralph Dupslaff

About Ziegler CAT…

With 21 locations in Minnesota and Iowa, Ziegler is one of the largest Cat dealers in North America. Ziegler sells and services Cat construction, paving, forestry, and mining equipment, as well as Cat trucks, generators, and industrial engines. In the agricultural market, Ziegler represents Challenger, AGCO application, and Lexion machinery in Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin, and Missouri. — Courtesy of the Ziegler CAT website

Ziegler CAT and Caterpillar Foundation Supports DCTC

About the Caterpillar Foundation…

Making Sustainable Progress Possible

Since 1952, The Caterpillar Foundation has been dedicated to transforming lives in the communities where we live and work around the world. We champion programs that support education, environment and emergency relief.

Our mission is to turn the spiral of poverty into a path to prosperity by investing in those proven to yield the best results—women and girls.

Our strategic areas of focus are:

  • Education
  • Environment
  • Emergency Relief

— Courtesy of the Caterpillar Foundation website

For more information about Heavy Construction Equipment Technology at DCTC, contact:
  • Daniel Ruzicka
    Heavy Construction Equipment Technology Instructor
  • Roger Gartner
    Heavy Construction Equipment Technology Instructor
For more information about the DCTC Foundation, contact:
  • Tharan Leopold
    Executive Director of Foundation and Alumni

Welcome to the Hort Court

Fine gardening and landscape construction projects enhance campus life

DCTC fall campus

Students and faculty in the Landscape Horticulture program at Dakota County Technical College have been busy completing fine gardening and landscape construction projects that beautify the campus while creating sanctuaries designed for relaxation, contemplation, socializing, teaching and studying.

The Hort Court Garden, located adjacent to the Landscape Horticulture labs and classrooms in the southwest section of the main building, received recent upgrades, including a new water feature and flagstone patio. Jeff Kleinboehl, the instructor who teaches construction courses in the program, emphasizes the importance of real-world projects that not only give his students hands-on experience, but also produce enduring improvements to the campus that can be shared by everyone at the college.

“The little old pond we had out there was a maintenance problem,” said Jeff, whose students also installed the flagstone patio in the spot once occupied by the pond. “I bought a medium-size, pondless waterfall kit last spring with the intent of having my Construction II students install the waterfall this fall. Lot of digging and rock work, but I have been getting rave reviews from students, staff and faculty. We spent a total of nine hours working on the project.”

Hort Court Garden

Michelle Wells, a sophomore in the Landscape Horticulture program, worked on the waterfall and patio projects. Michelle is taking advantage of the program’s broad curriculum. She’s earning an A.A.S. degree as well the Professional Gardening and Sustainable Food Systems certificates. She welcomed the opportunity to participate in landscape projects that will be enjoyed by people for years to come.

“We watched videos about waterfall installations,” Michelle said, “and designed how we wanted the waterfall to look. We then dug a hole for the pump and brought in the big rocks for the project. I’m looking forward to a career in a municipal parks department—and projects like this provide great work experience.”

Catherine Grant teaches the Professional Gardening courses in the program. Her students will install the planting around the waterfall yet this fall. They also just installed 550 grasses and perennials around the DCTC electronic sign on County Road 42 and Akron. “We love doing fine gardening work on campus,” Catherine said. “We’ve done several projects over the last year or so, including new plantings by the main front entrance, the east entrance, the west parking lot median and the monument signs out front. Beautifying the campus benefits everyone at DCTC—and fine gardens do not depreciate, but become more beautiful every year.”

DCTC campus fall 2014

The Landscape Horticulture program also operates a sizable sustainable garden on the south side of the campus that serves as a lab area for the Sustainable Food Systems certificate. Matt Brooks teaches courses for the certificate as well as courses focused on landscape design.

“Sustainable living appeals to a population that ranges from urban gardeners to organic framers to lifelong learners seeking a more healthful lifestyle,” Matt said. “The Sustainable Food Systems certificate provides leading-edge information on a mode of agriculture that is gaining popularity in Minnesota and around the world.”

The upside of campus gardens…

Gardens, both botanical and edible, create several advantages for the college and its surrounding communities. Significant objectives for any college can be achieved through the serenity, beauty and scientific wealth provided by fine gardens, including:

  • Enhancing student recruitment and retention
  • Strengthening faculty and staff morale
  • Attracting area residents to the campus
  • Creating welcoming and peaceful meeting places and study areas
  • Producing local produce through an urban agriculture program with a focus on landscape design aesthetics
  • Partnering with a local farmers’ market to bring community members on campus
  • Providing an interpretive teaching center on the natural world to inform and inspire students in DCTC science classes, students from area schools and community members
  • Forging partnerships with area businesses, particularly landscape design firms, retail garden centers and wholesale nurseries, but other corporations as well
  • Forging partnerships with other arboretums to expand knowledge and professional networks
  • Engaging national and regional foundations focused on environmental enrichment and community outreach
  • Building powerful bonds with alumni
  • Providing educational opportunities through access to a master-planned sustainable landscape
  • Creating revenue streams as a desirable site for weddings, business meetings, anniversaries, family reunions and more
  • Serving as an attractive outdoor location for spring commencement
  • Boosting the status of the existing Landscape Horticulture program by offering strong learning and professional opportunities
  • Establishing a growable resource that only gains value over time to ultimately emerge as a priceless gift to posterity
DCTC campus fall 2014

For more photos: Visit DCTC on Flickr

For more information about Landscape Horticulture at DCTC, contact:

Photography Grad Earns B.S. at Brooks Institute

Tadeo Tebandeke works as freelance photographer in Southern California

Tadeo Tebandeke

Originally from Ggaba, a fishing hub on the south side Kampala, the capital city of Uganda, Tadeo Tebandeke, 26, moved to the U.S. when he was a junior in high school. Tadeo’s mother sent her youngest child nearly 8,000 miles away to find a better life and ultimately pursue his dream of becoming a professional photographer. After graduating from Century High School in Rochester, Minnesota, in 2003, Tadeo found his ideal career path in the Photography program at Dakota County Technical College.

Blue Knights: 2005 season

Blue Knights: 2005-2006 season

While at DCTC, Tadeo played two seasons of NJCAA Division I soccer for the Blue Knights, covering the right defender and right midfielder positions. He credits soccer for opening the door to a college education.

“Soccer was my ticket to DCTC,” Tadeo said. “The soccer team created a sense of community and belonging that made my days at DCTC very enjoyable. For a long time, I thought I was going to play soccer for life until photography got hold of me.”

Tadeo looks back on the Photography program at DCTC with pride and fondness. “The program helped me achieve success for a number of reasons,” he said. “The hands-on experience was the best way for me to learn.”

Tadeo TebandekeHe recognizes the teaching method of Bill Eilers, one of his instructors, for getting him fully prepared for the next phase of his photography career. “Bill gave us creative and professional assignments that made us learn,” Tadeo said. “He kept on pushing my class to make professional images and products, not just memorize technical facts. After DCTC, my career’s life success is all about my portfolio.”

Bill Eilers remembers Tadeo as a remarkably motivated and talented student. “When Tadeo came to our program, he could barely speak English,” Bill said, “but he had an incredible social intelligence, personal drive and an infectious smile. He probably could have continued his soccer career, but photography became his first passion.

Bill added that Tadeo has a knack for capturing special moments—his natural goal putting a smile on the face of everyone he photographs. “Tadeo is living proof that determination and drive can take a person as far as they want to go.”

In 2009, Tadeo graduated from DCTC with an Associate of Science in Photography. That degree and the knowledge he acquired in the program led him to the School of Photography at the Brooks Institute, which has campuses in Southern California in both Santa Barbara and Ventura. In 2014, Tadeo graduated from Brooks, ranked by Photo.net as one of the top three photography schools in the U.S., with a Bachelor of Science in Photography.

“I loved my time at Brooks,” said Tadeo, who now works as a professional freelance photographer based out of Santa Barbara. He specializes in studio and outdoor portraits,weddings, music and sports events, and behind-the-scenes shoots. His work has taken him to several countries (Tadeo is well traveled; he’s visited England, Australia, Egypt, Tanzania, Eritrea, the Sudan, Kenya and South Africa). An upcoming job is a fashion shoot in New York City. “Earning my bachelor’s degree at Brooks was one of the biggest challenges and greatest achievements in my life so far.”

Lake Victoria

Lake Victoria

Ggaba is located on the shores of Lake Victoria, Africa’s largest lake and the largest tropical lake in the world. Only seven miles from the central business district of Kampala, Uganda’s capital and largest city with a population topping 1.6 million, Ggaba is home to the main campus of Kampala University. Uganda is a landlocked country in East Africa known for its national parks (10) and protected areas (60). English is Uganda’s official language with Swahili approved as the second official language in 2005. Luganda is the country’s most widely spoken language.

Tadeo’s personality, inner momentum, know-how and talent allow him to thrive as a freelance photographer. “Some people think of a full-time job as stability, but there are other ways to work and live,” he said. “When you work as a freelancer, you don’t have to worry about getting laid off, re-classified and all that, so in a way it’s more stable. What you have to be concerned about is networking and filling your calendar with the kind of work you want to do—not just the jobs that pay the bills.”

As for settling down and starting a family, Tadeo is just too busy working. “Oh, man, I’m not married,” he said, “and I’m not thinking about it right now. Only after I get myself established and accomplished.”

When he doesn’t have a camera in his hands, Tadeo still loves to play soccer, aka football. He also enjoys music and kicking it with friends. “I never get tired of the beach life in Santa Barbara,” he said, referring to the Mediterranean climate of his current residence, which is often called the “American Riviera.”

He gets back to Minnesota a couple times a year and makes a point of seeing his old classmates and favorite teachers at DCTC. He considers the state a great place, but isn’t too fired up about snow.

“I make sure I visit between April and September,” he said. “I love it here in California, the warm weather, beaches and the ocean—especially in December when it’s fifteen below in Minnesota. I’m okay with that.”

  • Marlene Dietrich photo by Cecil BeatonFavorite camera brand: Nikon and Hasselblad (he shoots with both)
  • Favorite lens: 80mm and 24-70mm
  • Favorite style of photography: Studio and outdoor portrait
  • Favorite photographer: “I like too many, but here are few of my favorites, Gordon Parks, Annie Liebovitz and Richard Avedon.”
  • Favorite photo: “I’m gonna say the Marlene Dietrich photo by Cecil Beaton from 1937; that’s one of the old-school portraits I like.”

Tadeo Tebandeke gallery *

* All photos ©TadeoPhotography

Top photo and black-and-white shot of Tadeo courtesy of Bill Eilers
For more information about Photography at DCTC, contact:

Area Business Leaders Attend DCTC Manufacturing Showcase

Event featured speakers: John Connelly, Enterprise MN, Pat McQuillan, CPWD, Sue Mueller, Global Corporate College

DCTC Manufacturing Showcase

On Thursday morning, Oct. 9, 2014, leaders from area businesses were at Dakota County Technical College to attend a Manufacturing Showcase that provided a firsthand look at manufacturing-related programs at the college, including Welding Technology, Electrical Construction & Maintenance Technology and Industrial & Energy Plant Maintenance. A campus tour also visited a large lab and classroom space on the southwest end of the campus slated for an advanced manufacturing training center. DCTC Interim President Tim Wynes, J.D., welcomed more than 100 attendees in the Dakota Room.

Featured speakers

John Connelly
Enterprise Minnesota Director of Consulting
“State of Manufacturing in Minnesota”

Bob Kill

John Connelly

Pat McQuillan
Center for Professional and Workforce Development Dean
“South of the River Training Solutions”

Pat McQuillan

Pat McQuillan

Sue Mueller
Global Corporate College Account Executive
“Delivering Consistent Training Across Your Entire Footprint”

Sue Mueller

Sue Mueller

“The Manufacturing Showcase was an opportunity to connect with our employers and work together toward solutions,” said Pat McQuillan, dean of the Center for Professional and Workforce Development at DCTC and Inver Hills Community College. “We appreciate everyone who took the time to attend the event and look forward to more collaboration.”

Manufacturing Showcase gallery

To learn more about the Center for Professional & Workforce Development at DCTC and IHCC, contact:

Auto Body Collision Alumna Blazes a Trail

Elise Groenewold brings a sharp mind and artistic talent to auto industry

Gerry Rainford and Elise Groenewold

ABCT Instructor Gerry Rainford and Alumna Elise Groenewold

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, women made up only 1.5 percent of the workforce in the automotive body and related repairers field in 2013. Bump that up to 1.8 percent for automotive service technicians and mechanics. Elise Groenewold, 22, a 2014 graduate of the Auto Body Collision Technology program at Dakota County Technical College, wasn’t thinking about those percentages when she made her career choice. Elise had just graduated from North Hennepin Community College with an Associate in Fine Arts degree. She loved art, but understood the challenges of finding a good-paying job in the art world right out of college.

“Art has always been a passion of mine,” said Elise, who noted that she initially pursued graphic design, but switched to the A.F.A. due her aptitude for drawing and painting by hand. She felt that earning a degree in Auto Body Collision Technology would provide opportunities to harness her artistic side while making good money in a robust occupational field.

“I come from a do-it-yourself family,” she added, “and I’ve loved cars ever since I was a little girl.”


“Job opportunities are projected to be very good for jobseekers with industry certification and formal training in automotive body repair and refinishing and in collision repair. Those without any training or experience will face strong competition for jobs.”

A native of Northfield, Minnesota, and a 2010 graduate of Northfield High School, Elise was nervous about entering a program she knew would be populated by nearly all male students—not to mention breaking into a career field with very few female technicians. She was happily surprised to find that she was one of three women in her class. She also had the advantage that her boyfriend, David Hagfors, a graduate of the DCTC Automotive Technician program and a certified welding inspector, could offer her technical guidance based on his own work experience.

Elise showed that she was an adept learner, not only excelling in the ABCT labs, but also on a national stage. One of 10 students representing DCTC at the 50th Annual SkillsUSA National Championships June 23–27, 2014, in Kansas City, Missouri, she won a bronze medal in one of the most competitive events at the championships, Collision Repair Technology. Elise was the first woman to ever break the top three in that event.

“Before the SkillsUSA Nationals, I brought home practice welds—and David showed me what was good and bad,” Elise recalled. “We worked together, welding in our garage. It was a blast.”

(left to right) Tonya Hartsuiker, Scott Logan, Elise Groenewold, Gerry Rainford, Rachel Grosslein

(left to right) Tonya Hartsuiker, Scott Logan, Elise Groenewold, Gerry Rainford, Rachel Grosslein

During her time at DCTC, Elise continued holding down a job. As a freshman, she worked at Forget-Me-Not, a florist in Northfield; as a sophomore, she worked at Northfield Autobody, the business where she also completed her two-month ABCT internship. She currently works at 3M in St. Paul under contract with Volt Workforce Solutions.

“I work in the Technical Services department at 3M,” said Elise, who landed the job while still a student at DCTC. “I’m lucky that I get to work with the people who are all-knowing about 3M products.”

Elise Groenewold at SkillsUSA Nationals

Elise Groenewold at SkillsUSA Nationals

“Northfield’s Groenewold makes history” by Molly Larsen in Northfield News

Elise is flexible about her long-range career plans. She enjoys working with engineers at 3M and is considering going into automotive design. “I thought I would like painting the most in auto body,” she said, “but what I really love is sculpting and bodywork—following the light with your eye.”

She is also open to teaching as a career and points to her ABCT instructors, Scott Logan and Gerry Rainford, as her inspiration. “Scott and Gerry are awesome teachers,” she said.

“I really like that everyone is connected across the automotive programs in the DCTC Transportation department. You can ask questions and get answers from students and faculty in other programs.” — Elise Groenewold

Gerry Rainford considers Elise a role model for any ABCT student. “Elise is proof that with hard work and attention to detail you can achieve any goal you put your mind to,” he said. “Scott and I are proud of Elise and her accomplishments.”

Elise’s favorite automobiles are the muscle cars from the 1960s and 70s, especially the Camaro and Trans Am. When she’s not studying (she’s busy completing her A.A. degree at North Hennepin), Elise enjoys pheasant hunting with her boyfriend and working on auto body projects at home. She has an older brother, Nathan, 26, a stepsister, Jessica, 28, and a stepbrother, Peter, 24. Her English setter, Alize, is four years old.

For more information about Auto Body Collision Technology at DCTC, contact: