Wisconsin Life # 609: Live and Let Learn

November 15, 2018


Wisconsin Life host Angela Fitzgerald joins students at West De Pere High School to learn about their aquaponics program. She hears from teachers and students about the importance of learning this growing system and explores their set up. Aquaponics is a growing system that combines aquaculture – which is raising fish – with hydroponics or growing plants in water. Both the plants and fish benefit from this system as the waste water from the fish gets processed, then pumped up to the beds, becoming food for the plants. Now students use the system in their horticulture and culinary classes.

Main Street in Medford looks like any other rural Wisconsin community. It’s home to the Taylor County Courthouse and is surrounded by farm country. Across the parking lot from Medford High School is an old dairy barn with chickens, a calf, pig, sheep, a rabbit, and one cat. This “school barn” is where students engage with farm animals and agriculture teacher Lisa Kopp’s shows students what it takes to be a farmer. Kopp says, “If we expect farmers to continue in this next generation, we need to teach them. “ Kopp sees it as securing the future for farming.

Matthew Hollingsworth is breaking the stereotype that you have to work and live in Hollywood to make a living scoring film and television. In fact, he composes music from his very own home in Janesville, Wisconsin. Hollingsworth has always had a passion for music and has come a long way from his days as a toddler playing on the piano. One of his most well-known works a Super Bowl spot featuring Kim Kardashian in a T-Mobile commercial. Viewers of WPT have heard his score on the program “Wisconsin From the Air.” While composing, he said, “You know, I love it so far. It’s so great. There’s so much that goes into it and I love it all.”

For most people, paper is paper. It brings the news or carries a message. For Kirsten Christianson, paper is art. “I know that when I’m making the paper, it’s going to develop into this creative thing.” She crafts handmade paper from old rags, flax and cattails by the river. This paper is different: the texture, the thickness, the size, the shape. A sculptor by training, Christianson uses her old techniques and her new paper medium to make art that comes alive.

Learning that Hmong students were struggling in school, Mai Zong Vue and her husband, Peng Her, started the Hmong Language and Culture Enrichment Program in Madison. The center helps Hmong students bridge the divide between being Hmong and being American. Vue says, “The children of this ‘1.5 generation’ have only known America. And they have to reconcile two different worlds.” Working with people that understand them and learning about their culture gives the students a sense of belonging. Vue says, “It makes a huge difference in terms of that eagerness to learn and that desire to go to school.”


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