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Ripon Education Foundation's

Great Conversations

Thursday, April 6, 2017 at 5:30 P.M.

Ripon College Great Hall

The Ripon Education Foundation invites you to an evening of fine dining and interesting conversation. Area community members have been invited to serve as a table host expert and lead a conversation on their special talent or interest. The evening will conclude with a live auction with a variety of special items.

The Ripon Education Foundation is a 501(c)(3) non-profit. The Foundation was formed by citizens in the Ripon Area School District with interest in supporting excellence in academics and innovative educational opportunities for students and teachers. Thanks to our generous sponsors and participants, funds raised during the evening of Great Conversations will provide funding for innovative teaching and learning grants to help expand the classroom for Ripon students. These grants allow educators to request support for implementation of an unfunded idea that provides innovative and creative student learning experiences for students in the Ripon School District.

During the course of the evening - we will be making an announcement of a new, special grant!! Please join us to learn about this new opportunity for students in the Ripon Area Schools.

Help support Ripon's schools and enjoy some Great Conversations while you are at it!!

Live Auction: The evening will conclude with a live auction for items including Supermarket shopping spree at Webster's Marketplace, Dinner for 6 prepared and served by Knuth Brewing, Corn Hole game set, Window Washing by FISH, Cards in the Cupolo-dinner for 4 and games in the historic home at 512 Woodside - dinner provided by Jim Gelhar and Pat Grahn - tour and games provided by Steve and Cathylee Arbaugh. More auction items may be added!!!

Please consider additional donations to:
Ripon Education Foundation Program Fund
Ripon Education Foundation Scholarship Fund

The cost to attend is $45.00 per person ($20 is your Tax Deductible Donation to REF)

Online registration is now closed.

Entree Options

Chicken Picata with Lemon Caper Cream Sauce
Grilled Salmon with dilled Cream Sauce
Vegetable Napoleon


Table Topics and Descriptions

Table 1: Cindy Diemer - The State of Poverty in the Ripon Area: Statistics and Solutions

In the fall of 2015 the League of Women Voters of the Ripon Area began a 3-year study of poverty in Fond du Lac County focusing on the broader area of Ripon, and also of Green Lake and Waushara Counties. The study began with a survey of seven area school districts to determine the number of children in need, how related issues were being dealt with, what solutions were already in place or urgently needed to assist, and what problems were most important to address

Join this conversation to learn and discuss percentages of children qualified for Free and Reduced Lunches, breakfast and lunch issues and opportunities especially during summer and weekends, homeless student statistics, and area schools and organizations that provide ongoing assistance to children and families in need. Besides food security, other poverty issues include: transportation; housing (heat, water, insulation, etc.); clothing; medical and dental needs; and encouragement from the many successful programs offered by schools, community organizations, churches, and individuals.

The League of Women Voters of the Ripon Area recently voted to continue their Poverty Study for two additional years with broader and more detailed emphasis on the issues and solutions.

Table 2: Amy Pollesch - FREE is Fabulous

Making a difference is simple and we know you can help us make an impact on our community. Traded Treasures Thrift Store & the Community Food Pantry loves to give to others by turning simple things into a gift. Let's partner together and make a difference in the lives of families in need.

The Community Food Pantry currently gives away 1100+ bags of FREE groceries every 30 days to families in need. We would love to tell you how you can help us help others with simple things you currently have in your kitchen, bedroom, closet and beyond. Making a difference is simple, fun & FREE.

Table 3: Susan Reiterman & Jen Rintelmann - Two Determined women, One amazing son, and a Smokin' Hot BBQ Joint

Over four years ago, two unexpected, unwavering paths crossed that were destined to re-define unconditional love, family, and A LOT of hard work. Susan Reiterman, of Texas and Jen Rintelmann, of Rhinelander, WI shook hands upon meeting one another, and their "present" tells the story of how and who they (as a family), have come to be.

Committed, with an irrefutable passion for son, Jadon; to progress with Cerebral Palsy, and a grand mal seizure disorder. They were adamant about creating a stage that reiterates the notion: "hard work, pays off." Single handedly, Susan and Jen created (from the ground, up) a plan for success, and .. in short, a most mindful endeavor. One step after another, their dream of a Texas-inspired, Wisconsin-spirited BBQ joint, unveiled itself.

Table 4: Henrik Schatzinger - What Do Screaming Politicians and Uncivil Media Do To Us?

We have all watched politicians and experts screaming and yelling at one another on television. What are the benefits and drawbacks from such discourse? How do close-ups and uncivil behavior in political TV affect our emotions, reactions, and trust in politicians and the political process? Let us discuss answers from experimental research, possible alternatives to in-your-face politics, and how your own media habits affect you.

Table 5: Kat Griffith - WHAT?! A Vampire-Free, Young Adult Reading Zone?!

The Lumen Charter High School Reading Workshop was started in response to a serious problem: a third of our kids came to us reading at an upper elementary level. Our "bounded choice" workshop has had notable successes in getting a wide range of readers to read an even wider range of books with pleasure. Test scores often improve dramatically, and attitudes are transformed. And there is nary a vampire book in sight! In this discussion we'll talk about the challenges of getting kids to read, some of the successes we've had in the workshop, and how we (discussion participants) became readers -- or didn't -- as kids. What worked and failed then, and what lessons might this hold for sparking a passion for reading now?

Table 6: Karl Solibakke - Confessions of a Repatriot

Born in Annapolis MD, I moved to Germany in 1980 with the intention of spending a year or two abroad. I did not return to the US until 30 years later, after retiring from several successful business ventures, and with the desire to return to academia.

Keenly aware that our world is undergoing rapid transformations, my aspirations have focused on promoting the distinctive value of a global education sensitively measured against costs and outcomes, at the same time bridging the cultural differences between Europe and the US.

Aside from the business and academic portions of my life I have an abundance of life experiences and a great love for the opera.

30 years in Germany make a big difference!!!

Table 7: Paul Reckner - How Archaeology Uncovered the Story of a Rural Blacksmith and His Connection to Ripon's Legacy of Anti-Slavery Activism, the Underground Railroad, and the Birth of the Republican Party.

"Men of today know nothing of the excitement of those years preceding the [Civil] war". The middle decades of the nineteenth century were some of the most tumultuous in U.S. history, and the rural community of Ripon, Wisconsin, was consistently at the forefront of national social movements during this era. Staunch local opposition to slavery led to the formation of a new political party, armed rebellion against federal authorities attempting to enforce the 1850 Fugitive Slave Law, and unwavering commitment to the Union cause during the Civil War. So what did this era of upheaval look like through the eyes of a blacksmith and farmer from early Rosendale Township? From the 1840s until the 1880s, James W. Sanders' blacksmith shop and farm were familiar landmarks to travelers along the old road from Ripon to Pickett and Oshkosh (now State Highway 44). He was among the first wave of permanent settlers to Rosendale Township, but he was far from just a simple tradesman. He was a skilled politician, a passionate abolitionist, and (according to his obituary) "a man of large sympathy…always found fighting on the side of the common people". Sanders' uncompromising civic spirit put him squarely in the middle of the major events of his day.

His biography weaves together disparate strands of Ripon's history; from Ceresco and the Wisconsin Phalanx to the Underground Railroad to the Little White School House and the Ripon Booth War of 1860. Sanders' life offers an unusual perspective on the radical movements that shook the state and the nation in the 1850s and 1860s. In light of the political upheavals we are witnessing today, this history has become even more relevant and worthy of our attention. Recent archaeological excavations at the site of the Sanders' farmstead have led to the rediscovery of this fascinating and largely forgotten individual, and the remarkable public life he led.

Table 8: Rich Gautheir - Cuban Sunset

Cuba has had an ambivalent relationship with its northern neighbor, the U.S., since it tried to declare independence from Spain in 1895. At times it has wanted to be annexed, and at other times saw antagonism toward the U.S. as a unifying national principle. Since the Cuban Missile Crisis, Cuba has been blockaded from all things American. Now, with Castro dead, and relations with the US possibly thawing, Cuba is at a unique and interesting point in its history. Let's discuss Cuban history, culture, and its future.

Table 9: Jason Presto - Boys and Girls Club in Ripon

The Boys & Girls Club is a national organization that serves over 4 million children across the country in over 4000 clubs. Ripon is one of 26 Wisconsin communities (and many more throughout the nation) who is working with Boys & Girls Clubs of America to determine if there is a need for Club services here in our community. During our conversation we will provide an up to date report on the status of a Ripon Club and outline the complete process for potentially bringing services to the community.

The Great Conversations event is a great opportunity for you to learn about the Boys & Girls Club mission and what the organization has to offer the children and families of the Ripon community. You will get introduced to the mission, the programs and the general concept of this mission and impact driven organization.

Table 10: Brian Ernst - Vertical Farming & Urban Agriculture: The Next Green Revolution to Feed the Planet

We are on the verge of the next Green Revolution. With a finite amount of land suitable for agriculture, and with our global population expected to reach 9.6 billion by 2050, vertical farming and urban agriculture have arrived to fill the gap needed to feed our growing planet.

Table 11: Erin Ter Beest - Durable Solutions: Addressing the Refugee Crisis

Hardly a day goes by that we don't hear something in the news about refugees, whether it is in regards to the travel ban issued by the administration in January or migrants fleeing crises in Africa and the Middle East arriving on European shores. There is no doubt that the question of refugees and what to do with them is a hot topic and a highly contested one, at that. But what really is the best solution for the millions of displaced people around the globe? The United Nations seeks a "durable solution" for each refugee individually, but what does that mean? And do we, as Americans, have any obligation to help them? Join us for a friendly exploration of this topic, taking into consideration both current and historical events.

Table 12: Steve Davis - Drones: The New "Eye in the Sky"

Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV's) - more commonly known as "DRONES" are here and they promise to change the world. According to the FAA over 670,000 drones have been registered in the last year or so and the technology is advancing at record pace. In addition to being flown for recreation, they are also being used for many commercial applications.

Companies utilizing drones will be looking for qualified pilots; schools will be looking for instructors; and demand for drone services will continue to grow providing opportunities for small business owners. We'll talk about commercial uses, career opportunities, and how to become a certified remote pilot.

Table 13: Jacqueline Clark - How Size Matters

Over a decade ago, Yale University's Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity showed that 15 percent of respondents would be willing to give up 10 years of their lives to avoid being "fat." Nearly one-half of respondents reported that they would give up one year of their lives to do the same. Such findings illuminate the stigma associated with being obese, as well as the fear that people have of being targets of prejudice and discrimination based on body size. This table conversation will address the stigma that is associated with "fatness and obesity," the prejudice and discrimination that stems from the stigma, as well as how we can move from a culture of fat shaming to one that encourages body acceptance.

Table 14: Dean VanderPlas - Coaching Winners and Guiding Youth Development

After many seasons of coaching Ripon High School Boys Basketball teams, Coach Vander Plas shares his philosophy of coaching and helping guide young men to be the best they can be. Coach will share his experiences as a player and coach and how athletic experiences help build lifelong skills and attitudes.

Table 15: Cathylee Arbaugh - Achieving Magazine Worthy Interior Design Solutions in our Homes, Schools, and Community

Walk through the process of design discovery, development, preparation, and implementation to make your update and remodel your living environment in your home, school, and community. Discuss with Cathylee the importance of determining the purpose of an environment in the space you have and how you might re-do the space you're in. All with the added benefit of the experience of rehabbing a Ripon tradition.

Table 16: Katie Lang - Connecting Your Healthcare & Your Wellness

Finding the right journey to wellness doesn't need to be a hassle filled with road blocks. Learn how the Ripon Medical Center can assist you in your personal journey of health and wellness from the physicians and staff, to the various departments and clinics, to the 24/7 open and community based RMC Wellness Center. Finding a balance between health and wellness can be as simple as knowing your physicians are working together and with the Wellness Center to ensure a proper and well managed program is the right approach to a healthier you. Ripon Medical Center provides programs such as Healthy Youth, Healthy Hearts, various Journeys and Know & Go Programs, and multiple class offerings within the Wellness Center.

Table 17: Erik Ellingson - How I Became a Race Car Driver - at the age of 40!!

62 year old Erik Ellingson, a practicing attorney, describes what it's like to race at one of the world's premier race tracks - Road America in Elkhart Lake. Erik Ellingson is an attorney who resides in Waupaca with his lovely wife Kay and practices law in Milwaukee (and all points in between.) He's been a race fan all his life and has attended Indianapolis 500 more than 30 times. His first "behind the wheel" action was in a charity go-cart race in the mid 90's. That experience led to Racing Driver's School and ultimately to real, fast, wheel-to-wheel club racing. Erik has raced in Wisconsin, Michigan, Illinois, and Georgia and is excited to be racing this summer in Watkins Glen, New York. For the past few years, Erik has been driving 14-hour endurance races with two or three of his teammates…an exciting and challenging format that sometimes includes professional drivers and their crews who are looking to satisfy their "need for speed" when their professional obligations don't otherwise interfere. If you're fortunate enough to sit at Erik's table as an added bonus you might get a chance to ask questions on what it's like to practice law: in real courtrooms, with real people who have REAL problems.

Table 18: Todd Kaull - Investing locally, Growing globally

Alliance Laundry Systems is the world's leading designer, manufacturer and marketer of stand-alone commercial laundry equipment, providing our customers with a single source solution for nearly all of their stand-alone commercial laundry equipment needs. We produce a full line of commercial washing machines and dryers with load capacities from 15 to 400 pounds, as well as presses, ironers and laundry finishing equipment. Our equipment is sold globally in 155 countries through a network of over 1,600 distributors and route operators under the well-known brand names Speed Queen®, UniMac®,Huebsch®, IPSO®, Primus® and Deli®. We provide industry leading value-added services to support our customers, such as laundromat site selection, laundry design services and comprehensive training programs. With more than 3.1 million machines in operation, we have the largest installed base of commercial laundry equipment in the world. Our business model is designed to leverage our large installed base, global distribution network, strong portfolio of trusted brands, extensive sales and technical services group and comprehensive product and service offerings. This allows us to promote new sales of technologically advanced and efficient equipment while also capturing ongoing sales of replacement equipment and service parts. Join us for a discussion of how this company with strong history in Ripon is moving forward and impacting the Ripon community.

Online registration is now closed.

THANK YOU to the following sponsors for their support!


Event Sponsor

Alliance Laundry Systems


Leadership Sponsors

Agnesian Health Care

CG Schmidt

Ripon Printers


Specialty sponsors

von Briesen & Roper, s.c.

Rauch Family Dentistry

Horicon Bank

BMO Bank Ripon


Table sponsors

Butzin Marchant Funeral Home

Century 21 Properties Unlimited

Diedrich Insurance

Bright Orthodontics

KSF CPA Ken Folberg CPA


Friend of Education

Atomic Plumbing and Heating

Condon Oil Company

Silver Creek Dentistry

Hillside Dental Associates

Webster's Marketplace

Ripon Drug/Ben Franklin

Ripon Electric

Quality Plumbing

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