Research Partnership Gets Students on the Mississippi Using Future Workforce Technology

A partnership will get students out on the Mississippi River using the water-related technology they’ll need in the future workforce in freshwater science. 

The La Crosse-based company J.F. Brennan Company Inc. — a century-old, nationwide leader in marine environmental solutions — is partnering with UW-La Crosse to strengthen research, curriculum and the company’s talent pipeline. 

“Our business, like any business, is fundamentally based on the ability to recruit, train, and retain good people,” says Matt Binsfeld, president and CEO of J.F. Brennan Company, Inc.  

The partnership between UWL and J.F. Brennan was formed through the initiative of Prairie Springs: The Paul Fleckenstein Trust and the UWL College of Science and Health, with the assistance of the La Crosse Community Foundation. 

In early 2022, it was announced that Prairie Springs: The Paul Fleckenstein Trust gave the La Crosse Community Foundation $430,000 to fund construction of a new research vessel for UWL’s River Studies Center: Research Vessel Prairie Springs.  

In relation to the vessel, J.F. Brennan will provide maintenance support, a storage location and instrumentation expertise.   

Partnership will also shape curriculum

J.F. Brennan will also be entering into a new agreement with the UW-La Crosse River Studies Center to help shape classroom curriculum to continue to produce top graduates. UWL students graduate with great technical background such as an understanding, analyzing and reporting geospatial data that applies to careers, Brennan staff say. Still there is room for students to grow through experiential learning outside the classroom. 

“They saw an opportunity and said, ‘You know, would you like to have more dialog about what we’re looking for? Because there’s a huge need out there for these types of students,’” explains Roger Haro, UWL College of Science and Health associate dean. 

The partnership is considered a public-private partnership, explains Binsfeld. 

“How can we work more closely with UWL and the River Studies Center to provide the experiential learning opportunities for young people, so that they’re not only getting the high-value and first-class in classroom experience, but they’re taking that and they’re putting that together with these opportunities to do actually what we do as an organization,” says Binsfeld. 

Written by: Campus Connection, the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse; used with permission.
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Founded in 1978, the Council on Undergraduate Research (CUR) focuses on providing high-quality and collaborative undergraduate research, scholarly, and creative activity. Among the many activities and networking opportunities that CUR provides, the organization also offers support for the professional growth of faculty and administrators through expert-designed institutes, conferences, and a wide-range of volunteer positions. The CUR community, made up of nearly 700 institutions and 13,000 individuals, continues to provide a platform for discussion and other resources related to mentoring, connecting, and creating relationships centered around undergraduate research. CUR’s advocacy efforts are also a large portion of its work as they strive to strengthen support for undergraduate research. Its continued growth in connections with representatives, private foundations, government agencies, and campuses world-wide provides value to its members and gives voice to undergraduate research. CUR is committed to inclusivity and diversity in all of its activities and our community.

CUR focuses on giving a voice to undergraduate research with learning through doing. It provides connections to a multitude of campuses and government agencies, all while promoting networking and professional growth to its community.