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Get em while theyre young

Aug 1, 2009 12:00 AM


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A few years ago, I attended the Graphic Arts Education Summit at Graph Expo. I learned how representatives from industry associations, vendors, high schools and colleges are working together to promote careers in the graphic arts.

In subsequent discussions, I asked printers how we could get young people interested in our industry. “Get ‘em interested while they’re young,” was the consensus. Many, including John Berthelsen, president of Suttle-Straus and chairman of the Education Summit, make a point of hosting plant tours for grade schoolers.

In January, Berthelsen posed for a cover photo with 25 fifth graders at Waunakee Community Intermediate School and their teacher, Jacqueline Wells. For the past five years, Wells' students have produced a magazine profiling people who live and work in their Wisconsin town. The yearlong project culminates with a trip to Suttle-Straus' plant to see the magazine being printed on a digital press.

“The best part of this whole process is when the kids see the finished magazine for the first time,” reports Wells. “Oh, what joy on their faces and then comes the intense concentration as they look through the magazine checking on their article and photo. What a blast!”

Move over, Lake Woebegone

Wells sent me a copy of this year's publication, “Courtside in Waunakee.” Given that Waunakee is a small town and four previous classes have done this project, I wondered if the kids would run out of interesting subjects to interview and photograph. I needn't have worried. The 2009 edition features basketball, tae-kwon-do, fencing, swim and dance instructors, state and local police officers, emergency medical service workers, a firefighter, an Army pilot, a real estate agent, daycare provider, bank executive, nursing home volunteer coordinator, kindergarten teacher, school custodian and others.

The student publication includes the sort of information that can't be gleaned elsewhere. Consider this tidbit concerning Jay Gawlikoski, an EMS administrator. “In addition to Jay, there are 66 volunteers plus one dog,” writes Payton Davis.

“Don't think you are going to make a lot of money,” is the advice Deb Richardson, assistant vice president of Bank Mutual shared with student Hunter Schoepp. “That didn't stop her from doing her best,” observes Schoepp, noting that Richardson once foiled a would-be robber.

Hans Heppner visited with Rex Endres, proprietor of the eponymous Rex's Innkeeper. Asked about the largest group he's hosted, Endres cited the Michael F. Simon anniversary party. “There were 1,000 people for a pig roast!” Endres told Heppner. Clearly, they know how to throw a party in Waunakee.

But no profile warmed my heart as much as one that ran opposite the inside back cover. Grant Gulland spoke with Ted Straus about his job. I hope Grant won't mind me sharing his work with you.

Ted Straus (by Grant Gulland)

Ted Straus is an artist with technology. He has been living in Waunakee for seven years and working for Suttle-Straus for 15 years. Suttle-Straus is in the graphic communications industry where Ted is the chief communications officer. To do this work, he completed four years of college. People who are interested in working in the graphic communications industry should attend a technical college for training.

Ted says, “The work is challenging and blends technology with marketing. You get to see what happens from the beginning to the end of the printing project.”

Ted is the third generation in his family to work in the graphic communications industry. Ted's great grandfather, Herman Straus, worked there 88 years ago when it was called Straus Printing. Over that period of time, the graphic communications industry, including Suttle-Straus, has experienced such huge advances in technology that it's almost like working in a completely different field.

Just be there

This year's Education Summit at PRINT 09 will be held September 13 from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. If you are attending the show, please stop by — the group is making great strides.

PRINT 09 will take place Sept. 11-16 in Chicago. As Steve Johnson notes on p. 17, “Networking with your peers is an excellent reason to attend. This is a golden opportunity to learn how your peers in other parts of the country and the world are handling this year's economic challenges.”

Winners of AMERICAN PRINTER's Environmental Excellence Awards will be honored at a special ceremony on Sept. 11, 2009 at PRINT 09. We will be in the new GREENspace at the GREEN Theatre and we are looking forward to congratulating our 2009 honorees!

See www.print09.com.

You can follow me on Twitter at http://twitter.com/APKOB as well as on my new blog: KOB on Commercial Printing at http://blog.americanprinter.com/kob.