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College to Community brings Barton campus to town
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Barton Community College student Kyle Hoover watches lab technicians at work at the Kansas Bureau of Investigation office, Wednesday in Great Bend. Criminal Justice students at Barton visited the KBI and other agencies during College To Community Day. - photo by Susan Thacker/Great Bend Tribune

Moran visits Great Bend

U.S. Senator Jerry Moran spent some time Wednesday morning in Great Bend and at the Kansas Wetlands Education Center. During the noon hour he visited Walnut Bowl, where Barton Community College students were wrapping up College To Community Day.
“I spent the last hour visiting with people along Main Street,” Moran told students. “I’m delighted to hear what Great Bend is doing to encourage (students) to look at careers at home. In rural America we live our lives in a pretty special way. ... I hope you realize this is a great community with great potential.”

Barton Community College students who are studying for future careers were invited to visit local businesses on Wednesday, during College To Community Day.
Buses carrying more than 150 students studying agriculture, early childhood education, automotive, business technology, computer networking and criminal justice took customized tours, so they could catch a glimpse of what they might be doing in the next few years. Law enforcement students, for example, were given the chance to handle firearms in a safe environment, and agriculture students toured Great Bend Feeding Inc., Straub International and Northview Nursery.
The City of Great Bend and BCC work together to offer College To Community Day, City Administrator Howard Partington said. It’s been going on for about 12 years as a way to promote the city and the career choices available to students after they complete their education. Even if students choose not to work in Great Bend, the event also helps them explore career options.
For example, students in Barton’s Criminal Justice department visited the Barton County Sheriff’s Office shooting range as well as the Kansas Bureau of Investigation Office. KBI Special Investigator Roger Butler said most agents need a college degree and a few years of law enforcement experience before they can be hired by the bureau. “You’re probably not going to come out of college and go to work for the KBI,” he said. The starting pay of agents is $48,000; forensic scientists start at $41,000, but usually can earn as much as an agent over time.
“Obviously criminal justice classes are important,” Butler told the students. But so are computer courses and elective courses that help students become better communicators, such as speech or drama.
Chris Riddle, a forensic chemist at the KBI, said biology or chemistry degrees may be needed for work such as analyzing blood stain patters, crime-scene biology, fingerprints or DNA.
Jonathan Dietz, Barton’s Director of Testing, Advisement and Career Services, was one of the organizers who made the event a reality.
“This shows the students the opportunities they have right here in the community for when they finish up with school,” he said of College To Community Day. “It’s also kind of a mutual thing; It’s a great way for the community to see the potential we have out here at the college, and to start recruiting that talent early on.”
Barton student Becky Hochman was in the group exploring early childhood education careers. She said she wouldn’t have thought to seek future employment at The Center for Counseling and Consultation, Sunflower Diversified Services’ preschool or Head Start. After the tours, she commented, “Head Start sounded pretty cool.”
Brian Schauf, along with fellow students Garet Bland and Curry Thomas, visited Great Bend Regional Hospital, CPI Qualified Plan Consultants and Great Bend USD 428 as part of the computer networking tour. “I want to be a school administrator,” Schauf said, so he found the blending of computers and education could be a good match.
After the tours, students were treated to pizza at Walnut Bowl, where U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran made an appearance and gave a short speech about the importance of their decision to work in Kansas after their time in college.
“I even had my kids raise their hands and say, ‘I will be a success, in Kansas,’” he said, encouraging the crowd of Barton students to consider sticking around in central Kansas after graduation.

Additional reporting by Brandon Steinert, Barton Community College communications