Madison College regional campuses are a key part of rural communities

Participants at the 2023 Metal Mania event at Madison College-Fort Atkinson.

Giving rural students access to higher education has never been more important to keep Wisconsin communities and businesses vibrant and prospering. Madison College's regional campuses in Fort Atkinson, Portage, Reedsburg, and Watertown are neighborhood learning centers with strong roots in the community.

Known for programs in nursing, manufacturing, and technology, regional hubs provide convenient access points to the college. Students from all backgrounds find success at our regional campuses: first-generation college students, returning college students, and those in the workforce who need to boost their skills. Madison College Regional campuses are also an accessible and affordable way to earn a four-year degree by enrolling in our transfer program.

Technical colleges, like Madison College, keep people and businesses in rural communities thriving.

Ninety-one percent of technical college graduates live and work in Wisconsin, according to the Wisconsin Technical College System. And 98% of employers say that a local technical college is important to the overall success of their business, according to 2023 statistics.

More than one-third of the overall population in the Madison College district lives outside Dane County and 32% of current Madison College students live outside Dane County. Data shows that 92% of Madison College graduates stay and work in the state and 75% stay and work in our district.

These talented Madison College graduates boost the workforce and contribute to vibrant neighborhoods by supporting their community, schools, and businesses.

We are part of the community

Last year, our regional campuses hosted over 220 community events, providing integral programming, facility space, and connection for local communities and businesses.

Madison College-Reedsburg’s Celebrate a Nurse 5K last May raised more than $20,000 for nursing student scholarships with the help of community members. That support helped fun student’s education—nurses who will care for you and your family.

Participants in the 2024 Celebrate a Nurse 5K at Madison College Reedsburg.
The 2024 Celebrate a Nurse 5K attracted runners and walkers from local communities.

Early college dual enrollment  link high school students to college credits. Last academic year, 4,843 high school students earned college credit through Madison College while they were still in high school. And 1,735 (36%) of those students come from high schools outside of Dane County.  These rural high school students earned more than 4,800 college credits which save them more than $830,000 in college tuition. These students represent more than 60 high schools in every corner of our district, from Baraboo to Brodhead. 

Middle school and high school students also explore Madison College Youth Career Discover Campus in the summer learning about aviation, EMS, nursing, welding, science and more.

For English as a second language learners, regional campus classes help improve their communication skills to boost employment opportunities and community involvement.

Madison College regional campuses’ industry partnerships address community needs, and our protective services programs play a crucial role in supporting rural municipalities.

High school students
Earned Madison College credit last academic year

Madison College graduates are a critical part of the workforce in our rural hospitals. Divine Savior Hospital in Portage, Fort Healthcare in Fort Atkinson and St. Clare Hospital in Baraboo have each hired more than 40 of Madison College graduates in the last five years.  

Last July, we were part of the 2023 Farm Technology Days in Sauk City, showing our commitment to Wisconsin’s agriculture industry. Madison College’s regional campus programs train technicians to service farm equipment with metal fabrication, electro-mechanical, and machine tool skills.

Regional campuses’ mission and community impact 

Madison College’s regional campuses will continue focusing on programming for our rural communities and highlight regional campus events. 

We welcome our neighbors to the Metal Mania in May at Fort Atkinson, the Skilled Trades Showcase at Portage on Sept. 25, and the Healthcare Showcase and Celebrate a Nurse 5K next spring.

We will continue to strive to strengthen our rural communities by advancing the needs of our students and employers through accessible and relevant programming. 

The combination of access to education and skills for family-sustaining jobs, collaboration with local employers to meet workforce needs, and providing vital services to the rural communities we serve make Madison College a neighbor that enhances the communities where we live and work. 

This article by Madison College Dean of Regional Campuses Shawna Marquardt was originally published in May 2024 as an op-ed.