Outstanding volunteers recognized

July 30, 2014
Kathy Kurowski
Jack and Judy Ellickson
Gary Apperson

PLATTEVILLE, Wis. — Five University of Wisconsin-Platteville alumni were recognized for their volunteer work at the UW-Platteville Foundation’s annual Donor and Volunteer Appreciation Dinner on July 26. Brian Vaassen was the recipient of the Denny Pratt Volunteer of the Year Award. Kathy Kurowski, Jack and Judy Ellickson, and Gary Apperson were recognized with Outstanding Volunteer Awards.

Vaassen, from Cuba City, Wis., graduated from UW-Platteville in 1992 with a degree in animal science and now works for Vita Plus Corporation, headquartered in Madison, Wis. He volunteers in many different areas, including serving as treasurer on the College of Business, Industry, Life Science and Agriculture Alumni Board, assisting in the annual BILSA Alumni Golf Outing and serving on the Ag Advisory Board for the School of Agriculture. He also volunteers on campus as a guest speaker in several classes, hosts alumni events at Vita Plus and participates in UW-Platteville career fairs.

“Brian is one of the best volunteers we have working with the Alumni Association and we are so fortunate to work with him,” said Kim Schmelz, director of UW-Platteville Alumni Services.

Vaassen and his wife Tammy, a 1993 UW-Platteville graduate, are supporters of the UW-Platteville Community Scholarships for Platteville and Cuba City high schools, the Beef Center, Swine Center and Agriculture Development Fund as well as the Roger Higgs and Susan Price Scholarship Funds.

Kurowski is a kindergarten teacher in the Ashwaubenon, Wis., School District. She graduated from UW-Platteville in 1993 with a degree in elementary education and has taught for more than 20 years. Kurowski has been honored with a Golden Apple Teacher of Distinction Award three times and is the author of “Year Round Project-Based Activities for STEM Pre-K–K.”

Kurowski has volunteered her time to make several visits to UW-Platteville to mentor UW-Platteville School of Education students and teach them about developing STEM and literacy concepts with young learners. 

“Kathy is a first-class educator, demonstrated by her dynamic instructional methods, many professional accolades and published book,” said Lindsay Hollingsworth, UW-Platteville School of Education assistant professor. “I am grateful for Kathy’s willingness to mentor our students as they prepare for careers as teachers.”

The Ellicksons, of Stoughton, Wis., are large supporters of Alpha Gamma Rho at UW-Platteville. Jack, who is a current member and past treasurer of the AGR Alumni Board, graduated in 1976 with an animal science major and Judy graduated in 1975 with an elementary education major.

For many years, the Ellicksons have helped organize the AGR Founders Day Banquet for AGR alumni and students – an event that draws more than 150 people. “Without the help of volunteers like them, we wouldn’t be able to have reunions,” said Katie Friar, event coordinator for UW-Platteville University Advancement. “They truly embody the Pioneer spirit and we are so very lucky to have them as part of our Pioneer family.”

The Ellicksons also support the UW-Platteville Community Scholarship for Stoughton High School.

Apperson received his Master of Science in criminal justice from UW-Platteville in 2006. Although he lives in Anchorage, Alaska, he has found many ways to donate his time to UW-Platteville. He served on the UW-Platteville Distance Education Alumni Board from 2006-12. During this time, he worked with the UW-Platteville Alumni Association to establish the Distance Education Alumni Board as a recognized body within the Alumni Association.

Apperson continues to support UW-Platteville Distance Education by serving as a mentor to many Distance Education criminal justice students as well as serving as a representative at conferences and alumni socials.

“Gary’s passion for UW-Platteville and distance education has led to many positive things for both UW-Platteville and students, both past and present,” said Melissa Gavin, advisor for the UW-Platteville Distance Learning Center.

He also supports the Jean Fricke Criminal Justice Development Fund and Criminal Justice Development Fund.

Written by: Alison Parkins, UW-Platteville University Information and Communications, (608) 342-1526, parkinsal@uwplatt.edu


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