The University of Wisconsin-La Crosse (UWL) and J.F. Brennan Company, Inc. (Brennan) formally announce their partnership. The agreement between Brennan and UWL will further the educational opportunities for students studying environmental science, equipping them to start on the job right after they graduate.
Brennan is partnering with UWL to support student research and curriculum, and to strengthen the talent pipeline, both locally and within the environmental services industry.
The memorandum of understanding (MOU) signed Tuesday, Oct. 18, will get students on the Mississippi River access to the same technology they’ll find when they head into the workforce. It will also give them an opportunity to experience what it’s like to work for a nationally recognized company like Brennan.
“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. “It’s going to be a great opportunity to get the technology that we use into the hands of students.”
UWL Chancellor Joe Gow and Brennan President and CEO Matt Binsfeld formalizing the partnership between their organizations.
Binsfeld says the new public-private partnership was based on the query of how to expand a student’s growth even more through experiential learning outside the classroom.
“We looked at how we could 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.
Roger Haro, associate dean of the UWL College of Science and Health, says students will benefit because they will experience a real-world situation.
“They see how people engaged in these large projects have to be focused on effective communication, not just the technical skills in terms of running the instrumentation,” explains Haro. “But basically, how does one set those instruments up so that the job is effective, and the data is collected? They're working with people who have to problem solve all the time, every day and in the work.”
Leadership from UWL and Brennan are eager to begin work on joint programs and opportunities for students.
The partnership between UWL and Brennan was expanded through the initiative of Prairie Springs: The Paul Fleckenstein Trust. Earlier this year, it was announced that Prairie Springs: The Paul Fleckenstein Trust gave the La Crosse Community Foundation $430,000 to fund the construction of a new research vessel for UWL’s River Studies Center. Brennan will provide maintenance support, a storage location, and instrumentation expertise for the new vessel.
For many years, Brennan has opened its doors to UWL students for paid internships. In return, the company has been able to recruit many of those interns as reliable, full-time employees. The MOU is expected to further expand the partnership to provide even more job-ready employees.
UWL graduate Ryan Sands now working as a project manager at Brennan within its Environmental Services division.
Ryan Sands, a 2015 UWL graduate, says the new partnership between his alma mater and his employer, J.F. Brennan Company, will help students receive specific skills making them job-ready. “This should build networking with local employers and provide training on potential career fields for future students,” says Sands.
Haro says the new agreement sets a more formal and growing opportunity for UWL to work with a leading regional business partner. He expects the arrangement to spark more opportunities with Brennan and other companies and organizations.
“Moving forward, partnerships like this will become even more important for us to expand the university’s impact in helping to grow the state’s economy,” Haro says.
Watch our video produced by UWL to learn more about the unique partnership between UWL and Brennan:
Career information is available here: https://www.jfbrennan.com/careers
About J.F. Brennan Company
J.F. Brennan Company, Inc. (Brennan) is a fourth-generation, family-owned, marine construction firm that specializes in environmental remediation, dam construction, commercial dive, harbor management, and submarine cable services. Working closely with public and private owners of water-based infrastructure since 1919, Brennan operates throughout coastal and inland waterways nationwide.