Anyone who has met me will know there is one thing I absolutely love to talk about 24/7—Valley City State University and Valley City! I joined a group of Valley City leaders in doing just that on Friday, March 10, when KFGO Radio in Fargo broadcast Joel Heitkamp’s “News and Views” show live from the Gaukler Family Wellness, Health and Physical Education Center.
The Valley City contingent enjoyed the opportunity to talk up our hometown, and I had the distinct pleasure of sharing how the Gaukler Family Wellness Center serves as an active symbol of the long-standing partnership between City and University, and more specifically, how the Charles and Janice Stowman Education Center, located within the building, serve as home to the VCSU Department of Kinesiology and Human Performance (KHP).
I was joined by Diane Burr, KHP Department chair, and two students: juniors Jordan Rau and Marcus Wagner, who are both pursuing a physical education and health education double major and athletic coaching certification.
Diane spoke about how much the Wellness and Stowman centers mean to the department. This facility is a game-changer for our KHP students and faculty—significantly amplifying teaching and learning. As characterized by our faculty, the Stowman Education Center helps us “walk our talk” when it comes to authentic learning by enabling us to provide our students with a facility that exemplifies our commitment to health and wellness. And I love this comment: “We used to educate our students by showing them images on a screen. Now we actually walk them down the hall and show them the real thing!”
From a practical perspective, we now have the space to house the equipment needed to provide our students with a first-class, hands-on education and have even been able to add new state-of-the-art equipment. And speaking of real-life, hands-on experiences, our students are interacting with the community through class-designed projects such as a partnership with Washington Elementary. The children travel to the Stowman Education Center to attend a methods class so that our students have an opportunity to practice their pedagogical skills in the here and now.
Our future is filled with endless possibilities of partnerships, innovation, and impact!
Students Jordan and Marcus echoed much of the faculty sentiment in their own experiences. In Jordan’s words, shared with me previously, “Having a Wellness Center in Valley City is a privilege that benefits the university by providing us with the proper environment to learn about fitness. Now we can actually practice what we’re being educated on in our classes because we have a space dedicated to just that. It also helps with benefiting our overall health because we’re able to exercise right on campus, which makes it easier to merge fitness into our daily schedules. Overall, the Gaukler Family Wellness Center has taken Valley City, as a campus and a community, a step in the right direction towards leading healthier lives.”
I couldn’t agree with Jordan more. I have thoroughly enjoyed my personal use of the facility, and by working with personal trainers Dusty Null and Bailey Goolsby (both VCSU alumni!), I am living a healthier life—physically, mentally and spiritually.
There are so many to thank for this wonderful facility, from the visionaries such as Audrey and George Gaukler and their family; to the planners such as Dick Gulmon, Tyler Jacobson, and the VCSU KHP faculty; to the donors such as Duane Bott, the Stowmans, and the John Deere Foundation; and the VCSU students who supported the student fee referendum. There are so many, many people for whom our hearts are filled with deep gratitude for making this vision a reality—and so many more reasons it is a great day to be a Viking!