Ridgewater’s Biology and Agriculture Faculty named 2022 Outstanding Educators
April 25, 2022
Hutchinson and Willmar, MN – Ridgewater College’s Breann Wozniak and Kari Slinden were recently honored for their teaching excellence by the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities System Board of Trustees.
Minnesota State recognized Outstanding Educators at an April 20 celebration banquet in St. Paul and recognize the two of them on the Minnesota State awards webpage at www.minnstate.edu/stories/botawards.
“The nominations of Kari and Breann are driven by student and peer feedback,” said Ridgewater College President Dr. Craig Johnson. “It’s great to see our faculty receive public recognition for the work they do with our students every day. We are very fortunate to have Breann and Kari at Ridgewater!”
Wozniak has been an educator at the college and secondary levels for 17 years. The Chaska resident began her teaching career at Battle Creek Central High School in Battle Creek, MI, but has spent the last ten years teaching various biology courses from microbiology and human biology to physiology and genetics at Ridgewater College, Hutchinson campus.
“I am a passionate educator, and I am so grateful for this nomination’s recognition,” Wozniak said. “It is so rewarding to be recognized for doing the work that I love.”
Highlights from her nomination are included on the Minnesota State online recognition: “Wozniak engages students through meaningful small group work and related assignments, lessons that are tailored to student backgrounds and interests, and applied work, always encouraging students to take ownership of their learning.”
Wozniak’s nomination support also commended her for her student connections. “One of Breann’s strengths is her ability to connect with students and extend a level of comfort within a wide range of Biology courses. Through varied instructional and assessment approaches, Breann makes Biology content accessible, engaging and relevant to learners across many different program areas.”
Wozniak holds an Associate of Science degree from Alpena Community College in Alpena, MI, a Bachelor of Science in Education degree from Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo, MI, and a Master of Science Biology Education degree from Minnesota State University, Mankato.
Slinden also started her teaching career at the high school level at Buffalo High School and has now taught in seven different programs within Ridgewater’s Agriculture Department for the last nine years.
“This award means a lot to me, knowing that a student or students nominated me,” Slinden said. “I am doing what I love and try to make my classes better each time I teach them. I really enjoy getting to know students and teaching them hands-on skills they can use in their careers.”
Slinden, who is from Grove City, said the awards program was very professional and inspiring. “There are so many awesome instructors in the Minnesota State system!”
Her nomination highlighted the following related to Slinden’s teaching: “Kari Slinden has forged partnerships that give students valuable field experience, and thanks to her ability to connect with students, faculty, and industry, she serves as a role model and informal leader in the college and community.”
Additional support for her recognition stated the following: “Kari is a talented and dedicated Agriculture instructor who prides herself in adding value to her students’ educational experiences and connecting them to the much larger world of Agriculture. Her determination, sense of commitment, and willingness to partner allow Kari to both challenge and support students to reach their full potential in the Agriculture programs and life.
Slinden holds an Associate in Arts degree from Ridgewater College in Willmar, MN, and a Bachelor of Science in Agricultural Education degree from North Dakota State University in Fargo, ND. She has also earned professional certificates in cattle artificial insemination, and pork and beef quality assurance and
For more information about the Minnesota State awards, go to www.minnstate.edu/stories/botawards.
For more information about Ridgewater College, go to www.ridgewater.edu.