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Annual conference recognizes excellence in Eau Claire

What started as a UW-Extension grant in 2002 is now cause for a celebration.

UW-Eau Claire Continuing Education received the Excellence in Exceptional Practice in Community Service award this month for its work with the Synergy Initiative for West Central Wisconsin from the Learning Resources Network, an international association in lifelong learning, said Laurie St. Aubin-Whelihan, marketing manager for Continuing Education.

Eau Claire, as well as several other universities and technical colleges throughout Wisconsin, are part of the initiative, said Sharon Sabatke, Continuing Education member and program manager for the Synergy Conference.

The initiative brings representatives of business and industry, education and government together in collaborative efforts toward sustainable growth to nine counties along the Interstate Highway 94 Corridor, Sabatke said.

In addition, Eau Claire also received the Excellence in Business Brochure Design award for its 2005 Synergy Conference brochure.

Each year, a school hosts the conference, which is designed to give opportunities for businesses, communities, government and education leaders in the Chippewa and St. Croix valleys to come together to talk about growth in the region, Sabatke said. Both awards received are for the work Eau Claire did in the 2005 conference, which it hosted.

“It was a wonderful wonderful experience to win these national awards,” Sabatke said. “Two of them is a testament to the wonderful works and talented dedicated people we have.”

St. Aubin-Whelihan agreed.

“We were very honored and pleased,” she said, adding this is unique because work doesn’t end after the conference.

The work to improve economic growth continues beyond the conference with actual working groups trying to solve problems, which is something that St. Aubin-Whelihan said she thinks is unique.

Different groups from each country meet periodically to work, she said, adding that one example is people in Eau Claire trying to improve nutrition in schools.

“It’s really an on-going effort to position our region for economic growth.”

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