News Release

For Immediate Release

Contact: Daniel Wackershauser, Marketing Specialist
Phone: 608.822.2303
Mail: 1800 Bronson Blvd., Fennimore, WI 53809
Date of Release: August 18, 2023

Grassroots effort sparks ELL class in Lancaster

Lancaster -

Growing Lancaster is a group of individuals from local organizations and Lancaster Area Chamber of Commerce businesses who came together in early 2022 to spark change. Among those involved in a new English Language Learners (ELL) initiative are Amcor, Grant Regional Health Center, and Southwest Wisconsin Technical College.

Spearheaded by Amcor and Grant Regional Health Center, the group’s goal is a community more welcoming to newcomers. Growing Lancaster has continued to gain momentum and take action, with the ultimate goal to strengthen the local workforce and improve inclusivity.

At the heart of Growing Lancaster is the drive to address important needs of area newcomers. One recent example is the introduction of ELL classes, held at Amcor’s Lancaster plant. This was a direct result of feedback gathered at a local focus group of Latino farmworkers, who shared challenges in moving to the area.

Growing Lancaster moved this priority to the forefront and within a short six-month timeframe, ELL classes became a reality. Funding was made possible by the Workforce Innovation Grant (WIG) through Southwest Tech, which aims to provide important language training toward career advancement, specifically in manufacturing. 

“The course has been successful. The feedback that I have received has been positive.” 

– Julie Pluemer
adult basic education/outreach coordinator at Southwest Tech.

ELL classes are designed to prepare students to speak English as quickly and proficiently as possible. The objective is to acclimate students so they can not only can excel at their jobs, but also feel comfortable and have the ability to communicate with others in their community. Gabriela Hundhausen was the main instructor for the class, with support from Ed Rink.

“Classes are intentionally small in size to allow for focused instruction and successful learning,” explained Holly Straka, WIG coordinator. “The first class included 10 participants, with plans to continue and expand more class offerings this fall.”

“Amcor is proud to be part of this initiative by hosting the classes at our Lancaster plant location,” said Angelica Lippert, safety advocate at Amcor. “It’s heartwarming to walk by the classroom and see smiling faces. I realize what a difference this initiative is making in the lives of people in our community.” 

“This Workforce Innovation Grant program at Southwest Wisconsin Technical College helps meet specific workforce needs of the Lancaster community,” said Amy Pechacek, Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development secretary. “In Wisconsin, where the unemployment rate is historically low and the labor force participation rate is high, there is a need for innovative workforce development strategies and solutions to meet demands and create opportunities.”

Growing Lancaster’s mission is multifold: To help Lancaster be a more inclusive community, achieve a vibrant economy, and to be a more welcoming place to live, work and visit. For more information or to get involved, visit and click “Growing Lancaster,” or contact City of Lancaster Mayor Stuart Harper at or Dave Smith, Grant Regional Health Center at

| Southwest Wisconsin Technical College, a finalist for the 2023 Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence, is one of 16 institutions that comprise the Wisconsin Technical College System. Southwest Tech offers more than 60 programs in a wide variety of disciplines. Courses are offered on campus, online, HyFlex and in a blended format. The college provides apprenticeship, certificate, technical diploma, and associate degree programs that respond to district workforce needs and prepare student for family-sustaining jobs and career advancement. |

Posted in Community Event, Outreach Center