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Nicolet College Graduate Makes History Submitted: 05/18/2013
Story By Shardaa Gray


RHINELANDER - Students around the Northwoods graduated today. One local graduate made history at Nicolet College.

"As a Nicolet Grad, not only will your education enhance you as an individual, but you will enhance the greater good of the Northwoods community as an educated citizen of our democracy," says Nicolet College President Elizabeth Burmaster.

Hundreds of Nicolet College students walked across the stage after accomplishing their goal… earning a college degree. But one student was challenged in a way no other Nicolet graduate has experienced. Jeff Hedberg is legally blind.

"Other people can follow in my foot steps and do exactly what I did. They just need to put one foot in front of the other and believe that there are people out there that will give them a chance and opportunity," says Hedberg.

Jeff's wife Sylvia Hedberg Thomas says it all started a couple of years ago when her husband decided to go back to school. The director of disability service reached out to him to help build a plan that would ensure Jeff reached his goals.

"When Bob told Jeff everything that he would be able to do, Jeff's like 'You really think I can do that?' And I was sitting there going, 'Well yea. Of course you can," says Hedberg Thomas.

Everybody either has or will have a disability to some extent within their lifetime. Technology can and will help most of them get through the challenge of their situation," says Hedberg.

Even though Jeff's tutor Charmaine Jacques helped him out, she says she learned from him as well.

"I learned a little bit of brail from Jeff and I learned a lot about his software that he uses," says Jacques.

This isn't the last stop for Jeff. He plans to get his masters at Stout University.



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FLORENCE COUNTY - Driving through the Northwoods, you can see plenty of deer, cows, and horses… But bison? That's a little rarer.

Unless you travel to a ranch in Florence County, where the Rock family thinks they've tapped into a special and healthy food source.

Raising bison has always seemed normal to Michael Rock. His favorite is Badaxe, who is 25 years old.
"He became my baby and I feed him maple syrup and apples all the time, that's his favorite treat," said Michael.

But the Rock family knows their livestock are rare for these parts.

"We got into it for the health issues because now we know what we're eating," said David.
David started the business about 10 years ago. These days, the Rocks have around 130 bison on their Florence County ranch.

"For me this is enjoyment because I'm outside and I'm with my family. And I like to be outside and work with them on that," said David.

Two of the Rocks' four children live and work on the ranch.

"Being able to tell them what to do. I'm still the dad, so I rule the roost. They are a big help and they do have good ideas. You do have to watch the younger generation," said David.

Their daughter, Josie, and son, Michael, help with feeding and maintaining the herd.

"My favorite are the babies. The babies when they're younger, they like fighting and playing. And they'll just be running around and playing," said Josie.

But raising these animals isn't just about entertainment. In the 1800's, bison were almost killed off. Now, the Rocks hope to promote the animal's health benefits be carefully managing which ones go to be processed.

"Bison is about the only other meat out there that they can eat. It's healthier than chicken, it's healthier than salmon, pig, beef, anything. It's the top of the line," said Karen.

Raising an animal is a large project, one that Michael would like to do for a long time.

"I like bailing hay with the tractors, I like taking care of the animals. I have a future goal, to have big barns full of them," said Michael.

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