WSU’s floating classroom “Cal Fremling” now home in Winona
Winona State University’s floating classroom, the Cal Fremling, was delivered to Winona last week, making its maiden voyage from La Crosse to its home port.
Members of Cal Fremling’s family, the Griffith family (whose contributions helped make the boat possible) and the university community boarded the boat in Trempealeau on a beautiful Friday afternoon for a 2 ½ hour cruise to Winona.
University President Scott Olson said that having such a learning resource is a big deal for the university. Olson said a lot of people came together to make the project a reality, including both facility and alumni.
The boat is named for Cal Fremling, a long time Winona State professor and Mississippi River advocate. Cal’s wife, Arlayne, said Cal would be overwhelmed by the gesture. As a professor, Fremling liked giving his students a hands on learning experience. Arlayne said he often took his students out on the river making the boat a fitting tribute to his legacy.
Also on board for the trip was Cal’s granddaughter Kirsti Hendrickson. It was her first time on the river since her grandfather passed away. She expressed her pride in the honor bestowed upon her grandfather.
The Cal Fremling is wired for use of the latest technology. For instance, on-board cameras have the ability to live stream video back to students in the classroom. Hendrickson said her grandfather wasn’t from the technology age, but would be impressed by its educational value.
Any student who had Cal Fremling for a professor received an automatic invitation to enjoy the river with him. In the weeks leading up to the christening, Arlayne said she heard from a number of his former students.
President Olson expects the Cal Fremling to be well used by the university and not just by the biology department. That has Mayor Mark Peterson excited. He said the Winona County Historical Society already has plans to hold an event on the Cal Fremling.
Some commented during the trip that all that was missing were mayflies. And before the trip was over, there was one of them on board too as if to say Thanks Cal, we miss you.