Monday, August 30, 2010

Rio Salado Opens Sustainable Cafe

By David Staudacher, public relations manager at Rio Salado College

Rio Salado College officially opened its new cafe Tuesday, Aug. 24 during a ribbon-cutting ceremony at its main site, 2323 W. 14th St., Tempe. The college's employees are excited to see an abundance of fresh dining options available.

But it was clear that Michael Hodgins, the cafe manager and director of the Sustainable Food Systems program, was relishing the moment more than anyone.

"I started working at Rio Salado in February and I've been waiting for the cafe to open since then," Hodgins said. "My staff and I have been working out of a neighbor's kitchen for the past six months, which is a long time for a chef to be away from their kitchen."

It's no surprise Hodgins was eager to start working in the cafe. Before joining Rio Salado, he worked as an executive chef at Bon Appétit, a sustainable-foods contractor in the Valley. It was during this time he realized he had a passion for sustainable foods. Now, he is back in his kitchen, and it is fully sustainable.

"The cafe features energy-efficient appliances, trayless dining, compostable and recyclable food and beverage containers, and the interior is decorated with environmentally friendly paints and adhesives," Hodgins he said. "We strive for zero-waste generation through comprehensive recycling and composting. We also feature seasonal menus, locally produced food, and food that is produced using humane labor practices."

According to Hodgins, a big element of remaining sustainable relies on the cafe chefs working with Valley farmers, ranchers and artisans to see what products are at the peak of freshness. These products are featured in daily specials in the cafe allowing the chefs creative freedom to use what is being harvested from farms in the community.

"By developing partnerships with local producers, the cafe is stimulating the local economy while reducing food miles," he said. "In turn, the cafe receives and prepares better tasting ingredients."

While the cafe is beneficial to the college's faculty, staff and the local community, it also is an integral part of the Sustainable Food Systems program as it serves as a sustainable teaching kitchen for students.

"The cafe is more than just a place where food is served," Hodgins said. "Students participating in the program will work in the café as part of an internship. This will allow them put into practice hands-on what they have been learning online."

In the Sustainable Food Systems program students will learn about the real food movement, how food is produced and purchased, and even preparation techniques for the cooking and baking process. They also contribute to the fresh product selection. Vegetables grown as part of the Organic Gardening class are prepared and served in the cafe.

"There is so much to learn about sustainability," Hodgins said. "There are a lot of people using the term 'green,' but this program will truly show them a more in-depth look at what sustainability and being green means."

To learn more about the Café @ Rio, visit

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

RioPASS Featured on School Solutions

Channel 12's Kim Covington was at Rio Salado College today talking to Faculty Chair Jennifer Freed about the RioPASS program. More information about RioPASS is available at To register for RioPASS call 480.517.8580.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Scholarship Contest Deadline Nears

Rio Salado is sponsoring a scholarship contest to raise awareness about the importance of the “3Rs”of sustainability: Reduce, Reuse and Recycle.

The Art to the 3rd Power Sustainability Contest 2010 invites you, as a Rio Salado student, to enter a work of media or a piece of creative writing. Your entry should – in your own creative way – integrate the ideas of Reduce, Reuse and Recycle. You may want to start with this question: how can we integrate sustainability and the 3Rs into our lives? How can we meet our needs today and still leave adequate resources for future generations?

Winning entries will be awarded up to a $800 scholarship to be used at Rio Salado College.

Entry deadline is September 29, 2010.

We hope that you enjoy the creative process as you explore the important concept of sustainability. Best of luck with your entry!

Entering the Contest
  • Download the Student Sustainability Form and Rules.
  • Submit your entry and entry form via e-mail to: Entries not meeting guidelines and entry requirements will not be accepted.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

RioPASS on Enfoque En Tu Futuro

This clip about Rio Salado College's RioPASS program is from Enfoque En Tu Futuro, which is a Spanish language program with English subtitles. It is part of MCTV and focuses on the Maricopa Community Colleges. The entire show and more is available at

More information about RioPASS is available at

Monday, August 9, 2010

Grant Helps Teacher Launch Student Newspaper

By David Staudacher, PR Manager, Rio Salado College

Rio Salado College’s online classes allow students to attend classes wherever they are located and when it fits into their schedule. This flexibility leaves a lot extra time for students to take on extracurricular activities. 

For student Ingrid Benson, who teaches Junior English and News Production at Copper Canyon High School in Glendale, the extra time allowed her to revive a lost tradition – a student-run newspaper.

“Rio Salado’s classes couldn’t be any more convenient,” said Benson, who recently completed Tempe-based college’s Teacher-in-Residence program. “I walked to the testing center for all of the tests I took. It was very convenient for me. I also took advantage of flexible start days. I timed it to start classes when I was off work, like during Christmas break. I would spend my two weeks off advancing as far as I could go in the class.”

With the time Benson saved, she worked with a colleague to put together a plan to start a new school newspaper. While some people may raise an eyebrow to the idea of starting a newspaper, Benson believes it will be one of the most important classes in the students’ high school career and benefit the entire school.

“When you think about the whole high school experience, [the newspaper] is something students remember, and some students will keep copies of the paper,” said Benson. “I just think this is part of the high school experience.”

While Benson believes the general students will enjoy the paper, she said the students producing the paper will benefit the most.

“There are many professional skills that the students can learn from this newspaper,” said Benson. “First of all, the students will be learning proper English. There will be a lot of creative students using Photoshop and InDesign to do the advertising and design. I want these kids to take something away from this that will give them a skill for when they go out into the workforce. I want to give them something hands-on to do, not just something they read in a book. They will have published clips to bring to an interview, and that’s a big deal.”

According to Benson, the students will gain additional skills as they will be assigned deadlines and have to learn time management. They also will have to learn to work as a team.

“In this class, they will be learning a skill and be able to go out into the world and be a productive person. This is what school is all about,” said Benson. 

While most students go online to find information, Benson has been pleasantly surprised with more than 80 students expressing interest in the newspaper. And the students are not the only people who support the school newspaper.

“Budgets are tight at the school and a lot of programs are seeing cutbacks,” said Benson. “What really made this possible is a $6,000 technology grant from the Arizona Republic.”

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Spotlight on Success

Did you take classes with Rio Salado College? Did you go back to further your education? How did your Rio Salado education improve your career or quality of life? Tell us your Rio Story. Rio Salado College in partnership with MIX 96.9 wants to Spotlight the Success of Rio Salado students! Past and present Rio Salado College students are encouraged to tell us their success stories. We want to know if your Rio Salado education has helped you garner a promotion, land a new job, or transfer to a four-year university.

If your story is selected, you'll be invited to tell your story on MIX 96.9 with Mathew Blades. Plus you will have the chance to win an Apple iPAD. Rio Salado College — Education Your Way! Nominate a friend or loved one HERE.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Rio Salado Handing Out Reusable Water Bottles at Hydration Station

College employees donate 1,300 water bottles with dehydration prevention tips

By David Staudacher, PR Manager, 480.316.9703

(Phoenix) August 4, 2010 – Summer is far from over and the National Weather Service has issued an Excessive Heat Warning for Thursday. To help residents beat the heat, the Salvation Army has set up hydration stations throughout the Valley.

At the Laura Danieli Senior Activity Center, 613 N. 4th Ave., Phoenix, volunteers from Rio Salado College are handing out reusable water bottles along with chilled bottled water, hats, and additional safety information. Transportation assistance, if needed, will be provided to individuals in or potentially in distress due to the heat. The reusable bottles, which were donated by Rio Salado College employees, have the symptoms of heat stress and tips for preventing dehydration.

“Sustainability and giving back to the community are part of the culture at Rio Salado College,” said Natalie Sirovy, Rio Salado College. “The employees wanted to help the Salvation Army during these extremely hot days, and we thought donating and volunteering to distribute reusable water bottles as a way to give back while considering the environment.”

Additional Hydration Stations are located at:

  • The Salvation Army Corps Locations:
  • Phoenix Central Corps: 3308 N. 28th St. Phoenix, 85016
  • Phoenix Maryvale Corps: 4318 W. Clarendon Ave. Phoenix, 85031
  • Phoenix South Mtn. Corps: 1351 E. Broadway Road Phoenix 85040
Street Locations
  • SW corner 16th St. and Jefferson (East Lake Park)
  • NE corner 3rd Ave. and Filmore
  • SW corner 5th St. and Hatcher
  • 35th Ave. and Roosevelt (Falcon Park)
Hydration Stations will be providing relief services from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Thursday. Through this effort, The Salvation Army will keep individuals hydrated and safe from the heat.

Water also is available from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the following locations:
  • Glendale Corps: 6010 W. Northern Ave. Glendale, 85301
  • Estrella Mtn. Corps: 11 N. 3rd Ave. Avondale, 85323
  • Mesa Citadel: 241 E. 6th Street Mesa, 85201  
The Salvation Army will be collecting bottled water (8-20 oz) throughout the summer. Individuals interested in donating can drop-off water at 2707 E. Van Buren, Phoenix, AZ 85008. Contact Amy Lopez at 602.267.4170 regarding donation information.
About Rio Salado College
Rio Salado, founded in 1978, is one of the ten Maricopa Community Colleges in Arizona. The college serves more than 60,000 students annually, more than half online, making it the “college within everyone’s reach.” Rio Salado offers general education courses as well as a variety of degree and certificate programs. For more information, visit