During his 34-year tenure at Moraine Park, Industrial Maintenance Instructor Gerry Vanderloop of Malone has led a gamut of classes, jump-started several new programs, and gone on-site to train mechanics and technicians at various companies. In every endeavor, he’s worked to help students learn and ultimately attain their goals.
In his free time, he’s impacted the community with his reenactments of Buffalo Bill Cody, Wyatt Earp and Cactus Dan for the Wild West Show or Great Circus Parade. Vanderloop, who wears long sideburns and a beard, looks like Buffalo Bill Cody for a reason. About 10 years ago, a talent agent from Circus World in Baraboo invited Vanderloop to participate in a performance. He ended up riding as general in the Great Circus Parade. “I went on to perform as Buffalo Bill, so I researched him a lot and got pictures of Buffalo Bill’s authentic costumes,” said Vanderloop. From there, Vanderloop’s authentic-looking costumes evolved, along with a true interest in Buffalo Bill Cody who, starting in 1883, toured Europe and North America performing in his Wild West shows.
And just as Vanderloop brings history alive with his performances, he also works to enliven students with a love of learning. During his tenure at Moraine Park, Vanderloop guesses he’s taught more than 1,000 students, as he’s bounced from leading courses in industrial maintenance, agricultural mechanics and engine fundamentals to hydraulics and heating, ventilation and air conditioning. The best part, he maintained, is the end result.
“There’s a great satisfaction seeing students out in the community in responsible positions, where they are making good money,” he said. “It’s a good feeling to know you had a part in helping them get there.”
Vanderloop, who retires this month, maintained his career at Moraine Park has kept him “fresh” by offering him opportunities to learn new things. “Moraine Park strives to meet industry needs,” he said. “The College tries to see the future, what will be needed, and moves in that direction. I’ve always had the ability to transition and teach different classes and develop different programs. At Moraine Park, I broadened my horizons, taught different things and learned something new every day.”
In the 1980s, he clearly remembers leading a charge to create one hydraulics lab from four different locations. The initiative resulted in Vanderloop helping to build a hydraulic trainer for the lab. “The hydraulic trainer is a piece of equipment that simulates a machine with hydraulic applications and electrical controls,” he said. While many of the parts have been replaced and updated since then, that hydraulic trainer is still used today. No doubt, the trainer and lab are among many other Vanderloop contributions to have impacted Moraine Park and its students.
Among other initiatives to create new programs, Vanderloop recently helped develop the Industrial Maintenance program. And throughout his time at Moraine Park, he’s been called on to train employees at John Deere and Alliant Energy, among others.
In retirement, he said he’ll keep busy learning, experiencing and performing. After all, he boasts prominent sideburns and a beard for a reason. Along with continuing to perform as Buffalo Bill Cody, Wyatt Earp or Cactus Dan, Vanderloop hopes to carve out some time to restore old tractors; work on his small farm; develop a two-acre lake on some land he owns; earn his pilot’s license; and build or buy a plane. Mirroring his career, Vanderloop’s retirement plans are big and his goals lofty!