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One of the key things Green Mountain High School agricultural science instructor Courtney Mayo has been emphasizing since day one of the program is the myriad job options available to those who want to work in agriculture.
Now, Mayo is teaming up with the Associated Landscape Contractors of Colorado to shine a light on just one industry they can find a career in.
“Career-focused learning allows students to gain skills in industries with a high demand for employees,” Mayo wrote in an email interview. “This introduces students to an industry that they may have not thought of as an opportunity before.”
The Associated Landscape Contractors is a group for landscaping firms all over Colorado, and has been working in the state for more than 50 years.
“In our industry, we’re seeing a serious shortage of skilled workers,” said Becky Garber, director of communications with the association. “There’s a lot of growth going on in Colorado now that we seem to be coming out of the recession, and our industry comes in at the end of all these construction projects.”
To combat this situation, the association has partnered with the Colorado Community College System and area high schools to launch a career pathways program that guides students to careers in landscaping.
“So often students end up finding a happy home in our industry, but didn’t know we existed, so they ended up spending all this time and money on an education they don’t use,” Garber said. “This program allows us to work side-by-side with students, so they can get to know us as people.”
In this new pathway, association members help to train high school teachers about the industry so they can pass it on to their students. It also provides students with connections in the industry, and opportunities to learn by shadowing and internships.
Mayo heard about the group’s efforts to reach out to students, and thought it would be a great opportunity to put students next to people in an agriculture field. Mayo received hands on irrigation training and had the opportunity to spend the day with landscapers to learn more about the industry during an event on Jan. 28.
“I not only learned how to properly assemble and install a sprinkler system but I alsolearned the importance of the profession. I was also able to network with various local companies and create a support system,” she wrote. “This irrigation tech workshop was essential to get the proper training and education to teachers and educators. This type of training only comes from dedicated individuals who have spent years in the trades and are willing to help others learn from their experiences.”
All Mayo’s students will learn some basic landscaping skills in her Intro to Agriculture class, and those who are interested will have the chance to take Landscape and Turf Management, where they will learn how to install, maintain and care for various landscapes and turf. Students will also learn some landscape design concepts as well as designing and installing an irrigation system.
As part of the association’s annual Earth Day celebration, representatives will be working on a project at the school, Garber added.
“Students learn the latest and greatest skills and technologies of the industry, which can help give them an upper hand right out of high school,” Mayo wrote. “Whether it be applying for a job in the industry or to a college program.”
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