Telluride Foundation: Workforce Education Thru Apprenticeship Program

Telluride Foundation: Workforce Education Thru Apprenticeship Program

Naturita-based boutique law firm Bachman Law LLC is getting a little help from a Nucla High School student, while also training the community’s next generation of legal professionals. The next event relating to workforce through apprenticeships, hosted by the Colorado Workforce Center (Montrose), is Nucla High School’s annual Career Expo. That is scheduled for Thursday, April 25, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the school gymnasium. For more information on any or all WEPS District’s Apprenticeship programs, please contact Elaine Demas at the Telluride Foundation,

Sara Bachman, owner of Bachman Law LLC and Nucla High School Senior Apprentice, Michael Pfifer. Courtesy photo.

Michael Pfifer, a senior at Nucla High School, is participating in West End Public School District’s (WEPS) Apprenticeship Program and because he has an interest in law, Sara Bachman, owner of Bachman Law LLC agreed to provide him hands-on experience.

“I hope Michael gets one of two things out of this experience: his interest in law is solidified, or he decides he’s not interested in law and foregoes years of specialized schooling and expense,” says Bachman.

The WEPS Apprenticeship Program offers students a unique opportunity to gain valuable career experience while still in high school. Now in its third year, the program is overseen by Nucla High School staff members Kelly Arnold and Tracy Hill.

Arnold’s role is primarily working with students to determine where their interests lie; Hill works within the community to bring new businesses into the program. District Superintendent, Mike Epright launched the program leveraging funds from the school district budget alongside a grant from the Telluride Foundation.

“This past year, with the help of the Telluride Foundation, we also received funding from the Colorado Workforce Council as well as the Saul Zaentz Foundation. These additional grants have primarily been used to reimburse participating businesses for the wages and insurance costs for having an apprentice on staff and has made a huge difference in our ability to recruit new businesses into the program.While local businesses are eager to help, they often cannot afford to take on a new, untrained employee,” explained Epright.

Funding is also used to cover the cost of classes to compliment the student’s work experience at the Technical College of the Rockies (TCR), based in Delta.

“Many of the apprenticeships offer class credit and/or valuable certifications to our students which can either jumpstart a post-high school career or college experience,” explained Arnold.

There are presently five students actively participating in the Apprenticeship Program. In addition to Michael Pfifer, Addison Davis is a nursing apprentice at the Basin Clinic in Naturita. Chloe Nelson and Marquita Ketchum are early childhood apprentices at Little Colts Day Care Center. Cheyenne Joseph is studying nursing at Technical College of the Rockies.

One apprentice, Chloe Nelson explains: “My apprenticeship has allowed me to explore what a career in early childhood entails and has helped me discover the passion I have for teaching. The post-secondary classes and guidance I have received because of my apprenticeship is invaluable and will help me after I graduate high school as I continue on my path to a bachelor’s degree in education.”

Pamela Stamm, Manager of the Basin Clinic in Naturita has hosted several students over the past three years:

“My experience thus far has left me very impressed with the program. It provides real life experience with all of the requirements of being employed. Students must apply, be interviewed, complete a W4 form and perform serious duties. Here at the Clinic we start the students at the front desk where they answer phones, provide general information, and learn our paperwork and filing system. We then move them into a nursing atmosphere where they continue to learn, using a ‘hands-on’ approach. Apprentices are an important part of our workforce, and part of our clinic team.”

Tracy Hill is also seeing positive results with the Apprenticeship Program:

“This is true apprenticing. These students are not observers. It’s all hands-on work that requires a lot of responsibility, as well as fosters critical thinking.”

Hank Nelson, Naturita Elementary School Principal oversees Little Colts Day Care and had this to say about the program:

“This is something all educators dream of. Apprenticeships provide invaluable, supervised work that serves as credentials and experience for future employment. It’s a student’s chance to perform in the field of their interest and be seriously mentored and evaluated.”

“This is a fantastic opportunity for students in the West End and we are thrilled to support the program” explained Elaine Demas, Vice President of Initiatives at the Telluride Foundation. “We have been working with Mike Epright and his staff since the program’s inception providing both direct funding as well as technical assistance to help the district identify and apply for additional support through outside sources such as private and state grants. Whether students are college bound, heading to technical school or plan to dive right into a full-time job, we know this program is helping them prepare for their life after high school and we will continue to work with the district to help them raise the necessary funds to keep the program alive and well.”

In addition to the Apprenticeship Program, the WEPS District, in partnership with local businesses, offers numerous work-study and job shadowing opportunities for younger students who want to get a taste of any number of careers in the region. The district also hosts workshops and seminars throughout the year educating their student body on all post-high school opportunities including careers, college, and technical school paths.

Telluride Foundation, more:

The Telluride Foundation is committed to enriching the quality of life of the residents and workforce of the Telluride region. It is a non-profit, apolitical, public community foundation that makes grants and runs programs in arts, education, health and human services, community development, and social enterprise. The Foundation strives to achieve excellence for the community through its mission and core values, including promoting inclusion and maximizing benefit to all. Our work is funded through the generous support of hundreds of donors, as well as, grants from state and national foundations.

To learn more about the Telluride Foundation visit:

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