EWC preparing for Wyoming’s economic needs

TORRINGTON – Eastern Wyoming College President Lesley Travers addressed a variety of programs and plans she has in mind during her regularly scheduled Public Roundtable, Thursday, Jan. 11. They range from her participation as a hunter in the annual 2-Shot Goose Hunt, to quilting, to new student training opportunities.
 During a relaxed, extended discussion, Travers revealed that uppermost on her list for the future are workforce training options. These include opportunities that will be created through the construction of the recently completed Career and Technical Education Center (CTEC) and the ATEC, or Agricultural Technology Education Center, which is scheduled to come on line in 2019.
Travers’ strategic planning includes the Douglas campus, as well, where she expects to initiate a gunsmith program this fall, the only one in Wyoming.
However, she said future plans depend a lot on Wyoming’s
“The Governor is very supportive of the community colleges, but we have to wait and see what the budget looks like,” Travers said.
She said EWC is also fortunate to have the CTEC and ATEC.
“We’re lucky we got (the bond approval) when we did. A lot of people gave a lot of time and expertise, so that we got the best bang for the buck,” Travers said. “It’s going to be a long time before there’s much community college construction. We probably wouldn’t have the ATEC if it hadn’t already been on course. Other bond issues
have failed.”
Travers also explained a project that includes Dr. Darrell Wilkes, a private consultant on Career Technical Education for ATEC. During his six-month contract, Wilkes will give suggestions on the planned integration of programs and utilization of the
ATEC facility.
Other potential programs include the University of Wyoming and all of the state’s seven community colleges. She said that as much as 60 percent of the population is expected to need some skill training beyond high school.
“We value career and technical education as much as academics,” Travers said. “And we put our money where our mouth is.”
In addition to the two technical programs, Travers explained some of the work being done with the Wyoming Workforce offices in Torrington and other locations.
Contributing to this conversation was Callie Allred, workforce specialist, Wyoming Department of Workforce Services in Torrington. “We help (financially) put some of our clients through your programs, like welding, cosmetology, CNA and CDL’s,” she explained.
She and Travers agreed that the CNA and CDL training programs need to be offered more frequently, and that is a possibility.
This led to Travers offering ideas for future workforce programs. These include drone repair, phlebotomy, mortuary science, WYDOT and OSHA employee training, machine tooling, and advanced computer technology. Another topic of interest is specialized training to provide for the needs of the increasing number of senior citizens, such as dementia
patient care.
Another training need at this time in the Torrington area is the result of the announced closure of the Western Sugar Cooperative facility when the sugar processing campaign concludes later this winter. Approximately 200 positions, mostly seasonal, will disappear with the closure. Positions in the powdered sugar division are expected
to continue.
The women agreed that a replacement industry is necessary in order to retain residents and to bolster the tax base.
“I feel strongly about meeting these needs,” Travers said. “I want to make EWC as wonderful as I possibly can, so when I leave, it’s a great place.”
On the lighter side of her EWC career, Travers revealed her penchant for quilting and baking cookies, and how she uses them to boost the morale of the college.
In addition to making quilts for faculty and staff as a way to say “Thank You,” Travers said she likes to give them as tokens of recognition for special efforts. Most recently, welding instructor Stan Nicholls received one for the efforts of his Skills USA students who raised funds to purchase holiday gifts for children attending the on-campus Torrington Learning Center (TLC).
Travers concluded by inviting the visitors, Leann Mattis, Janet Bass and Allred, to participate in future Roundtable discussions. And she encourages more area residents to attend the gatherings that are held in the CTEC Conference Room, 12-1 p.m., the second Thursday of each month. Participants are welcome to bring their lunches.
“I feel strongly about these meetings,” Travers said. “They are one way I can connect with the community and make EWC as transparent as possible.”

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