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Job Corps sees first-year success in facts and figures

Jul 10, 2016 By Alejandra Silva, Staff Writer

The Wind River Job Corps has spent about $500,000 with local vendors in Fremont County and currently employs more than 100 people, providing about $4.8 million in salaries.

The data was released in June when center director Julie Gassner met with the Riverton City Council.

To name a few of the local vendors, Gassner said the center has used the services of the Wind River Transit Authority, Riverton Regional Airport, gasoline stations, laundry businesses and local supply stores.

Students

Since it opened in May of 2015, Gassner said the center gradually grew from seven students to now house more than 200 students for career technical training in the energy and construction fields.

"Our goal is to have 300," Gassner said, "but we have come a long way."

The center held its first graduation ceremony June 17 and plans to hand out diplomas four times a year, Gassner added.

Students ages 16 to 24 receive an education at no cost at the Job Corps.

The center will average about 450 students moving in and out of Job Corps each year.

Every Monday, new students arrive, and every week about the same amount of students graduate in order to maintain a 300-student count. Job Corps's retention rate is more than 85 percent.

Out of the 228 students at the center, 43 percent are from Wyoming, 27 percent are American Indian, 12 percent are non-residential, 27 percent are female and the average age is 19.4. Non-residential students are most likely parents who live in a 30-mile radius of the center.

"Job Corps takes pride in the very diverse (student) population," Gassner said.

Community work

Students also are active in the community, volunteering with local events and activities. Students have performed more than 17,000 hours of applied skills training, including more than 300 hours at businesses in the community. They are tested once their volunteer work is completed.

Students also have participated in more than 90 hours of "off-center internships." The job shadowing experience has taken place at the site of the new school construction in Fort Washakie and with the Wyoming Department of Transportation.

Business and community liaison and outreach/admissions and career transition services coordinator Christa Stream said students are currently helping prepare the rodeo grounds for the 4th of July rodeo in Lander. They also are working on the Darcie Zimmer Memorial Recreation Path in Riverton.

"We feel it's important of our students to give back the community that has given so much to us," Stream said.

Gassner was proud to say the center is ranked No. 1 in job training matches and graduate placement; every student who has graduated and left the center is employed in a job related to their field of study.

Educational placement

The Wind River Job Corps also is ranked No. 1 in former enrollee placement, meaning students who were enrolled at the center for more than 60 days and then leave the facility are connected to a different educational system like an alternative high school or other technical training program.

Gassner told stories about Job Corps students who are either working already, are in the military or are enrolled at a college.

She said the center is hoping to obtain funding for off-site housing, which could help boost female student enrollment. Many women who would like to enroll at Job Corps are mothers, Gassner explained, and child care is not provided at the center.

A community relations council made up of local residents and Job Corps staff meets four times a year.

The next meeting is at 10 a.m. July 14 at the center.

A workforce council of industry experts meets twice a year. That group will meet at 1 p.m. Sept. 13.

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