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College Success Story Highlights

Resource: College Success Story Highlights

Mesalands Community College Capitalizes on Wind Resource

Wind Energy is one of the fastest growing industries worldwide. The North American Wind Research and Training Center at Mesalands Community College is training well-qualified technicians to help meet the need for an estimated 170,000 new positions in the industry by 2030.

The Wind Energy Technology program provides real-world training experience. Students climb the College’s General Electric 1.5 megawatt ESS wind turbine and may perform actual maintenance and repair. The turbine is owned by the College and is dedicated to training and research. It is fully operational and provides power to the facility. The wind turbine at Mesalands Community College is truly the “Highest Classroom in the World.”

Their Story

A small rural town nestled along the historic Route 66 highway, Tucumcari, New Mexico, was long a destination for filming Hollywood westerns like Clint Eastwood’s “Rawhide.” Today it’s on the verge of economic rebirth built around an emerging wind industry and the resourceful instruction of Mesalands Community College, home of the North American Wind Research and Training Center (NAWRTC)—the first partnership of its kind between a national energy laboratory and a two-year higher education institution in the country.

“This MOU will help Sandia reach one of our wind energy goals—removing barriers for industry through workforce development,” says Jose Zayas, manager of Sandia’s Wind Energy Technology Department.
With an economy largely built on ranching and the trucking and rail industry, Tucumcari lost nearly half its population over the last 20 years as jobs in those sectors disappeared. In response, in 2004 the Mesalands Community College president urged the Governor to help the region capitalize on some of the best natural wind resources in the continental United States. The plan to lure the nascent energy industry to the region included two strategic objectives: attract professionals in wind energy production, research, and experimentation, and develop the capacity to train a workforce with the specific skills the wind industry demands.

Mesalands Community College designed wind energy technician training and certificate programs that create clear paths toward higher-wage jobs for area workers. The college is training electricians, engineering technicians, maintenance and repair technicians, and others to support the 22 wind farms that now dot the area landscape.

State, Federal, and Private Investment

With the training infrastructure in place, Mesaland Community College and its partners secured a $2 million U.S. Department of Labor Community-Based Job Training grant and an additional $7 million from the state to support the development of a 1.5-megawatt wind turbine and a 30,000-square-foot research and training lab—NAWRTC—which opened its doors in September 2010.

Sandia National Laboratories, a government-owned/contractor-operated facility managed by Lockheed Martin for the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration, signed a memorandum of understanding—the first of its kind between a national laboratory and community college—that enables NAWRTC to collaborate on turbine operations and maintenance, reliability of turbine components, and repair methods.

With a new-generation turbine on campus and a research and teaching/learning lab ready to launch, the stage is set for Mesalands Community College to build a powerful renewable energy workforce. The college plays a central role in helping New Mexico to meet its renewable portfolio standard.

For More Information

Visit Mesalands Community College’s North American Wind Research and Training Center and their Wind Energy Technology Program. 


Seattle Central Community College Embraces Farm-to-Table Sustainable Agriculture

Cultivating sustainable agriculture and cooking—economically producing healthy food that does not harm the environment—is an increasingly viable job creation strategy across the country. At Seattle Central Community College (SCCC), the Seattle Culinary Academy—one of the oldest in the country—has been vital to building the city’s sustainable foods industry.

For 60 years the academy has trained chefs and hospitality workers in a city with a bustling restaurant scene and increasing demand for organic, locally produced food. It’s now one of the nation’s first culinary academies to offer formal sustainability courses and infuse sustainable food system principles throughout its entire curriculum.
The academy’s mission statement says it all: “It is our responsibility to teach environmental awareness and make sure that our students understand their responsibility for the health of the planet for future generations. We want them to know that they could indeed make a difference.”

Programs and Partners

SCCC’s full-time Culinary Arts program, accredited by the American Culinary Federation Education Institute, is a six-quarter certificate or seven-quarter A.A.S. degree course. Students are required to take a series of three one-credit courses: Sustainable Food Systems Practices I and II introduce students to the current ecological, economic, and political issues relating to the food system from producer to consumer. In the third course, students gain a deeper understanding of how climate change affects globalization, politics, and food security and apply this knowledge to purchasing and cooking food. Students also learn from real-life experiences. During a required summer term, they farm an acre of land or attend a weeklong training at the Quillisascut Farm School to practice gardening, composting, and livestock care.

In recognition of the program and its instructors, faculty chefs Karen Jurgenson and Greg Atkinson were nominated as 2010 national finalists for the Chefs Collaborative Sustainability Award, which recognizes exemplary leadership in fostering sustainable food systems.

Tying Training to Regional Geography

As a major metro area within the Puget Sound bioregion, Seattle provides an ideal setting for examining the entire spectrum of food production and consumption. SCCC is taking full advantage of this location through a close partnership between its Culinary Academy and a Sustainable Agriculture Education (SAgE) program—a National Science Foundation Advanced Technological Education center that will develop associate degrees and short-term certification programs in sustainable agriculture. Students in this joint program will work together in SCCC’s urban greenhouse, growing herbs for use by on-campus dining halls, saving SCCC about $4,000 a year.

For More Information:

With full enrollment and long waiting lists every year, the Seattle Culinary Academy is in high demand. To learn more about this innovative program, please follow the links and contact below:

SCCC Culinary programs:

Farm-To-Table Training:

SCCC Sustainable Urban Agriculture and Food Systems Program:

Quillisascut Farm School of the Domestic Arts:



Sustainability EducationSustainable Ag., Food & LandWind

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