State Farm Insurance Donates to the West End Vocational Initiative
State Farm Insurance recently donated $5,000 to the Lake Superior Community Partnership Foundation’s West End Vocational Initiative. Local State Farm Insurance Agents Pam Kauppila, Kara Applekamp, Marvin DeMilio, and Rod Lizak helped secure the donation.
The Initiative is focused on introducing and improving vocational skills in students so that, upon graduating from high school, they will be able to further those skills and work toward a promising career. Currently, business and industry are facing a looming crisis due to the lack of skilled workers and the numbers of pending retirees. Industry officials in Marquette County are in need of employees with mechanical, hydraulic and electrical skills.
Senator Mike Prusi remarks, “This generous contribution to the LSCP Foundation’s West End Vocational Initiative will go a long way toward helping diversify the career choices of our students and fill a need that exists in our local economy. The State Farm Foundation is to be congratulated for this thoughtful effort.”
“State Farm supports efforts to ensure all children have access to an education that will allow them to achieve their greatest potential,” says Marquette State Farm Agency Field Executive Mark Storm. “State Farm’s involvement is not just a philanthropic gesture, but a serious response to a workforce issue. Technology has changed the way the world works.”
“We see an increasing need to foster interest in vocational-type programs, particularly in the Upper Peninsula,” reports Dale Hemmila, Cliffs Michigan Mining representative on the Vocational Initiative committee. “Industry throughout our area is behind the push to offer high school students the opportunity to explore and learn basic skills that would lead to professions in the vocational arena.” Darlene Gendron, Upper Peninsula Power Company (UPPCO) who along with Hemmila co-chairs this initiative, echoes Hemmila’s concerns. “The future is certainly bright for our youth who are interested in pursuing certification in a number of vocational areas. Receiving a quality introduction at the high school level will be a tremendous help to students and to the industries who will employ them.”
The West End Initiative would be housed in Westwood High School with the enrollment open to students from Ishpeming, Negaunee, Republic-Michigamme and Westwood high schools. Girls and boys will be encouraged to enroll. NICE Superintendent Henry Bothwell explained that “…because we have much of the equipment somewhat in place and have offered similar programs in the past, Westwood is an ideal location to host the Initiative. The equipment would have to be updated and a curriculum established but the interest of industries shows great promise for the proposal. We hope to have the basic program underway in September with the opening of the 2006-07 school year with the full curriculum scheduled to begin the fall of 2007. There are improvements to be made as additional financial support is in place.”
Courses offered at the high school level will also receive dual credit through a partnership with Northern Michigan University. Students would then be able to choose post secondary options such as the electrical line technician school, certificate or associate programs at NMU or even engineering programs.
From front to back:
Holding the check are State Farm Insurance Agents, Pam Kauppila and Kara Applekamp; and West End Vocational Initiative Co-Chair, Dale Hemmila
Back Row: State Farm Insurance, Agent Nick Gualazzi, the State Farm’s Good Neigh Bear; State Farm Insurance Agent, Marvin DeMilio; Westwood High School Principle, David Boase and NICE School District’s Vice President of the Board of Education, Steve Nelson.