Available funding for career and technical education (CTE) and regional occupational programs (ROP) has been harder and harder to come by in recent years, officials say, forcing school districts to cut back on certain programs and services.

Members of the team with the Tri-County ROP program, through the Sutter County Office of the Superintendent of Schools, put their heads together to figure out a way to expand services and boost participation in the local program. They came up with an idea to build state-of-the-art classrooms on wheels, something they say has never been done before. 

“We realized that transportation was one of the hardest parts for our students. Some of our school sites don’t have these types of facilities or equipment, so we thought, ‘let’s take the program to them,’ so we came up with these trailers where we could train students and community members where they are at,” said Eric Pomeroy, assistant superintendent of adult and career education for the Sutter County superintendent of schools.

Using over $500,000 in grant funding, the program purchased two trailers and outfitted them with all of the necessary equipment needed to train in two different fields of study. One trailer is retrofitted for culinary studies and the other for advanced manufacturing. 

“We are building a better student with the endgame being employment,” said Doug Criddle, a regional coordinator for the program. “These trailers have everything you’d find in a professional kitchen or manufacturing facility. The trailer is an application for the students to learn, say, advanced culinary skills so that they could be ready to jump directly into the program out at Yuba College or into a trade.”

Pomeroy’s team worked with various businesses and industries throughout the area to first see where their need was before developing plans on how to best train ROP participants for success. Curriculum was developed based on meeting the various community partners’ standards and requirements.

The program also teaches the students entrepreneurial skills. For instance, the culinary truck will not only see students working side-by-side with a chef, but it will see the students also selling that food where they are at, and the profits will go back into helping self-sustain the program. It’s a crash course into Business 101, Criddle said.

The program serves Sutter, Yuba and Colusa counties. The trailers will be used by both students at the participating high schools and various middle schools, as well as those enrolled in adult education from around the community. 

“This is a way to bring the community together through education, and it’s a great opportunity to make a better student,” Pomeroy said. “It’s a way for them to learn about different career pathways because they can’t do that unless they have the ability to try new things.”

The Tri-County ROP program plans to hold a grand opening for the public to view the trailers on Nov. 8 at the Sutter County Superintendent of Schools headquarters – 970 Klamath Lane, Yuba City. There will be students cooking food at the trailers and manufacturing activities.

“This is something we did in response to the lack of available career education and as a way to bring it to the students,” Pomeroy said. “And we are just getting started.”

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