The Mountain Times

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Training for a career in recreation at Vermont resorts

Stafford Technical Center offers Recreation, Resort, and Small Business Management

Stafford Technical Center made an announcement last week that they will be launching a new program this fall called Recreation, Resort, and Small Business Management. "The focus will be on the types of careers offered by resorts and recreation businesses. There will be lots of collaboration with Killington," said Peg Bolgioni, Outreach Coordinator at Stafford Tech in a recent email. The program will consist of work co-ops, classroom time and experiencing local resorts and tourism firsthand, she added.

Cheryl Niedzwiecki will director the new program Recreation, Resort, and Small Business Management. "The state we live in really depends on the industry for revenue. If we didn't have that, it would be a very different state," Niedzwiecki expalins. "We need to fill those positions that are going to be vacant."

Niedzwiecki previously taught a program called Hospitality and Entrepreneurship but it has suffered from decreased participation in recent years. She and the staff at Stafford Tech thought that introducing a class with a different focus could reinvigorate student interest.

"We would like students to do more work co-ops in resorts and tourism areas within the state so students can get some work experience, be graded for it, and also potentially be hired by them," Niedzwiecki says. "In the past, we have had students shadow Green Mountain College students so they can see what that program would be like," she continues. Green Mountain College enjoys a mutually beneficial relationship with Killington Resort and hopefully students from Stafford Tech will be benefitting soon as well.
Megan Smith, Commissioner of Tourism for the State of Vermont is excited for new program offered at Stafford Technical Center. "They've always had such a great program down there, she said. The straight hospitality program just didn't seem to draw the interest from the students, I think adding the new dimensions to it will make a huge difference and it's going to be a huge draw. It's so appropriate with all the resorts in our community."

Smith also commented that although Stafford Tech is a pioneer in offering this kind of education to high school aged students, she expects other schools to ramp up their offerings. North Country Career Center in Newport, Vt. will likely be a popular choice due to increased development at the Burke and Jay areas, she thought.

Lyndon State, Johnson State and of course Green Mountain College all have established resort management programs but Smith sees the need for exposure at the high school level. "We have 12 resorts that have really great career opportunities. We want Vermonters to stay in Vermont and work in these resorts." The Mountain Times spoke to Smith while she was at a Mount Snow Ski Vermont media day. She said "almost all of these PR people here are from other states because we aren't educating people for this field. The more we can, the more kids can stay in this state. These are the good paying jobs. If we can educate these kids in high school, they can go right into our resorts and continue training."