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El Paso County Colorado District 49

Landscapers in the making

The New Falcon Herald featured Dave Kranzís unique agricultural program at Falcon School District 49 in the February issue.Since then, Kranz, along with 28 other Colorado teachers, participated in a grassroots initiative that hopes to resolve a shortfall of workers in the landscaping business.According to a Feb. 23 news release, the Associated Landscape Contractors of Colorado, in partnership with the Colorado Community College System, has launched a Career Pathways Program to guide high school students to career opportunities in the landscape business. According to ALCC, the statewide trade association, landscape companies across Colorado are facing the worst shortage of skilled workers since 2009.The program trains teachers to train students. In a Denver classroom, an irrigation expert showed Kranz and the others how to assemble sprinkler systems, using a ìSprinkler System in a Box,î which is a training device with all the components to build a working sprinkler system on a 6-foot-long tabletop. Each teacher received a Sprinkler System in a Box to take back to their classrooms, along with the skills they can share with their students.†Falcon High School is one of the first schools in Colorado to participate in the Career Pathways training program.ìThere is a large demand for irrigation technicians. Itís one of the highest-paying entry-level positions in the industry, and it often provides quick upward mobility,î said ALCC executive director Kristen Fefes. ìThe State Water Plan projects a 500,000-acre-foot water gap by 2050, so the role of irrigation and water managers will only increase in importance.îThe program will also provide students with exposure to careers in the industry, from entry-level positions to manager and ownership levels, to landscape design, project†management, equipment operation and office†support through job shadowing and internship opportunities.ìNot every student can afford a four-year degree or wants to go to college immediately out of high schoolî said Fefes. ìThis program opens job opportunities to new high school graduates and serves as a stepping stone to advance in the industry through the Community College System, along with on-the-job training.îFefes said ALCCís landscape companies throughout the state are standing by to involve students in job shadowing and internships within their operations. Hands-on experience allows students to gain exposure to a variety of jobs and helps them hone their skills while they are still in high school.† ††The landscape industry employs about 45,000 workers and brings more than $2 billion to the Colorado economy each year. A 2015 industry poll revealed that two-thirds of landscape companies could take on more work if they had more skilled employees.ALCC has six chapters statewide. Members include horticulturalists, landscape designers and architects, arborists, installation/maintenance and irrigation professionals. For more information, visit

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