Job Corps recognizes partnerships and successes
By Lailani Upham
PABLO — Student Nathan Herron may not have been out to serve as
a role model at Kicking Horse Job Corps; however that is simply what he
did, according to a letter from State Superintendent of Public
Instruction Denise Juneau.
Herron has been noted as a success story at KHJC this year for
his exceptional motivation at Job Corps according to Shelly Fyant, KHJC
Career Training Coordinator.
Although Herron’s goals have a long way to go, Herron says, he is on his way.
Herron’s success is a collaboration of partnerships within the Mission and Flathead valley with Kicking Horse Job Corp.
Kicking Horse has been operated by the Confederated Salish and
Kootenai Tribes for more than 30 years and is administered by the U.S.
Department of Labor. Job Corps train 62,000 students each year at 122
centers across the country. Three Job Corps centers are in the state of
Montana: Anaconda, Ronan and Darby.
Most students live on campus and typically complete their training in less than one year.
Action Partnership of Northwest Montana (CAP) is one source that serves
as a host agency and has partnered with KHJC for over a decade.
CAP, is a non-profit organization whose mission is to help
people improve their lives by offering a number of community-based
opportunities. Employment and training is one of 12 programs the agency
offers to help people build success through the federal Workforce
Investment Act (WIA) for eligible students that are non-tribal.
Eligible federally recognized tribal students are serviced through the
CSKT Department of Human Resources Department (DHRD) WIA program.
The goal of the youth WIA program is to keep young people in
school or get them back in school and to emphasize job placement for
those wanting to enter the workforce. The program serves eligible youth
from 14 to 21 years old. Both CAP and DHRD departments administer funds
to pay wages, and in some cases, to the students who are on a
work-based learning position in the community, according to Lynda
Kraft, CAP case manager.
There are currently 18 work-based learning partners at KHJC, according to Tom Patch, KHJC Vocational Director.
Work-based partners are committed to a student’s success by
offering a position to a student to learn hands-on experience in their
trade. Normally work-based partners pay the student’s wage but Herron’s
case the funds were provided by the CAP agency’s WIA program to D and M
Repair shop for Herron.
The students “job shadow” on location, according to Kraft,
which means the student has the opportunity to follow his or her
supervisor to gain knowledge, understanding and experience through one
on one training.
At KHJC, students enroll to learn a trade, earn a high school
diploma or GED and receive help finding employment or advanced
training. When a student joins the program, they receive a monthly
allowance and the longer the stay the allowance increases. KHJC also
offers career counseling and transition support to their students for
up to 12 months after they graduate from the program.
Trades currently offered are business technology, carpentry,
culinary arts, dental assistant, diesel mechanics, facilities
maintenance, forestry, heavy equipment operations, medical assistant
and nursing assistant.
KHJC offers recognition for their
students’ successes such as Herron’s case that was added with an extra
praise from the Montana Office of Public Instruction.
On the national level Job Corps recognizes successful students
such as one individual, Monique Williams, who now currently works with
the Food Network. Job Corps described Williams’ success by using a
pinch of passion, a sprinkle of creativity and a generous amount of
determination which has turned her cooking aspirations into a recipe
The culinary students at Kicking Horse have been noted with the
same determination with an amazing recipe combination to rival any
culinary connoisseur, according to several community raves.
According to the National Job Corps, Chef Williams’ journey
began as a culinary arts student at Woodstock Job Corps Center in
Maryland - the same school where she landed her first job. After
several years of teaching and inspiring other young chefs, Williams
became the first former Job Corps student to become an advanced
culinary instructor. She was recognized during the Job Corps 45th
Anniversary celebration, and later joined her Woodland Job Corps Center
culinary students to cook with Chef Robert Irvine from the Food Network
show. “The opportunity to make a life-changing difference in the lives
of other young people is very special to me, and I will forever be
grateful to Job Corps for giving me that,” said Williams.
Idaho Court of Appeals Judge Sergio A. Gutierrez was also
featured as one of Job Corps successes. Gutierrez was born in Mexico
and brought to America by his parents for a “new” opportunity. The
“new” opportunity turned to one day Gutierrez waking up to finding
himself sitting barefoot on a dirt floor of his grandmother’s
“shack-like” home. “We may have been abjectly poor but my grandmother
left me a most valuable gift: a love of learning,” he said. Eventually
through several years of hardships a lady at the job service office
took an interest in him and introduced him to Job Corps’ program. “I
began to feel a sense of self-confidence. I discovered that I had
potential. I passed all my exams and became the first in my family to
earn a GED,” he said.
In 2007, Dr. Jess Ussrey a top supervisor with the Federal Aviation Administration was inducted in the Job Corps Hall of Fame.
a member of the Cherokee Nation in Oklahoma was a son of a World War II
veteran and was moved from place to place. At 16 years old he found it
hard to adjust to new surroundings and broke off to pursue his “big
break” in the music industry that never came. His father urged him to
go to Job Corps and he said that is where he discovered the structure
and discipline he needed to succeed and became a certified welder.
After Job Corps, Ussrey decided to further his education and enrolled
at Northeastern State University receiving his Bachelor’s degree in
engineering physics and math. He then earned his Master’s degree at the
University of Central Oklahoma and his doctorate at Oklahoma
Ussrey said while at Job Corps he developed a love for
community service and that has grown over the years. He serves as
reading mentor in inner-city schools and currently serves as an Equal
Employment Opportunity counselor with the Aeronautical Center’ Center’s
Civil Rights Center.
Ussrey said his confidence in Job Corps is strong and urged his
own daughter to enroll and she graduated with a health certification in
The dedicated staff and local partnerships with Kicking Horse
Job Corps are determined to help students succeed and climb higher in
their careers on the Flathead Reservation.
For local businesses or agencies interested in partnering with
KHJC on a work-based learning project for a student in any of the
trades offered above, please call Tom Patch at Kicking Horse Job Corps
Center Career Transition Services, (406) 644-2217, ext. 6328.