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MEDP Spark- The Gift that Keeps on Giving:

Dec 10, 2020

Home- Woodshop  Pathways Holiday Tree
Student Projects from the 2019 Holiday Fair (a pre-covid fundraiser for Pathway Programs)

What’s on your holiday wish list this year? Maybe it’s a favorite local product like Alchemist Jam or a wine club membership from one of the  surrounding vineyards? Perhaps you’ve been strolling down 3rd street and found the perfect gift at one of the locally owned businesses? Thanks to the ingenuity of our McMinnville business community, educators are also putting together wish-lists to help build take-home tool kits so students can continue to have hands-on learning experiences at home.

At MEDP we are always looking for ways to help support our emerging workforce, and we all know the saying “A Rising Tide Raises all Ships.” Over the past few years we have loved seeing the collaborative creativity that has gone into Rising Together, an initiative started through Solid Form to support skilled trades and finding right-fit career paths. It’s estimated that ⅓ of the skilled trades workforce will be retiring in the next five years, and not nearly enough people entering the skilled trades to make up the gap. This means we won’t have enough of a workforce to meet the needs in essential jobs like infrastructure and construction. Rising Together was started as a way to help bridge the gap between local industries and students as a way to help support interest and education about opportunities in skilled trades careers. 

Edu Tour2019 EDU-Tour at Solid Form: Educating local youth about career opportunities in skilled trades

Similarly, the MEDP Career Bound program was created to help inspire and connect recent high school graduates with internships and apprenticeships around Yamhill County in a variety of positions including skilled trades like manufacturing, carpentry, construction, fabrication, waste management, utilities, plumbing, health services, and many others. 

In 2019 The Rising Together Custom Crush project was created to help fund scholarships for students entering the skilled trades, and this year money from the Vocational Endowment Fund  will be used not only to fund scholarships, but also to help supply local teachers with the materials needed for project based learning tool-kits.

Veronica Chase, Assistant Principal at McMinnville High School said “One of the benefits of the Pathways Program is that students are able to get hands-on experience. I love tasting the incredible dishes created by the Culinary Arts Students, seeing the innovation of our engineering students, and enjoying the amazing projects that come out of the Fabrication & Welding and Construction programs. Our educators are going above and beyond to make sure that these skills are translating through Comprehensive Distance Learning, and these take-home kits will be such an asset for students who are craving more of the hands-on and interactive projects.”

Deven Paolo, the co-founder of Solid Form began reaching out to local teachers and administrators in early November to see if there was a way that local businesses could help make project-based learning more accessible to students. “Building and creating projects is a critical component of vocational and STEM learning programs. We wanted to put together kits that could be sent home with students and provide them with these types of valuable educational opportunities during Comprehensive Distance Learning. We wanted to make sure that students in Yamhill County have the ability to get their hands on equipment and materials that make the content they're learning tangible.” 

Iris Armenta completed the Visual Arts Pathway at McMinnville High School in 2019. She was able to take classes like AP Studio Art and 2D painting, but she also decided to take an entry level welding class. She merged her newfound interest with her artistic talents and won the state championship title for “Welded Sculpture” through SkillsUSA. Iris took this new skill, and  applied for an internship through Career Bound and was placed at Solid Form, where she is currently a Level 1 Fabricator.  Her interest in one elective class, led her to an unexpected career path where she is able to use her artistic creativity.  One of the huge benefits of the Pathways Program is that it increases students' engagement because they get to select hands on learning experiences that are interesting to them and also open them up to new career opportunities like Fabrication, Carpentry, and Computer Science.  

Dave Clauson the Engineering & Robotics Teacher at McMinnville High School said “The students in my Principles of Engineering course study, among other concepts, sources of energy, physical laws around electricity/circuitry, and machine control through programming.  We already have some sets of Arduino microcontrollers and the resistors, LEDs, switches, and other components that student groups would use collaboratively, but not enough to send home with each student. I asked Deven and the supporters of the endowment fund if they could help fund the purchase of Arduino kits which will allow all my students to have the experience of taking a concept they've been studying online and apply it with these components.” 

“Energy, electricity, and computer programming are only so interesting when you're studying them conceptually, but the hands on application piece is critical to their understanding. The experience it will provide for our students to apply the concepts they've studied will draw students into their learning and give them the ability to demonstrate their growth.”

Tool Kit from Patton Middle School        Tool Kit
Examples of ToolKits from earlier in the School Year

Currently, the project-based learning toolkits are being assembled for STEM classes at Patton and Duniway Middle Schools, McMinnville High School Pathways classes in Construction,  Fabrication & Welding, and Engineering & Aerospace Sciences, as well as Manufacturing classes at Yamhill-Carlton High School. Community members and businesses are invited to contribute to the creation of these Vocational Tool Kits by donating to the Rising Together Fund or by donating specific items such as 24 gauge sheet metal, tools, safety glasses, or offering services to cut metal or other materials. These toolkits will help facilitate a hands on learning experience for nearly 400 local students, and potentially inspire the next generation to explore careers in the skilled trades. Connect with the Vocational Endowment Fund and donate to the Toolkits here. 

Rising Together isn’t the only local program that is contributing to educational tools in McMinnville. Over the past 22 years, the McMinnville Education Foundation has given out over $525,000 in the form of mini-grants to help educators purchase books, supplies, science materials, and technology tools.  This year they were able to fund an Artist-in-Residence and Science Experiences for the 2020-2021 school year as well as award 19 grants which will fund the purchase of nearly $16,000 worth of supplies.

Here are a handful of ways you can get involved and give the gift of education by supporting our local students during Comprehensive Distance Learning and beyond.  

Do you have other ideas on how to engage with students? Would you like to mentor the next generation or support our emerging workforce in other ways? We’d love to connect with you! Your support helps to 'grow our own' emerging workforce which contributes to the vitality of our community: 503.474.6814




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MEDP's monthly newsletter, The MEDP Spark, received a Silver Award from the International Economic Development Council in 2017.

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