Hayden and South Routt School Districts Collaborate on Yampa Valley RISE Program

The Yampa Valley RISE program is a unique grant-funded collaboration between the Hayden and South Routt School Districts which will expand Career and Technical Education (CTE) programming in Hayden and Soroco High Schools.

In 2021, the Districts were awarded a $1.05M grant from Governor Polis’ RISE (Response, Innovation, and Student Equity) Education Fund. Funding supports career connected learning experiences that are aligned to the needs of our local economy. The Yampa Valley RISE project focuses on the expansion of Career & Technical Education (CTE) agriculture pathways and an aligned Kindergarten through 12th grade curriculum in collaboration with Colorado State University. Yampa Valley RISE will build upon established CTE programming in both districts and significantly expand to include all 6 CTE Pathways under Agriculture, Natural Resources, and Energy. Starting in 2022, Hayden and South Routt will be the first School Districts in Colorado to offer all 6 comprehensive pathways.

The purchase of all equipment in the labs will be covered by the RISE grant and a Perkins Innovation grant. However, because grant funding cannot be used for the capital expenditures, facilities construction and renovations needed to complete the career pathway labs, the Yampa Valley RISE Fund has been set up at YVCF to facilitate charitable donations. These donations will be split between the Hayden and South Routt School Districts to support the RISE Program and construction of the labs.

Currently, over 50% of the students at each high school are taking advantage of Ag programs, while lessons in the Developing Individuals and Growing Stewards (DIGS) program are being taught at the K-5 level, and Intro to Ag classes at the middle schools. The high schools currently offer Intro to Ag and Fundamentals of Ag along with automotive, welding, horticulture, and animal sciences classes. Through Yampa Valley RISE, programming will be expanded to include food products and processing, wildlife management, and natural resources. These choices will impact the futures of our students by enabling hands-on and work-based learning opportunities.

High school teachers at both districts work collaboratively to offer expanded curriculum for students and match their skill sets to industry standards. With the remodel of existing facilities for hands-on learning labs, students will have the opportunity to practice essential skills for post-secondary education or workforce development. In addition to hands-on learning, students will earn certifications in welding and food service, and have the opportunity to graduate with an Associate’s Certificate in Agriculture from Colorado Northwestern Community College. The RISE Program will allow each district to focus on how students can expand their current agricultural businesses and Supervised Agricultural Experience (SAE), providing essential equipment and labs where they can receive proper training that is currently not available. Through development of these career pathways through RISE, students will be able to hone skills during high school in career pathways that are not currently accessible until their third or even fourth year at a university, such as meat fabrication and processing. Parallel opportunities include natural resources, agricultural mechanics/welding, and plant sciences.

Like many other industries, agriculture is changing. Career and Technical Education (CTE) is vitally important for students to discover avenues that foster their individual talents, to prepare for post-secondary education, and to develop employable skills. Through the RISE Program, the districts are leveraging the agricultural roots of the Yampa Valley to expand career-connected learning opportunities and enable students of Hayden and South Routt to thrive in the future of Colorado’s economy by aligning education with industry demands.

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