The Career Connect Washington regional network gathered educators, industry and community leaders in early June for a virtual celebration to recognize the dedicated efforts and committed partnerships that have supported students across Chelan, Douglas, Grant and Okanogan County for the last two years.
The event gave participants an opportunity to acknowledge the growing network of over 300 community members whose engagement ranged from participation in a single event, to hours invested in the development of 10 newly endorsed Career Launch programs in the region.
Each contribution was valued and recognized with a special token of appreciation, as network members received a special edition bag, made by local (Twisp, WA) entrepreneur EQPD. Founder and CEO, Jonathan Baker, gave opening remarks on behalf of his small business team, recognizing that teachers and educators who leaned in to invest in him, helped him to develop his sense of identity and purpose and gave him the confidence to forge a path of his own through entrepreneurship.
In addition, the network formally recognized three individuals with the following awards:
The 2021 Visionary Award was presented to Annette Herup, Moses Lake, formerly of SGL Composites LLC. Annette Co-founded the manufacturing sector alliance to support workforce development efforts in Grant County, the Workforce Alliance, and subsequently ushered in the region’s first youth apprenticeship training program in manufacturing. A program that has gone on to support eight students, across three manufacturing companies, and continues to grow, in partnership with the state Aerospace Joint Apprenticeship Committee.
Annette Herup, 2021 Visionary Award Recipient
Fellow manufacturing colleagues, Stela Heuschkel (Human Resources Director, Chemi-Con Materials Corporation), and Cari Horning, (Career Connected Learning Specialist, NCESD) presented the Visionary Award to Herup.
Stela Heuschkel noted, “Annette is driven and passionate about career connected learning.” She expanded noting that Annette was about more than just talk and took steps to ensure that the program came to life.
Horning concurred, “She had a laser focus and a passion for getting local students involved in manufacturing and trade skills in Moses Lake, Washington. She was the first person to bring youth apprentices to Grant County with a mantra of “It’s all about the kids” for everything they did involving all students.”
The 2021 Keystone Award was presented to Kristi Hutchins, Tonasket, Counselor at Tonasket High School. In roman architecture, a keystone is a small stone that holds up the big arches in some of the grandest buildings. A keystone represents that vital component that is essential to hold up the entire structure.
Kristi Hutchins, 2021 Keystone Award Recipient
Kristi O’Neill, WorkSource Community Engagement Coordinator, and Stephen McCullough, Tonasket School District Superintendent, presented the Keystone Award to Kristi Hitchins.
“Kristi has been a tireless champion of Career Connect WA and embodies everything that career connect learning is about. Whether it is her support through career awareness, career preparation or career exploration activities,” said Kristi O’Neill.
“You will not find anyone else with a stronger work ethic. She works tirelessly to meet the needs of all of our kids. Our mission is focused on learning and linking learning to life, you look at the work that she does and there is no one else that I know of that better fits that mission and working with our high school kids,” said Stephen. “She cares so deeply about each child as an individual, and finds out what their needs are and how she can help them to meet those needs.”
Dennis Conger, 2021 Legacy Award Recipient
The 2021 Legacy Award was presented to Dennis Conger, Spokane, Career and Technical Education Director for the North Central Educational Service District. It is really not possible to measure the impact of someone’s legacy, but this award was intended to recognize one person whose career impact has been profound, and will have a lasting legacy in North Central Washington.
Susan Adams, Wenatchee, SkillSource Center Manager, and Diana Hagland, Wenatchee, Wenatchee School District Director of Communications, presented the Legacy Award to Dennis Conger.
“Dennis is so creative and was always coming up with great ideas of titles and mottos and was always great with figuring out how to package whatever we were doing for youth. Dennis was an excellent brainstormer, he loved to generate new ideas and there were no wrong answers for him. He has no fear and really believes in the work of career connected learning. He was on the team to bring the first youth tech apprentice to Wenatchee and never gave up.” said Susan Adams.
“He was never afraid of a challenge, he is all about the experience and doing things that can’t be done. He is a competitor, athlete, coach and was always game-day when there was a challenge we had to face. Dennis was doing career connected learning before it was a thing, both through life and learning and through his career as an educator. Dennis really is a major key player and connective tissue for CTE [career and technical education] both in Washington State and in the Nation.”
The North Central Career Connect Washington Network is co-led by Dr. Sue Kane, the North Central Educational Service District, and Aaron Parrott, Skillsource. The network celebrated renewed funding for another 2 years (2021-2023) and looks forward to expanding the regional efforts to support additional youth in the near future.
About Career Connect Washington
Career Connect Washington was created by Governor Jay Inslee, with support and funding provided by the Washington State Legislature, to provide our state’s young people with expanded opportunities to gain real-world experience through a fully integrated career connected learning system. Business, labor, educators, government agencies, non-profit organizations, and many others have come together to create a strategy for making these opportunities available in every part of our state to every student as part of their academic journey.
Locally, the Career Connect Washington North Central Network is co-led by the Apple STEM Network (North Central Educational Services District) and Skillsource (North Central Workforce Development Council). Click here to learn more
About the Apple STEM Network
The Apple STEM Network is a three-dimensional alliance of K-12, Higher Ed and community partners in North Central Washington. We represent a diverse region with tremendous potential for STEM industry in agriculture, energy and innovation. With our collective effort we intend to: provide a constructive support system for educators who aim to meet the rising challenge for all students to develop 21st century skills and STEM literacy, to integrate community mentorship and promote authentic
project-based learning and field experiences for all levels of education, and engage students in exploring the world of opportunities on the horizon through STEM. Click here to learn more
About the North Central Educational Service District
The North Central Educational Service District is a resource to the 29 districts within the four-county service area, providing professional and timely tools to meet the needs of individual schools and districts, and a reliable point of education-related information for the communities served. The NCESD is a respected resource to other ESDs throughout Washington State.
About the Workforce Alliance
The Workforce Alliance was created to build relationships with educators, students and parents through real-life experiences to communicate career opportunities and required skills that provide a meaningful life and family-living wage in the Columbia Basin. Career Connected Learning is a combination of awareness, exploration, preparation, and work experiences developed through strong public and private partnerships. Click here to learn more