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Career Education Cooperative gives opportunities to area youth
deitrich ward hora
Among area business leaders participating in the launch of the Career Educational Cooperative were, left-right: Anne Deitrich and Jerry Ward of Seats, Inc. in Reedsburg and Brian Hora of METCO Fuel Systems in Hillsboro. - photo by Contributed/Dorothy Thompson

The Pippin Conference Center/Melvill Hall on the University of Wisconsin-Richland campus was the site on June 16 of a gathering to launch the Career Educational Cooperative (CEC), a new regional organization with goals of retaining area youth, enhancing educational opportunities, and connecting quality employees with regional industries.

UW-Richland is a post-secondary educational partner in the organization that also includes Southwest Wisconsin Technical College. Businesses involved in the program, a growing list, include Seats, Lowe Industries, Rockwell Automation/Allen-Bradley, Richland Center Utilities, METCO, and Miniature Precision Components.

Planning for CEC has been underway during the past year. It’s a program for high school seniors to provide students with 450 hours of engagement aimed at helping them discover development opportunities in southwest Wisconsin. Students take part in 450 hours of apprenticeship in area industries, complete seven credits of studies at SWTC, and three credits of study at UW-Richland.

The UW-Richland course that students will take is Career and Life Planning, designed to help students develop a long-term career vision.

Area schools involved in the partnership are Richland Center, Ithaca, Riverdale, Hillsboro, Kickapoo, and Eagle. CEC is launching this fall with about a dozen student participants.

Community partners–a growing list–include Westby Co-op Credit Union, Richland Rejuvenates, Richland Center Fellowship, and the Five Points Lutheran Church.

Samuel Peterson, a student participant who will be a Kickapoo High School senior this fall, said he opted to join the program to open his eyes to possibilities and help him on his way to finding a job.

For more information about the Career Exploration Cooperative, contact coordinator Amber Burch by email at or by calling (608) 495-0480.