Economic developer turns to work-based learning clearinghouse
Educators, students, businesses and nonprofits rely on the Iowa Clearinghouse for Work-based Learning. Such is the case with Fayette County Economic Development and Tourism in northeast Iowa. The director of the organization, Mallory Hanson, came upon a project in her area that was being done through the clearinghouse, and it caught her interest.
That interest turned into the project Picture Perfect! with the North Fayette Valley School District. The goal of the project for the students was to give them experience with photography from the standpoint of the economic development industry. For Hanson, the goal was to curate fresh photos to use to promote Fayette County.
What motivated you to try the clearinghouse and reach out on a project?
I first found out about the clearinghouse after a local project was completed at our coffee shop in West Union. I didn't know this at the time, but Euphoria Coffee worked with the North Fayette Valley shop class to design, develop and install this new outdoor sign. This was a great real-life example that piqued my interest in the clearinghouse and encouraged me to learn more. I had already been talking with my non-profit board of directors about ways to work with our schools, so this created the perfect opportunity for partnership.
Laura Williams, the work-based learning coordinator, invited me and other organizational leaders to a community think tank in the winter of 2019 after the sign was complete to learn more. I attended along with other county and community representatives, and we had the opportunity to fill out interest forms and even speak with some of our local teachers. This event got me and others excited about the potential of future partnership.
The connections we made at the community think tank started evolving into a pool of projects, some of which are now on the clearinghouse website.
I have begun reaching out to our local businesses through my organization to help build interest in creating more opportunities for students to work with them. I created a page on our website to feature some projects happening in our county and to lead interested businesses and organizations to our clearinghouse projects.
How did your organization benefit or grow from engaging in this type of authentic project learning with students?
The clearinghouse has been the perfect catalyst to help me begin making connections with our schools. One of our goals as an organization is to develop future leaders in our youth and to encourage them to stick around in northeast Iowa. We are always looking for ways to promote the various industries and career opportunities in Fayette County. Getting students involved directly with our businesses and communities is a way for us to directly impact their future potential to live, work and play in Fayette County.
I encourage organizations and businesses to consider using the clearinghouse to help make local connections with businesses and youth.
What advice or guidance would you offer to other organizations about using the Clearinghouse?
Remember, this is a partnership. It has created an abundance of opportunities for my organization to create future leaders, volunteers, workers and residents in Fayette County and the northeast Iowa region!