Harrisburg High School starting landscaping apprenticeship

Published: Sep. 15, 2023 at 5:14 PM CDT
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HARRISBURG, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - Many school districts across South Dakota have spent the last few years trying to find ways to get students to learn hands-on and work with potential employers after graduation. A new addition to the Harrisburg High School is looking to do just that.

As part of the Start Today SD Pathway Partner Initiative, the Harrisburg School District received a grant to add a greenhouse to its high school. The program is meant to start apprenticeships to meet workforce demands in the state, and Harrisburg is partnering with Weller Brothers Landscape Professionals and Southeast Tech to do that.

Students at Harrisburg will get the opportunity to not only expand their education in school but also to get as close to a real-life opportunity working with companies and learn the skills they need in the landscaping industry.

“One of the things that we try to really focus on as a district is working with our community partners and asking them, what is it that they need from us as we’re teaching students to prepare for those future careers,” Harrisburg School District Director of Instruction and Federal Programs Michael Amolins said. “There are obviously a lot of hands-on projects. It’s really about trying to simulate, in a classroom setting, what it looks like if they’re actually going to be out there in the field. That’s a difficult thing to do without support.”

“The landscape industry has fallen behind on that. Some of the other trades, plumbing, electrical, and HVAC trades. I think this whole project with Harrisburg is a demonstration of us catching back up,” Weller Brothers CEO Cole Weller said. “We hope at Weller Brothers to make this a recruitment effort. But also for the greater good of the industry. We’ve got a responsibility to make sure that we’re continuing to develop students at the high school level.”

Construction on the greenhouse itself isn’t done yet, but it’s almost there. Soon enough, students will be utilizing it to further their education and go down the path further to a career.