We all know that our valley is a treasure trove of natural beauty. However, have you ever asked yourself what Wasatch County’s most valuable attraction is? I believe it’s the people who live here, and that includes our amazing youth.
Wasatch Community Foundation agrees. According to their website, ourwcf.org, the mission of their Educational Pillar is to help produce, “The Finest Youth on the Planet!” Helping our youth find their way in the world and giving them as many educational opportunities as possible is at the forefront of everything that WCF Education Pillar Chair, Jim Ritchie, does. Cassandra Smith, WCF Marketing Chair, shared that, “As one of the founders of Wasatch Community Foundation [Mr. Ritchie] helped to develop the UVU Heber Valley Campus and [continues to] assist the Wasatch School Foundation in providing scholarships to every high school senior that applies, along with our annual Kati Fischer Teacher of the Year Award.”
WCF’s Educational vision for Heber Valley is to become an “Educational Everest.” Cassandra explains that “WCF currently has two projects underway in conjunction with further developing our Wasatch UVU campus. The first is establishing an accredited hospitality and tourism degree program. The second is supporting and partnering with UVU and Wasatch High School to develop a trade(s) program for the valley.”
The first project is already well on its way. This fall UVU’s Woodbury School of Business will open enrollment for its Wasatch Resort Management Program (WARM). Students who enroll in the program will complete five consecutive semesters to earn a Bachelor’s degree in hospitality management. Students will attend UVU’s Wasatch Campus in Heber; while working at partner luxury hotels in Heber City and Park City. The program is unique in that students will be part of a structured cohort. According to the program’s description, “Thirty students will be admitted in the first cohort in the Fall of 2021. Cohort courses will be offered back-to-back minimizing the time students are required to be on campus and ensuring students are available to work up to five day or five evening shifts a week.” The educational experience is designed to include: group projects, case studies, guest lectures, workshops, certifications, competitions, mentoring, and more. Enrolled students will work for partner hotels receiving competitive pay and tuition reimbursement. The goal is to have students gain valuable experiences that will help launch their careers and graduate with little to no student debt.
The Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute showed that leisure and hospitality jobs in Wasatch County grew by 64.0% from 2010 to 2019.1 Meeting these needs, by offering youth the opportunity to earn a degree and work close to home, will be a great benefit to our community and our valley’s hospitality venues. Cassandra shared that, “Donations are needed to support this program, particularly with getting the word out. Resort owners, businesses, parents, teachers, school officials, and counselors should be aware of this program and its development. We have amazing resorts, restaurants, and businesses in the Heber and Park City valleys, and we are looking for business owners and managers to partner with UVU who are willing to help create a world-class training facility and provide training.”
The vision for training and job opportunities doesn’t stop with a Bachelor’s in hospitality management. WCF, Jim, and many others in the community are working hard to develop a second program that focuses on trade opportunities in Wasatch County. “We are looking for trade companies like, plumbing, HVAC, construction, electrical, auto-mechanics, cosmetology, culinary arts, etc. that are willing to partner with Wasatch High School and UVU Wasatch Campus to provide trade programs for our youth.” To start the development of this new program WCF will need donations, partnerships, and community support. Wasatch County has amazing youth who have a lot of talent to share. Working together for the “well-being of Wasatch County residents by uniting community resources and programs,” we can create and support local educational programs and opportunities that will help the world recognize our youth for what we know them to be. “The Finest Youth on the Planet!”
For scholarship information visit: wasatched.org/scholarship-program
1 https://gardner.utah.edu/wp-content/uploads/TravTourReport-Sep2020.pdf, p9