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Lethbridge College expands rural reach

Just in time for the start of a new semester, Lethbridge College has opened its fifth rural campus.

Vulcan, about 75 kilometres north of Lethbridge, will be offering college courses using video conferencing as well as direct instruction. The town joins the ranks of rural college campuses in Fort Macleod, Claresholm, Pincher Creek and Crowsnest Pass.

Courses in Vulcan this year will include unit clerk, wind turbine technician, pre-employment welding and pre-employment electrician training.

Leslie Warren, economic development officer for Vulcan’s business development society, said the rural campus is a good fit for the Vulcan Innovation Project.

“Part of that project was to try to bring post secondary education to the community using technology,” said Warren Aug. 28.

College credit courses have been offered in the past at Vulcan with funding from Rural Alberta Development. The new agreement with Lethbridge College will allow a wider selection of courses and more opportunities for students to access funding.

“It’s not only bringing education here but hopefully knowledge can be provided from here to other centres,” Warren said.

Rather than invest in infrastructure, the town will use existing space for instruction at the high school and other venues. Videoconferencing will be used in some courses and local instructors and those from Lethbridge will also be involved.

For the wind turbine course, students will use four electrical labs at the high school and a partial turbine that was moved to Vulcan by the college for instructional use.

Warren said she hopes the greater availability of college courses will also help attract businesses to the community because local training will be available for employees.

As an example, a large wind farm is being developed in the southern part of Vulcan County.

The agreement for the rural campus is a result of co-operation between the college, Palliser School Division, Vulcan County Adult Learning Council and Vulcan Business Development.

In a news release, Lethbridge College rural education co-ordinator Leah Wack applauded the co-op-eration involved.

“The agreement is really just recognizing the work we’ve been doing with the community for a number of years already,” she said. “It takes a lot of goodwill, patience, and co-ordination to establish this type of relationship and our partners in Vulcan have made all the difference.”

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