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Industry Speaks, "This Is Real Life"

Updated: Sep 4, 2023

Workforce Alliance visits Wilson Creek schools for a student workshop day

Wilson Creek, Wash.– In Grant County, about 30 miles north of Moses Lake, in the town of Wilson Creek, Jackie Floetke, the local Wilson Creek School District Career and Technical Education Director, has been diligently working to make certain the students in her program have the skills, knowledge and abilities to find themselves on paths to family sustaining careers. In December, Jackie attended a ‘meet & greet’ event to introduce regional CTE directors to the Workforce Alliance sector partnership in Moses Lake. At the event, Jackie was introduced to Tami McBride, NCESD Career Connected Learning Specialist and Stela Heuschkel, Human Resources Director Chem-icon Materials Corp, and she learned about the groups commitment to serving all students in the region with career connected learning experiences.

Group of woman at event

In January, Jackie decided to put this commitment to a test, inviting Stela and the other businesses in the Workforce Alliance to come out to Wilson Creek for a student workshop day on February 11th. Wilson Creek is a small rural high school (71 students) in a community with several small businesses. Prior to these networked Career Connected Learning efforts, the manufacturers in Moses Lake may not have been approached to engage with students in Wilson Creek, and Jackie wouldn’t have known where to start to recruit these businesses to her event, but things are changing in Grant county. Tami and Stela responded to this request, and not 1 but 4 Human Resource Directors from Grant County manufacturers traveled out to Wilson Creek to meet with students on February 11th.

Wilson Creek School District students met with several local buseinsses during event.

Erin Peterson from ​Moses Lake Industries​, Stela Heuschkel ​Chemi-con​,Annette Herup ​SGL​,and Rhonda Duff​Joyson Safety Systems​all took part in the day. The business leadership students (FBLA) moderated a forum for employers to share highlights about their respective companies, the types of career opportunities and training they look for, and the soft-skills that they look for in new hires. These employers are working together alongside educators in rural communities in North Central WA. They are investing time and resources to inspire youth, and seed a vision for the future. The Workforce Alliance, really means it when they say, “It’s all about the kids.”

Quotes from participants about the event:

“Yesterday was a blast! I enjoyed every minute.” – Stela Heuschkel, Human Resources Director, Chemicon

“We are all in this with good hearts and good intent. I always say we all have full-time jobs, but we spend our time on this important subject because it is essential that we as business leaders help parents and teachers to get through to the kids –we are all saying the same things—as Stela and Rhonda so aptly put it ‘this is real life, guys!” – Annette Herup, Human Resources Director, SGL Composites, LLC.

“Yesterday, was very uplifting for me personally and professionally.” – Rhonda Duff, Human Resources Department Manager, Joyson Safety Systems

“It was a lot of fun and such a great experience!” – Erin Peterson, Human Resources Manager, Moses Lake Industries


About the Workforce Alliance

The Workforce Alliance was created to build relationships with educators, students and parents through real-life experiences to communicate career opportunities and required skills that provide a meaningful life and family-living wage in the Columbia Basin. Career Connected Learning is a combination of awareness, exploration, preparation, and work experiences developed through strong public and private partnerships. ​For more visit:

About Career Connect Washington

Career Connect Washington was created by Governor Jay Inslee, with support and funding provided by the Washington State Legislature, to provide our state’s young people with expanded opportunities to gain real-world experience through a fully integrated career connected learning system. Business, labor, educators, government agencies, non-profit organizations, and many others have come together to create a strategy for making these opportunities available in every part of our state to every student as part of their academic journey.

Career Connect Washington will provide students with early exploration and awareness in elementary and middle school, career preparation in high school, and “Career Launch” programs which can begin as early as 11th grade and bring paid, meaningful work-based learning together with an aligned classroom curriculum to create a competitive candidate for a real job and a post-high school credential and/or a year’s worth of college credit. Career Connect Washington builds from the good efforts already underway and facilitates scaling them and integrating them into a system of options with great appeal to students and their parents as they explore their futures. For more information, visit

About the Apple STEM Network

The Apple STEM Network is a three-dimensional alliance of K-12, Higher Ed and community partners in North Central Washington. We represent a diverse region with tremendous potential for STEM industry in agriculture, energy and innovation. With our collective effort we intend to: provide a constructive support system for educators who aim to meet the rising challenge for all students to develop 21st century skills and STEM literacy, to integrate community mentorship and promote authentic project-based learning and field experiences for all levels of education, and engage students in exploring the world of opportunities on the horizon through STEM. For more information visit

About the North Central Educational Service District

The North Central Educational Service District is a resource to the 29 districts within the four-county service area, providing professional and timely tools to meet the needs of individual schools and districts, and a reliable point of education-related information for the communities served. The NCESD is a respected resource to other ESDs throughout Washington State.


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