Oregon Coast Community College believes that feeding your brain is important – but so is feeding your tummy with great food. That’s why Oregon Coast Community College is holding another Oyster Cloyster fundraiser dinner at the Oregon Coast Aquarium on November 5th. Not only will you experience the grand and wonderful company of friends and new friends over delectable offerings from the sea, the college’s updated cookbook on seafood cuisine will also be available!
So as you savor the wonders of the deep (and perhaps learn a bit about sustainable fisheries), you can do your part to further the economic benefits of a sustainable system of higher education in Lincoln County.
Oregon Coast Community College President Pat O’Connor says that the college will be embarking on a journey with the community to target categories of unfilled jobs and move quickly to provide courses for those who would like to “train up” to fill them. O’Connor said two obvious areas of employment need are law enforcement and any form of medical assistant training. However, there are bound to be others including jobs that surround ocean research.
O’connor said the college will receive a federal pass through grant of just over $1.3 million dollars, over a three year period that are aimed at up-training low skilled workers, ensuring those who enroll finish their skill transformation, and for the college to continuously investigate the kind of skill sets the local economy needs most.
The college’s director for career and technical education programs Jane Hodgkins said the college has already received strong encouragement from local law enforcement and the medical community for building courses that meet the growing needs of those professions.
College director of basic skills Pam Carpenter said she’s pleased that the grant will enable the college to hire a full-time career coach to help students understand their options as they begin their college work and especially when they return later in life to prepare for a change in career. Carpenter said the position is critical for helping students complete their college work and to return to the work force as a family wage earner.
The outside of the new 9,200 square foot OCCC Aquarium Science Building appears to be ready for occupancy; especially with the addition of the two swimming backlit shark silhouettes that have just been installed on the outside of the building.
Bruce Koike, OCCC Aquarium Science Director, has worked for many years in the husbandry, collection and transportation of sharks at public aquariums, said he chose the shark as the symbol for the building because sharks play a prominent role in public aquariums, the industry has learned how to maintain them and the public wants to see them. Plus, the shark is the OCCC mascot!
The sharks are approximately 12 feet in length and are made of bronze and brushed silver aluminum. gLAs Architects and Ramsay Signs designed the outer shark to arc over the inner shark to give greater dimension to the sculpture. The eyes and gill slits were added for eye-catching detail.
The dedication and ribbon cutting for the new building will take place this Saturday, August 20 beginning at 2:00 p.m. Tours, refreshments and entertainment by the Newport Drum Circle will take place following the ribbon cutting at approximately 3:00 p.m. The event is free and open to the public. Everyone is invited and encouraged to help in this major celebration for the college and the community.
While the outside of the building looks complete with lovely landscaping, there is much going on inside. Koike and two dedicated Aquarium Science student volunteers, Jordan Fry and Sid Stetson, have been feverishly moving lab supplies and instrumentation, completing plumbing for aquatic systems, and unpacking and storing equipment for the animal holding room, food preparation room, and other lab areas. Koike said, “Our students and the college will now have a place we can call our own—we’re all energized about this transition, which will move the program to a higher level.”
OCCC is appreciative of the many partners that have helped make the Aquarium Science Program a success, including the Oregon Coast Aquarium, Mark O. Hatfield Marine Science Center, Oregon Sea Grant, Oregon State University, NOAA and the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. The college is also grateful to the generosity of the National Science Foundation for their financial investment of $779,800 in grant funding to develop and implement the nation’s first Aquarium Science Program. Additionally, the NSF has funded AQS student scholarships in the amount of $443,900.
The Aquarium Science Program has attracted individuals from 23 different states including New Hampshire, Maine, Texas, Illinois, Georgia and Florida. These motivated individuals pursue either the two year degree (Associates of Applied Science in Aquarium Science) or the one year Certificate of Completion. The majority of graduates choose to work in an aquarium/zoo setting while others are gainfully employed by research facilities, or state or private fish hatcheries.
To date, 90% are gainfully employed and 75% of those graduates report that they were hired within three months of graduation. Program graduates are working in 19 different states and report a high degree of satisfaction with their experience studying Aquarium Science at OCCC. Call Koike at 541-867-8530 for more information and visit the college website at www.oregoncoastcc.org.