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Wyoming's only job corps center wants more locals

Sign outside Wind River Job Corps Center on Airport Road in Riverton.
Taylar Stagner
Sign outside Wind River Job Corps Center on Airport Road in Riverton.

Wind River Job Corps Center has 127 students from many different places including Montana, Texas and forty percent of those attendees are from Colorado. Officials want to entice more people from Wyoming to attend.

The facility is for low-income young adults from the ages of 16 to 23 looking to get job training in less than two years. If accepted attendance is free and the only location in Wyoming is located just outside Riverton. The center has two dorms, a cafeteria, and medical facilities.

Kristen Benson,the Director of Wind River Job Corp in Riverton,said the Wind River campus partners with businesses all over central Wyoming for hands on job training.

“We have relationships with the City of Lander, the Town of Hudson, [City of] Riverton. We have a student down in Hannah,” she said.

Potential trade programs are welding, heavy construction, mechanics, carpentry, electrical, construction technology, heavy truck driving, and petroleum service technicians.

Wind River Job Corps campus Spring 2022.
Taylar Stagner
Wind River Job Corps campus Spring 2022.

Benson said they can admit around 10 people every week and participants can study at their own pace, which makes it flexible for students who don’t want your typical classroom setting.

“We have kids here that are here for their fourth, fifth and maybe six chance of life. And we take them as they are, and we grow. And that's the best thing about individualizing. It's a self paced program,” she explained. She said there are many ways that their center supports an education journey.

Typically, the Wind River campus can accommodate around 300 students, but because of COVID-19 guidelines admission is capped at around 200 to adequately allow for social distancing and quarantine.

Benson said they usually have had graduations every few weeks because of the self guided nature of the programs, but because of the pandemic graduations have been online. She wants to restart in person graduation this August.

Taylar Dawn Stagner is a central Wyoming rural and tribal reporter for Wyoming Public Radio. She has degrees in American Studies, a discipline that interrogates the history and culture of America. She was a Native American Journalist Association Fellow in 2019, and won an Edward R. Murrow Award for her Modern West podcast episode about drag queens in rural spaces in 2021. Stagner is Arapaho and Shoshone.
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