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UMFK's Rural U Launches New "Rural U Workforce" Program

January 22, 2019

The University of Maine at Fort Kent’s Rural U Early College and Dual Enrollment Program is launching a new program called Rural U Workforce.  Rural U Workforce is a career pathways program that focuses on a collection of six early college certificates high school students can earn while they are still in high school. 

“Rural U has always encouraged students to take classes that meet general education (gen ed.) requirements as these are classes that every college student takes in English, math, the sciences, the arts, etc.,” states Scott Voisine, UMFK’s dean of community education.  “By taking gen ed. classes, students could either build on those credits they later enrolled at UMFK or they could easily transfer their credits to other institutions.” 

Rural U Workforce takes a different approach by offering students the opportunity to explore specific majors and careers; thus aligning with UMFK’s mission to transform students in professionals in career sectors that are in high need in the local community, the state, or the region. 

“We feel that career pathways are vital as a means to prepare young people for their chosen field of study,” said UMFK President John Short. “Many of the certificate programs also include introductory courses in specific career fields such as one-credit Introduction to Healthcare Careers or and Introduction to Science Careers classes. These courses allow high school students to experience career fields that exist in their area which we hope will lead to more students living and working in Maine.”

All Rural U Workforce Early College Certificates are offered online. Rural U Workforce early college certificates will be offered in Nursing and Healthcare Careers, Forestry Careers, Behavioral Science and Human Services Careers, Business Careers, Criminal Justice and Law Enforcement Careers, and Environmental and Biological Careers. High school students during their junior and senior year in high school, taking an average of 12 specific credits in varying fields, will earn a micro-credential certificate that will be designated on their college transcript.   

“The early college certificate in Forestry is the only one that is not fully available online,” said Voisine. “That unique certificate will be exclusive to students in Maine and Vermont Career and Technical Education schools that have forestry programs. Those students will get six forestry credits by completing forestry-related classes approved for UMFK credit in their schools.”  Voisine added, “The Forestry program at UMFK has developed articulation agreements with a number of Maine and Vermont CTE schools that have made this certificate possible.  It also paves the way for Rural U to reach out to schools outside of the State of Maine for the first time and it provides a direct pathway for interested high school students into the Forestry program at UMFK.”

Rural U Workforce will begin in the fall semester, 2019.  Since its inception in 2011, Rural U has become one of Maine’s largest early college and dual enrollment programs.  Currently serving just over 100 high schools in Maine, Rural U provides high school students the opportunity to earn college credits while still in high school.  Students from Rural U‘s partner high schools can earn those credits by taking online classes or by taking classes taught in their schools by teachers who have the credentials to be approved as adjunct faculty for the university.

To learn more about this program or others at UMFK, call 834-7500 or go to umfk.edu.