Greg Larry, Cumberland Times-News, Md.
Apr. 4—FROSTBURG — Frostburg State University has been awarded a $250,000 grant for educational programs designed to support a regional approach to growing Western Maryland’s outdoor recreation economy.
The grant, from the Maryland Department of Commerce Office of Tourism in conjunction with the federal Economic Development Administration, will fund initiatives in workforce development, training and certification in Allegany and Garrett counties, and will be administered by FSU’s Division of Regional Development and Engagement.
“DRDE is very excited to be leading this regional initiative to collaboratively address the immediate outdoor recreation workforce needs in Mountain Maryland and create a pipeline of students interested in enjoying the outdoors and with the skill sets necessary to adequately support our local businesses,” said Al Delia, FSU’s vice president for regional development.
The projects will be a collaborative effort between FSU, Allegany College of Maryland, Garrett College and local outdoor recreation businesses. Supporting partners include the Maryland Office of Outdoor Recreation and county government offices in Allegany and Garrett counties.
“DRDE is uniquely situated to lead this initiative and we look forward to growing our partnerships with our community colleges and local small businesses in the outdoor recreation economy,” said Jennifer Walsh, regional initiatives coordinator for the Division of Regional Development and Engagement, and executive director of The Greater Cumberland Committee.
Funds will be used to support a bicycle mechanic program at ACM and a marine mechanic program at Garrett College, while FSU will purchase outdoor recreation equipment to support its Center for Advancement of Natural and Outdoor Experiences, led by Natalia Buta. A paid internship program will also be created to place students with local outdoor recreation-related businesses.
“The bicycle repair training through ACM will immerse students into a 4-day experience in bicycle mechanics, covering all the essential maintenance material in greater detail with hands-on training,” Cynthia Bambara, president of Allegany College of Maryland, said. “Students who complete the program will earn an Apprenticeship Bench Tool Kit and will be prepared to further their studies and participate in a paid internship with a local bike shop.”
Garrett College will partner with Deep Creek Lake-area marinas and boat companies to provide an introductory marine mechanic program.
“Upon completion of the proposed 100-hour training, a student will receive a non-credit certificate of completion from Garrett College,” Julie Yoder, the school’s dean of continuing education and workforce development, said.
According to Yoder, once a student has completed two years of experience, they will be eligible to take a certification exam through American Boat and Yacht Council to become a certified technician. Paid internships with local companies will also be available.
Ashli Workman, director of tourism for Allegany County, said Western Maryland has much to offer the sector.
“Allegany and Garrett counties are gateway communities, home to 31% of the state’s public land,” she said. “With over 600 miles of developed trail systems, one national park, three state forests and 12 state parks, our region’s outdoor recreation economy and access to natural resources offers the opportunity for sustainable economic and community development.”
Greg Larry is a reporter at the Cumberland Times-News. To reach him, call 304-639-4951, email firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @GregLarryCTN.