Sparking investment!: Consumers Energy Foundation awards $25,000 to new line worker program at Boyne City High School

Posted on February 26th, 2019

BOYNE CITY – A new Career and Technical Education program offered at Boyne City High School has sparked the investment of regional and statewide energy companies, who have contributed tens of thousands of dollars in grants, in-kind donations, critical equipment and resources to help get the class off the ground this school year.

The Energy Fundamentals: Lineworker Emphasis class recently received a large donation to help fund its continued success: $25,000 from the Consumers Energy Foundation.

“Consumers Energy is dedicated to ensuring all Michigan residents are thriving economically with access to world-class educational resources,” said Carolyn Bloodworth, secretary/treasurer of the Consumers Energy Foundation. “We are pleased to support the program with a grant that will allow Boyne City High School to continue to safely prepare Northern Michigan students with the skills and talent to enter the workforce in an industry with growing demand.”

Launched in 2018, the Energy Fundamentals program is the result of a collaboration among Boyne City Public Schools, Charlevoix-Emmet Intermediate School District, Consumers Energy, Great Lakes Energy and DTE Energy. The class is led by two instructors, Derek Maki and James Rincon, who are experienced line workers from Great Lakes Energy, headquartered in Boyne City. Consumers Energy staff also regularly visit and share expertise. During one such recent visit, students joined their instructors and administrators in celebrating the grant award.

“We are so grateful to the Consumers Energy Foundation for sponsoring and helping to support this program,” said Karen Jarema, Boyne City High School Principal. “This program would not exist without the partnerships with these three companies and their many donations for our students. The $25,000 is an amazing gift to support a great and growing program.”

Jarema noted that 10 students are currently enrolled in the class, which is structured as a one-year program. Throughout Char-Em ISD, all CTE classes are open to any student in any ISD district; in fact, the line worker class includes East Jordan and Boyne Falls students. It is open to juniors and seniors and will be offered again in the 2019-20 school year.

“We have exceeded our expectations in the first year due in part to the partnerships that have been cultivated and created,” said Jarema. “The students are not learning about content sitting in a classroom; they are out on-site, climbing poles and wearing the gear. We would not have been able to provide this level of expertise without our partners.”

The $25,000 grant from Consumers Energy will be used to help support the program for the remainder of this year and into next school year, including purchasing equipment.

Jobs in the energy sector, and line workers in particular, are expected to be one of the most in-demand career fields in the years ahead, according to Jim Rummer, Char-Em ISD Career and Technical Education Director. This prompted the CTE team to encourage the program’s creation.

“We are so grateful for the continued partnerships and support from our local and statewide energy providers,” Rummer said. “They know they’ll be relying on the students coming out of our program to fill important positions in their companies. Their continued collaboration and Boyne City’s commitment to making this class happen will ensure that Michigan will have a solid core of workers ready to take on this critical work in the years ahead.”

Jarema was excited to share that two students in the class have been accepted into a two-year line worker training program at Northern Michigan University, and others have applied to training programs offered by utility companies directly.

“What makes this program really special is the commitment of the companies and the knowledge of their employees who come and are willing to share that with the students,” Jarema said. “The students enjoy being able to ask specific questions and learn from those who are on the job every day. It gets them fired up to pursue a career in this important field.”

Students who are interested in enrolling in or learning more about the Energy Fundamentals: Line Worker Emphasis program, or any Career and Technical Education, are encouraged to talk with their counselor or principal.

Students join in the celebration of the $25,000 grant award from Consumers Energy that will help them continue on the path of training to become line workers.

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