Be A Proud Partner, with Archuleta School District

In November and December of 2016, the Pagosa Springs business community was given the opportunity to complete a 2017 Economic Outlook Survey online. This survey was conducted by the Baker Group and is offered to Economic Development groups and Chambers and the survey is conducted nationwide. The following result was extracted from the survey: The 2nd most difficult challenge for businesses in Pagosa Springs was attracting and retaining top talent and finding more available skilled labor. In addition, the businesses felt that the region as a whole did not have a large pool of skilled, educated talent available for hire.

The chamber has been aware since last summer the huge need for a larger and more skilled labor pool. We are working on several projects to try and assist the business community. One project that we are supporting is the Proud Partners Program that the Archuleta School District has developed. The program is the brain-child of school board member, Brooks Lindner which then became a collaborative effort by the school board, staff and community members. Doug Hershey at the High School is heading up the program. While this is a district-wide program, we are focusing on the high school at this time for purposes of training and engaging eligible young adults in our businesses.

Community members can go to the school district website and view the “Want Ads”. Again – the needs are for all the grades and it is NEVER too early to work with our youth. However, if you are looking to attract qualified employees either on a long-term basis or even for summer help, you can help the students by putting forth what YOUR expectations are. Here are some examples of the needs:

“Expert advice and tutoring for students in industrial arts classes”

“Presenters/speakers on economic areas such as entrepreneurship, finance, and business”

“Someone with a programming background to interact with students as they code for an additional perspective”

“Content specialist speakers (e.g., archaeologist, etc.) in areas of geography, civics, and history”

“I would LOVE community business people to come into our classes so the kids could get some real-life examples of job/real life skills”

“German, Latin, French, Mandarin Chinese speakers to work with students in those languages. Days will vary as the World Languages classes are every other day and will vary”.

Perhaps you are retired and looking for something to occupy your time one day a week or even on a one-time basis. You can impart some of your knowledge to the younger crowd. What did it take for you to start a business, what are you looking for in an employee and what do you expect, what do you wish that you would have done in your business career and didn’t! These are all life lessons that we can hopefully impart to the upcoming generation.

The next development part of the Proud Partners Program is for businesses to sign up for interns. That part of the project is slated to take place next year. In the meantime – sign up for the program. Go to the Archuleta School District’s website, Scroll down to under the pictures and there is a “heart” with Volunteer Sign Up. Click on the heart. You can then sign up as an individual volunteer or a business volunteer. Perhaps one of your employees can be the volunteer from your business! There are many opportunities to help guide and mentor our youth. Take this first step to work with our youth and mold and recruit our young adults.

It takes a village, so be a part of the village and help get our young adult population work-force ready. For questions or more information on the project, contact Doug Hershey at

Mary Jo Coulehan

Mary Jo Coulehan is Executive Director of the Pagosa Springs Chamber of Commerce, and also serves on a number of local and state boards.