Workforce Development and Upskilling in Southwestern Colorado: Bridging Career Gaps in Food and Agriculture

College of Agricultural Sciences

Animal Sciences



(Archuleta, Dolores, La Plata, Montezuma)

Primary Topic:

Food and Agriculture

Other Topics:

Economic and Community Development, Youth and Family Development

Lead Mentor:  

Jennifer Martin

Associate Professor & Extension Specialist

Internship Overview:

Careers in agriculture and related sectors are essential components of the food system and significant contributors to local and state economies. In Colorado, agriculture represents 4.6% of the state’s GSP and more than 195,000 jobs. Additionally, Colorado’s agriculture and food sectors are often the backbone of rural communities and economies. A shortage of a skilled agriculture workforce imparts critical strains on local and regional food systems, as well as the economies of particularly susceptible rural areas. Although vitally important to local communities and the food system, workforce needs in the agricultural and food systems sectors are often unmet via traditional post-secondary educational pathways. The 2020 Colorado Workforce Commision Talent Pipeline Report demonstrated that a growing number of Colorado high school students are not seeking traditional programs but are instead seeking opportunities for apprenticeships or certification programs.
The focus of this internship program is to help identify opportunities for the creation of innovative workforce development pathways in Southwestern Colorado.

Goals, Scope and Objectives:

This internship program will investigate the demand for and feasibility of certificate-based or apprenticeship programs in Southwestern Colorado to address the region’s workforce demand in the agrifood system.
The specific goal and objective of the internship program is to:
Identify topics and opportunities for career pathway development through surveys and focus groups with agrifood industry employers and other regional stakeholders (i.e. local government, community colleges, etc.)

With which stakeholder group(s) will the intern work?

Agrifood industry members, workforce development offices, elected officials, community colleges and other education-oriented enterprises

What student learning outcomes do you anticipate and what are the opportunities for professional development?

Upon completion of this project, the intern will have additional ability to work with community stakeholders to identify specific community-based needs in the agrifood workforce. This position will award the individual the opportunity to develop professionally with regards to their communication, problem solving, networking, leadership, and analytical skills. There will be numerous opportunities to connect with other individuals conducting and supporting similar type projects in other parts of the state and the country.
Scroll to Top