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Students Complete Third Cornell Food Processing Bootcamp Training

Thu, Nov 9th 2023 03:00 pm
Students in the Fall 2023 Cornell in High School Program
Students in the Fall 2023 Cornell in High School Program

BATAVIA – Cornell University College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS) hosted its third annual food processing bootcamp at Genesee Community College, training graduating high school students from 11 districts in Genesee, Livingston, and Wyoming Counties with experiences in high-wage in-demand careers.

The free, three-day “Cornell in High School” program teaches students about practices and opportunities in the food processing industry, Genesee County’s largest employment sector.

“Our subject matter experts from CALS provide local high school students with an introductory program that teaches the basics of the food processing industry, educates them on the many career opportunities within the industry, and bring in local employees and HR professionals from local organizations within the industry from the GLOW region,” said Dairy Foods Extension Program Director Kimberly Bukowski. “The GLOW region offers hundreds of immediate job opportunities within the food processing sector; our job is to ensure local youth are aware of these opportunities while preparing them with the proper skills.”

Skills Learned at Bootcamp Create Workforce Readiness

At the conclusion of the program, participants received a “Cornell Food Processing Certificate” which will give them an advantage in securing careers in food processing. In addition to Cornell CALS, the program featured industry experts from Upstate Niagara Cooperative, Yancey’s Fancy, O-AT-KA Milk Products, Nortera and HP Hood.

“We have seen a significant increase in the skill set of next generation of workforce candidates and this paradigm shift in prospective employees can be attributed to the committed workforce development programs that have flourished in Genesee County for the past several years,” said Eric Brooks, Director of Specialty and Milk Balancing, Upstate Niagara Cooperative. “This is due largely to the great work of our HR and workforce development stakeholders across the region.”

Significant investment from the food and beverage, advanced manufacturing, and skilled trade sectors in Genesee County equates to the readiness of the local workforce for these industries.  Programs such as GLOW With Your Hands: Manufacturing, GV BOCES Mechatronics, Finger Lakes Youth Apprenticeship Program, Genesee Valley Pre-Apprenticeship and the Cornell Food Processing Bootcamp have contributed to the preparedness of the local workforce.

“Our approach to youth workforce development has set us apart from other regions and programs across the country. As sectors such as advanced manufacturing and food processing are key components of our regional economy, we are able to work with employers, students, and other stakeholders to tailor programs based on the constant-changing needs and skills of the workforce,” said Genesee County Economic Development Center Vice President of Business and Workforce Development Chris Suozzi.

In partnership with New York State, the Office of Strategic Workforce Development awarded Cornell CALS a $400,000 grant to provide dairy industry training through a “dairy processing boot camp” and an online dairy science and sanitation course throughout New York State.