view of lumber mill with piles of logs and mounds of wood chips

Southwestern awarded grant to support Forestry/Natural Resources program

Anne Matthews News

Coos Bay, OR – Southwestern Oregon Community College is pleased to announce the Judith Ann Mogan Foundation has awarded the college a grant to support its Forestry/Natural Resources program.

The Expanding Workforce Training in Forestry grant allows the college to hire a temporary specialist to support current faculty and determine curriculum paths to enhance forestry/natural resources and fire science programs to effectively meet industry needs.

During this two-year pilot project, the college intends to grow and enhance the programs by exploring workforce opportunities and partnerships, and adapting curriculum. The work will include outreach with industry and educational partners, and analysis of trends.

“Our world is fast-changing, from increasing pressures on our ecosystem to the application of advanced technologies in forest management and protection,” said Dr. Ali Mageehon, vice president of instruction. “The college wants to evolve with these changes to ensure our students access the most up-to-date training that helps them excel in college and compete as professionals.”

Southwestern surveyed larger regional forestry/natural resource employers and learned they want to fill at least 282 new and existing positions by 2029. The college is working hard to provide the highest skilled workers to meet these employers’ critical needs. Southwestern’s hands-on, high-skill training in a small class environment prepares these students with both short-term entry-level job skills and preparation for advanced professional training through partner universities. The college further supports students in these programs by linking them with scholarships and real-life experience through internships.

Within 3-5 years, the project’s goal is to create a stronger workforce, support a broad range of necessary living-wage positions and add to the regional economy. Ultimately, the Mogan Foundation grant is helping the college maintain a flexible Career & Technical Education (CTE) system that is better able to meet workforce needs.