It was a proud moment for the Stettler community when Campus Alberta Central opened its doors last week, providing the opportunity for postsecondary education, and more, in Stettler.
The new facility, located in the Stettler Oil and Gas building in northeast Stettler, was officially opened last Wednesday with an open house and ribbon-cutting ceremony involving officials from the campus and Town of Stettler.
“When you choose rural, you do not choose less — Stettler now has outstanding facilities and program potential,” said Dr. Tom Thompson, president of Olds College.
“The quality of postsecondary education will be of the same high standard as at any college.”
Dr. Thompson praised the Stettler mayor and council for “having the foresight and progressiveness to support the campus — advanced education is an economic driver for the community.”
He also gave credit to former education minister Doug Horner for setting the policy and to advanced technology for “creating vibrant learning communities in rural Alberta.”
“The town believes in the importance of allowing youth to be educated at home,” said Mayor Richards, commenting on the town’s endorsement of the school.
Big Country Education Consortium, the forerunner, was transitioned into Campus Alberta Central by a unique joint venture of two colleges, Olds College and Red Deer College, to offer postsecondary learning to a large geographical area of east-central Alberta, based in Stettler.
Marg Leathem from the Department of Advanced Education in Edmonton and Jean Madill, executive-director for Campus Alberta Central, were on hand for the official opening, though Red Deer College president Joel Ward was unable to attend.
Bonnie Ireland, program manager for Stettler Adult Learning, partners of the campus, was excited to announce three programs being offered in the fall — licensed practical nurse (LPN), health-care aid and office administration.
“There is a huge need for LPNs, the jobs are in high demand,” Ireland said. “These courses have a June 30 deadline to enrol.”
In addition, a pilot project will offer a general-education diploma and foundational-level math through distance learning.
The enhanced learning opportunity for rural Alberta was achieved by the co-operation and collaboration of Stettler Adult Learning, Town of Stettler, Stettler FCSS, Clearview School Division and industry partners, such as Stettler Oil and Gas.
The spacious campus facility has a computer lab, video conference room, medical training centre, exam room and three additional classrooms to serve the community. These will be also available to rent, depending on availability.
Thompson said the campus location has it “embedded into industry, creating an investment-rich environment.”
Several local industrial businesses have responded positively on how the campus will benefit them by providing the opportunity to locally educate employees with computer training, management and leadership courses, first aid training and other programs related to the trades.
Prior to the open house, focus groups met at the campus for a community consultation to outline their needs, offer suggestions and find ways to partner to train locally.
With costs of living, transportation and tuitions rising, it’s a bonus advanced education can be offered at home for the greater Stettler community.
Staff at Campus Alberta Central said many people in the community don’t realize the extent of what the campus offers. Most education needs can be matched up with a program, but if they can’t be handled at the campus, they will be addressed by referral — “education always comes first.”