Ready to Work: The Impact of Career-Focused Education

The Impact of Career-Focused Education

by Nebraska Loves Public Schools (funded by the Sherwood Foundation)


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There is perhaps no easier way to connect education with economic development than by looking at a state’s investment in career and technical education. With millions of jobs for skilled laborers opening up in the next decade, public schools and businesses alike have a vested interest in providing students with opportunities for real world learning. Today’s career and technical education programs have evolved (and are often unrecognizable) from when Dad took shop class in high school. Nebraska public schools are offering a wide range of comprehensive, career-focused curriculum that runs the gamut from welding to food science to genetic engineering to computer programming.

This Nebraska Loves Public Schools program looks at the various ways public schools are fueling student interest in a wide range of careers. Through a diverse range of programs — from multifaceted agriculture education to holding class in an actual zoo — Nebraska public schools are positively impacting drop-out rates while preparing kids for a successful future. See how kids, businesses, and the community as a whole benefit when kids are ready to work.

“Most people flash back to what they knew as vocational education when they were in high school. And if they walked into a classroom today, and they saw robotics, and they saw DNA extraction, and they saw the health science curriculum – all the nature of what we do today in career education, I think they’d be amazed.”
          — Rich Katt, NDE Nebraska Career Education Director



FFA: More Than Plows, Cows, & Sows
Given the importance of agriculture to Nebraska,
it's no surprise that agriculture education features prominently in school curriculum. Learn how Eustis-Farnam Public School is preparing students for careers in agriculture and beyond.
ESU 4 - Energy Academy

See how a group of dedicated educators
and business partners joined together
to create a unique education opportunity for students.

On the Job in a Most Unique Way

Papillion-La Vista Public Schools believe in giving their students access to 21st century skills. In the Academy programs, high schoolers learn applied science and get a behind-the-scenes look at a variety of career options they may not have considered.
The Education Business

Watch as a thriving graphics and printing business, serving clients nationwide, is run by students, led by a couple of extraordinary teachers, and supported by the small community of Arnold, Nebraska.

Skills USA: Working to Ensure
America Has a Skilled Workforce

A shortage of skilled workers? Not here!
See how Skills USA is helping shape the future
of Nebraska, one student at a time.
Cody-Kilgore’s Lessons in Entrepreneurship
Cody is A Town Too Tough to Die.
Watch how this rural community in Nebraska's Sandhills rallied around a school project to open
the town's first grocery store in over a decade.




Roger Campbell
Papillion-LaVista South High School Teacher & Skills USA Adviser
Holly Carr
Career Academies Coordinator
Dr. Robin Dexter
Grand Island Public Schools Associate Superintendent
Todd Enck
Todd C. Enck Builders;
Skills USA Nebraska Contest Coordinator & Judge
Meshelle Ferguson
Nebraska Public Power District Site HR Manager
Tony Glenn
NDE Skilled & Technical Sciences Director
Missy Jabens
Papillion-LaVista Public Schools Career Education Asst. Administrator
George Johnson
George Paul Vinegar Owner
Rich Katt
NDE Nebraska Career Education Director
Jessica McCormick
NMC, Inc. Workforce Strategy Vice-President
Clay Mohr
Arnold Public Schools Teacher & School House Graphics Adviser
Julie Mohr
Arnold Public Schools Teacher & School House Graphics Adviser
Dr. Cheryl Morris
Omaha Henry Doorly Zoo Comparative Nutrition Director
Dr. Elizabeth Mulkerrin
Omaha Henry Doorly Zoo  Education Director
Terri Nollette 
Cody-Kilgore Schools Business Teacher & Entrepreneur
Kyle Rosfeld 
Sandhills Boot Company Owner
Chad Schimmels
Eustis-Farnam Public Schools Teacher & FFA Adviser
Greg Stahr
NDE Skills USA Nebraska Director
Cheryl Weinman 
Arnold Public Schools Parent
Suzanne Whisler
Nebraska ESU 4 Professional Development Coordinator




NET Learning Services
Nebraska Children and Families Foundation
Nebraska Department of Education
Nebraska Loves Public Schools
America’s Promise Alliance Grad Nation
Avenue Scholars Foundation
Buffett Early Childhood Fund
Center for Children, Families, and the Law
Coalition for Community Schools
Lincoln Community Foundation
Nebraska Community Learning Center Network
Nebraska Trucking Association

Project Liftoff
Urban League of Nebraska
United Way of Lincoln and Lancaster County

United Way Readers, Tutors and Mentors


© 2013

American Graduate is funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting in partnership with America's Promise Alliance, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.