First Food & Beverage Manufacturing Student/Industry Symposium a Success!

Students Connect with Employees and Hiring Managers to Learn About Career Opportunities

Fifteen food and beverage manufacturers joined CTE Foundation in a first-ever event designed to introduce high school and college students to the wide variety of career paths available in the industry. From production and bottling line design, engineering, and maintenance, to food chemistry, quality control, and product delivery, over 100 participating students learned how their skills and interests could lead to fulfilling jobs right here in Sonoma County.

Straus Family Creamery, E&J Gallo, Whole Foods, Cowgirl Creamery, Petaluma Poultry, and American Ag Credit sponsored the event. Jackson Family Wines brought a mobile bottling line to demonstrate some of the complex machinery required to bring products to market, and the mechanical skills required to operate them.

Check out our video to hear what students have to say about the event and the opportunities they uncovered for themselves.

North Bay Business Journal and Press Democrat were on site to report on events, read the full article here.

CTE in Action: Sonoma Valley HS Student Takes on Power Mechanics

Student stands next to lawn mower in SVHS Power Mechanics class

Annie has a look of intense concentration on her face. Peering in to the depths of a piece of machinery with the help of a flashlight held by her fellow student, she cranks an unseen part into place, intent on re-assembling the four-stroke combustion engine at her work station. She is the only girl in the class.

Faced with a choice to enroll in either a newspaper class or Power Mechanics, Annie chose to go with the traditionally male-dominated course. “I’m involved in a lot of Agriculture classes already, so I thought I’d take one more,” she said, “I thought I’d get to learn something new, and it would be a fun experience.”

Power Mechanics is one of many electives in Sonoma Valley High School’s Agriculture Academy/Career Pathway program.

The class teaches the basics of engine design, repair, and maintenance, providing students an opportunity to learn technical skills relevant to the agriculture industry in a hands-on environment.

When asked how she feels about being the only girl in class, fifteen year-old Annie smiles. “It’s a little different,” she says, “when I first started the class I was really quiet and didn’t talk to anyone because they were older and felt intimidating.” She laughs, reflecting on those first days. “I have some friends in here now, I got used to them, they’re all really funny and pretty nice, so it’s easier now.”

Annie clearly enjoys the technical knowledge she’s learned in the class. When asked how she is applying her new skills, she smiles broadly and says, “Right now I’m repairing my dad’s lawn mower.” Annie’s family owns a dairy and a vineyard, so in addition to regular lawn maintenance, there is always farm equipment that needs to be repaired and maintained. Annie is happy that she can now help with these chores, and it sounds like her father is too.

“He thinks it’s pretty cool and he’s excited that he can talk to me about some of this stuff,” she says.

Engine maintenance aside, Annie plans on staying in the family business. She is enrolled in Plant and Soil Science and is planning to take a viticulture class in the near future.

Sonoma Clean Power’s New Video Featuring Switch Lab

Thank you, Sonoma Clean Power, for producing this great video featuring the Switch Lab and the terrific impact it is having on our local students! The Switch Lab has proven itself to be a powerful vehicle for teaching students about clean energy solutions for everyday challenges. This hands-on curriculum helps students build both technical and soft skills, such as creativity, critical thinking, communication and collaboration, and applying academic learning in math, science, and technology.

Founder Tony Crabb Interviewed by The Press Democrat

The Press Democrat talked to our founder, Tony Crabb, to learn more about his “light-bulb moment” and the importance of bringing relevancy to education. It started one day while visiting Healdsburg High School’s Construction and Sustainability Academy, there he observed a group of students paying close attention to the math lesson the teacher was giving via instructions on how to design and build a roof.

“I realized that we needed to bring the academic element into the shop environment,” Tony said. “We had to make learning hands-on.”

Read the article in its entirety here.

Educating Students for the Real World Through Work Based Learning

Educating Students for the Real World Through Work Based Learning

NBBJ Publishes Our Thoughts on Work Based Learning

A New Model for Sonoma County

The North Bay Business Journal (NBBJ) this week published our guest article! Co-written by Kathy Goodacre, CTE Foundation Executive Director, and CTE Foundation Board Liaison Stephen Jackson from SCOE, the piece presents basic principles of Sonoma County’s work-based learning initiative and the many benefits it generates for students, local industry and the community.

Success in school over past decades has been measured by standardized test scores and college entry statistics, mostly ignoring the more intangible measure of how prepared a student is to navigate the challenges of work and life upon graduation from high school or college. The ability to regurgitate memorized knowledge is certainly easier to quantify than one’s ability to

apply critical thinking and creativity to solve a real-world challenge. But our attempt to assess educational success by multiple choice test scores has led to a slew of graduates that can recite a solution to a math problem while having no idea how to generate it or to which issues to employ its use. Nor do they have any understanding for why their academic courses matter in the real world.


Hiring and training managers in a variety of industries repeatedly lament the ill-prepared nature of today’s entry-level job candidates. Our newest members of the workforce lack basic skills in communication, project and time management, problem-solving, and self-direction, among others.


Work-based learning is currently being employed in Sonoma County schools as a strategy to better prepare students for college and career and as an instructional tool in the classroom. This approach integrates career exploration, technical and soft skills training, and hands-on industry-related project work with traditional academics, ultimately creating a deeper learning experience that is highly relevant to life after school. It ensures that students are exposed to potential careers at a young age, starting in grade school, and provides a spectrum of opportunities to observe and apply classroom learning via job shadowing, internships, and industry-mentored project work.

Read the article in its entirety here.

October is Careers in Construction Month!

October is Careers in Construction Month!

Industry analysts are projecting that more than 360,000 craft construction professionals will be needed in California by October 2019? That’s an astounding number of skilled trade jobs that need to be filled!

The National Center for Construction Education and Research and the State of California have identified October as Careers in Construction Month in order to build awareness around the variety of high wage, high demand craft careers available in construction.  In addition, the Sonoma County Economic Development Board has identified Construction/Green Services as one of five key

industry clusters that are important to local economic development over the next 10 years. In response to the opportunities presented by the industry and its benefits for our local communities, CTE Foundation is actively promoting Construction Technology programs in Sonoma County High Schools through its competitive grant program.In partnership with North Coast Builders Exchange and the Sonoma County Office of Education, CTE Foundation has launched a “Construction Corps” program this fall to recruit and train High School students interested in construction careers. Construction Corps offers a variety of activities, including workshops, job shadowing, on the job training, and summer Boot Camp, to facilitate career exploration and to develop a work-ready labor force for the industry. Students will be able to apply for the competitive program beginning October 13th and program work will begin in January.

To make this program a success, we need local industry partners to host job shadows for interested students. Each job shadow experience includes three or more hours spent with 2-3 student candidates who have indicated interest in applying for the Construction Corps program. Job shadows will take place in the month of October.

If you are interested in participating as a job shadow host for this inspirational program, please contact Patricia Biagi at or (707)708-7080.

Where the Rubber Meets the Road: Students Experience Hands-on Learning with SWITCH Electric Vehicle

Where the Rubber Meets the Road: Students Experience Hands-on Learning with SWITCH Electric Vehicle

CTE Student Stories

Ron Billberry teaches the Conceptual Physics course at Archbishop Hanna High School, a residential rehabilitation program for at risk youth. Students come to the school from a variety of challenging life situations – from dealing with drug addiction and abuse to fleeing gang violence and a potential life in prison. Instructors at the school are charged with helping motivated youth graduate high school, prepare for college, and develop technical and soft skills that will help them change their lives for the better.

The CTE Foundation chose Hanna High School through a competitive grant-making process to receive one of four SWITCH Lab Kits in 2016. The Kit provides curriculum and components for building a street legal electric vehicle, thus giving students a real world application for their coursework in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM). Students are also exposed to concepts in Electricity, Alternative Fuels, Manufacturing, Science, Automotive Technology, and Clean Energy Generation while working through Common Core requirements.

In alignment with CTE principles, Ron believes that every student wants to be a part of something that offers real life, hands on learning, and building the SWITCH electric vehicle represents a particularly exciting opportunity in this regard. In its inaugural year, students weren’t exactly sure what to expect of the new curriculum. Ron launched the course by taking his eight students on a tour of the SWITCH EV plant where they could see the cars up close and personal. They were thrilled to learn that the SWITCH cars were real street-worthy vehicles, and when the co-founder took each of them for a test drive, their collective energy and excitement for the class was sky high.

The students represented a full range of mechanical experience – some had worked on their own cars and some had never held a wrench. After the initial

excitement wore off, many of them were pessimistic about their ability to actually build the vehicle from the ground up. “None of us knew what we were doing,” said Carlos C., a student in the class.

“When we first got the car, everything was scrambled everywhere, and no one knew what piece was what,” said Arthur L., another student. “We talked it over and decided we needed to first identify the pieces and visualize them working together, and that helped the project come together and made it easier to assemble it.”

The course wasn’t easy, and the first time they turned the key the car wouldn’t start. The students went through a troubleshooting process – an important step in teaching them how to learn from failure – and eventually the car did start. Teamwork is another important skill practiced in the class. “Organization and good communication were really important to having good teamwork,” said Carlos. His classmate Arthur added, “I wasn’t interested in electrical work at first, but there was a kid who was and we worked together in a way where I helped him with the mechanical work and he helped me with the electrical; it was good to work together.”

Ron also asked his students to think about their environmental impacts. “We had homework assignments as we built the car, looking at the differences between an electric car and a normal gasoline car to see which was better for the environment,” said Carlos, “Many argued that an electric vehicle is bad because of all the chemicals it takes to make a battery, but in the end it would not pollute at all. We compared that with having a car that runs on gas and pollutes the environment every time. I think that was really helpful to learn.”

As a testament to the kids’ enthusiasm, Ron had to practically chase the boys out of class at the end of each period, which happened to be right before lunch. For the first time ever, rather than bolting for the door before the bell, students would stay up to 10 minutes into the lunch break – they were so engaged, they didn’t want to stop.

During a celebratory ride with one of his students at the end of the school year, Ron remembers looking over to see his satisfied, happy smile. When he asked what he was smiling about, the student responded, “I can’t believe I built this car.”

Press Democrat Reports on CTE Partnership with Switch Electric Vehicles

Press Democrat Reports on CTE Partnership with Switch Electric Vehicles

The Press Democrat Tours Sebastopol’s SWITCH Electric Vehicles Workshop with Local CTE Students

CTE Foundation’s partnership with Sonoma Clean Power, Switch Electric Vehicles, and the Sonoma County Office of Education, has captured the attention of The Press Democrat. In a competitive grant process, CTE Foundation recently approved the applications of four local schools who will soon offer the Switch Lab Kit as a course for its students.

The course provides materials and curriculum for students to build a street-legal electric vehicle and gain knowledge and skills in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM). Students will be exposed to concepts in Electricity, Alternative Fuels, Manufacturing, Science, Automotive Technology, Clean Energy Generation, while also working through Common Core requirements.

In this article, reporter Jeremy Hay talks to the people who make the program possible.

SWITCH Electric Vehicle Program Grant Applications Now Available

SWITCH Electric Vehicle Program Grant Applications Now Available

Clean Energy Education through STEM Learning

A partnership to meet the program and educational goals for
Sonoma Clean Power and other industry leaders interested in a clean energy future.


The Career Technical Education (CTE) Foundation, Sonoma County Office of Education (SCOE), and Switch Electric Vehicles, together with their Presenting Sponsor Sonoma Clean Power, propose to engage educational institutions in implementing an Electric Vehicle (EV) design and manufacturing program to develop awareness, knowledge and skills among our youth around clean energy.

The Switch Electric Vehicle program is implemented through a competitive grants process administered by the CTE Foundation. School sites are invited to apply for up to 4 available Switch Lab kits and training which can be implemented in a variety of classroom programs (Auto Shop, Science, Maker Lab, Engineering/Design, Summer Camp, etc.). The Switch Lab Kit provides materials and curriculum for students to build an electric vehicle and gain knowledge and skills in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM). Further, the program can be implemented in a course as one unit over six weeks, or expanded to encompass an entire semester of 18 weeks. A mandatory 5-day training is required of all instructors participating in the program.

The CTE Foundation invites Sonoma County public schools (middle school through post secondary) to attend an informational workshop on Thursday, September 3, 2015 at 4:00 p.m. at the Sonoma County Office of Education. RSVP to Kathy Goodacre required.

More information and the Request for Application is available on the Programs and Grants page of our website. Application deadline is September 18th.

Please contact Kathy Goodacre, Executive Director, CTE Foundation for more information at (707)537-1679 or

Sonoma CleanPower

Career Technical Education Foundation Program Video

Students Share Their Experiences with Career Technical Education Courses

The Career Technical Education (CTE) Foundation funds a variety of programs to ensure Sonoma County students are college and career ready. CTE Education provides both job specific and employability skills, such as creativity, collaboration, critical thinking, and communication. The Foundation was created in 2012 with the express purpose to expand and enhance career technical training and work readiness for Sonoma County students, and to align education with the workforce and economic development needs of the County. To date, CTE Foundation has granted over $700,000 to Sonoma County Schools for the development and implementation of CTE programs.

This short video introduces you to some of the students participating in our CTE programs, and provides some insight into how they are benefiting from career technical education.