WVC Hispanic Orchard Employee Education Program designated as I-BEST program
Media Contact: Aaron Parrott, adult basic skills director, 509.682.6795, or Libby Siebens, executive director community relations, 509.682.6436 (Mon. – Thurs.)
Wenatchee Valley College now provides ten I-BEST programs, the most offered in the state. The Hispanic Orchard Employee Education Program (HOEEP) counts as seven I-BEST programs; the other three include the early childhood education initial and short certificates, and a certified nursing assistant certificate.
I-BEST, a nationally recognized model developed in Washington, pairs two instructors in the classroom—one to teach college-level academic or technical content, and the other to teach basic skills in reading, math, writing or the English language—so that students can move through school and into employment faster. As students progress through the program, they learn basic skills in real-world scenarios offered by the job-training part of the curriculum.
Students served by the I-BEST program are typically in need of basic education in areas such as math, reading and writing, speaking and listening.
"I-BEST accelerates students into meaningful career fields and credentials," said Aaron Parrott, WVC Adult Basic Skills director. "It's proven so successful that over 20 states have asked Washington State to help them adopt I-BEST in their collegiate systems. Research shows that successful I-BEST completers earn better wages, get placed into better jobs and achieve higher rates of academic transition."
HOEEP consists of seven 19-credit certificate programs and includes one instructor who teaches agriculture management skills and another who teaches basic skills concepts. HOEEP increases the professional abilities of agriculture employees and their contributions to operations through greater understanding of horticultural science, current production technology, English language and communication skills, math and computer skills, and cultural and social systems.
HOEEP is often sponsored by employers, and lab practicums take place in industry and employer partner facilities, and orchards and vineyards. About 60 to 80 students graduate from the program each year.
Prior to its official designation, HOEEP was based on I-BEST principles. During its 21-year history, the program has received industry, state and national recognition. It was recently featured as a best practices educational session at the Association of Community College Trustees (ACCT) Leadership Congress in Seattle.
"The HOEEP program has been I-BEST since before I-BEST existed," said Parrott.
Both students in HOEEP and their employers have praised the benefits of the program. WVC student Andres Martinez said of HOEEP, "I learned the why of the orchard practices. For example: why we train trees. Now that I know, I can apply what I learned on a daily basis. I also feel more confident to communicate in English and Spanish."
Darin Case of Dovex Fruit said, "This program has been the vehicle for some of our employees to acquire the technical expertise necessary to achieve key positions within our organizations. I have seen employees move from irrigators to crew bosses and to orchard managers."