Grand County Kids Are Ready to Join the Hospitality & Tourism Workforce

A student pets a horse over a fence
Middle Park High School took a tour of C Lazy U Ranch through a JA program

It’s no secret that the scenic mountain landscape makes the Rocky Mountain region a popular destination for tourists, and as the industry grows, a strong workforce must grow as well. Junior Achievement-Rocky Mountain, Inc. (JA) partnered with C Lazy U Ranch this spring so that high school students experience JA Personal Success – Hospitality & Tourism. This immersive program is made possible via the Grand County Commissioners’ Fund, which supports organizations that enhance the quality of life in Grand County.

C Lazy U Ranch is an award-winning scenic guest ranch and draws vacationers to Grand County year-round. Their employees volunteered in a classroom at Middle Park High School in Granby for JA Personal Success – Hospitality & Tourism, spanning topics such as the job application process, interviewing and effective communication, resume-building, and the soft skills employers expect on the job. All of the sessions were tailored toward the hospitality and tourism industry so that students in areas like Grand County are equipped with relevant knowledge of their community’s workforce needs.

Five students at a lake with fishing poles

Monica McFarlin, Middle Park High School teacher says, “Lots of kids are already working in the travel sector, or they will be, or their parents do. Some of them first were introduced to the area as tourists and then their families were able to relocate because they love it here. There’s hotels and resorts galore.”

By learning work-readiness directly from professionals in Grand County, students were profoundly engaged, according to C Lazy U Ranch Assistant General Manager, Paul Klees, who helped coordinate with JA and taught the classes with his colleagues.

“It’s neat to bring somebody in front of the students who’s involved in a business,” Klees says. “I think it makes them a little more serious when we bring real-life stories to the equation.”

The JA Personal Success program concluded with a field trip to C Lazy U Ranch. While onsite, the students received an overview of the ranch’s history, toured around the property, gained perspective from each department head, and then used their extra thirty of minutes of free time to explore the ranch and go fishing.

Like many companies who support JA, C Lazy U Ranch was pleasantly surprised by the reciprocal benefits they received as a result of volunteering with JA, such as brand recognition in the local community and expanding their hiring pool. McFarlin says, “The students talked about wanting to apply next summer. They would all like to work there. It’s a beautiful place and JA gave them a little glimpse.”