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Excellence in the air for middle schoolers: Northwest Regional Council funds support innovative summer classes

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8.8.16 Excellence in the air.jpg

Learning about aerial firefighting, CMC camp visits Center of Excellence at Rifle airport

By Carrie Click

RIFLE – When was the last time you read through a 151-point mechanical safety checklist for an airplane, and checked the plane’s engine mounts for cracks? Or how about the last time you peeked inside an emergency medical helicopter while talking to the crew about rescue missions?

Twenty middle school students at a Reach Your Peak camp got to do that and more when they spent the day recently at the Colorado Division of Fire Prevention and Control (DFPC) Center of Excellence for Advanced Technology Aerial Firefighting at the Rifle Garfield County Airport.

El Pomar Foundation’s Northwest Regional Council has developed Reach Your Peak Colorado, a summer camp program for middle and high school students. The program partners with Colorado Mountain College and several other higher education institutions to encourage students to develop interests in education and future careers.

Rifle’s June camp focused on careers that require science, technology, engineering and math. Called “Five Careers in Five Days,” in the camps students explored such career paths as welding, computer modeling, woodworking, culinary arts – and aerial firefighting.

“This is the Center of Excellence’s first opportunity to host an outreach event with middle school-aged participants since the office opened in Rifle in July 2015,” said Melissa Lineberger, director of the Center of Excellence.  “The primary objective behind the Center of Excellence hosting this event is to partner with CMC to provide educational outreach to local students regarding fire and aviation careers. We’re always looking for ways to involve ourselves and support this community and we see this as a great opportunity to reach out to an audience we would not normally be in contact with.”

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