Mesalands Community College was recently awarded the Integrated Basic Education Skills Training grant (I-BEST) sponsored by the Department of Education. The goal of this grant is to help Adult Basic Education (ABE) students succeed in college-level technical programs and complete post-secondary credentials in fields offering good wages and career development. Mesalands has selected its Farrier Science program as the I-BEST Pilot model for this project.

Upon successful completion of this program, students will receive their high school equivalency and a farrier science occupational certificate.

“There is a great need for adult basic education in our area, and throughout the state. This pilot program will address this issue by preparing students for college-level coursework, while training them for a well paying career in horseshoeing,” said Mildred Lovato, President of Mesalands Community College. “The Educational Services Center at Mesalands has done a great job at preparing our students for college, and we believe the I-BEST grant will only enhance those initiatives.”

The Educational Services Center (ESC) at Mesalands facilitates the ABE program which encompasses programs including, general education development (GED), English as a second language (ESL), U.S. citizenship, and tutoring. This program has been effective in recruiting new students, retaining them through the duration of the program, graduating those students with a high school equivalency, then transitioning those same students to college-level courses.

Last year the ESC had a 51 percent graduation rate of students completing their GED and a rate of 80 percent of GED graduates transitioning to college.

Amber McClure, Director of MCC’s Educational Services Center, said industry-specific people will work on a curriculum with an ABE student.

“The goal at the end of the term is that the student will have completed a certificate in that specific industry, as well as (completing) their GED,” McClure said.

McClure said the ABE instructor's salary will be paid from the I-BEST grant. She also stated that all the students pursuing the farrier science occupational certificate at Mesalands will benefit from the support services and the extra instruction from the ABE instructor, even those students that have already completed their high school equivalency or GED.

Students pursuing the farrier science occupational certificate may also qualify for financial aid after passing the Compass Ability to Benefit Test with specific scores. Other requirements may apply.

This certificate is designed to give students hands-on experience in horseshoeing and blacksmithing, as well as familiarize students with the principles and theories of trimming and balancing the hoof capsule of the horse.

Eddy Mardis, farrier science faculty at Mesalands Community College, said the program will benefit his students.

“Students in the farrier science program are typically hands-on people or kinesthetic learners, so a lot of those students don't have a high school diploma,” Mardis said. “This I-BEST grant may encourage them to get their GED and if they are successful with completing their GED and a semester of college, they are more likely to pursue a college degree.”

Classes for this program began Tuesday. For information, contact the Educational Services Center at Mesalands Community College at (575) 461-4413, ext. 124.