Duke Energy TRAILS at Rockingham Community College
Duke Energy TRAILS at RCC is the first community college program of its kind in the United States. The program will benefit students who want to enter or are currently employed in the fields of outdoor recreation, outdoor education or therapeutic recreation. While trail-building skills are the core focus, many other hands-on skills will be taught and certifications offered. Coursework will be structured within a framework of learning through community service and service-inspired leadership. TRAILS will begin as a Continuing Education program. In its third year, RCC will apply to the State Board of Community Colleges to approve an associate’s degree program. Industry professionals and four-year colleges and universities have already expressed interest and excitement for TRAILS, which will fill an existing skills training gap in outdoor-related industries.
In efforts to promote education, tourism, the environment and economic development throughout the recently branded Dan River State Crossings region, Duke Energy is generously sponsoring TRAILS with a total of $700,000 in funding – $610,000 to fund the early stages of the program and $90,000 for student scholarships. The scholarships are intended to cover tuition differentials for Virginia students.
Rockingham County: A Natural Fit
Few locations on the East Coast offer the convenience of Rockingham County. Situated between mountains and ocean in the heart of the Dan River Basin, there are a wealth of natural resources in the county, including:
- 2 State Parks – Mayo River State Park & Haw River State Park
- 3 Lakes – Lake Reidsville, Belews Lake & Lake Hunt
- 4 Rivers – Mayo River, Dan River, Smith River & Haw River
Community Colleges Exist to Meet Growing Employment Demands
According to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics, one of the five fastest-growing industries in North Carolina over the next ten years will be Arts, Entertainment and Recreation. Supporting this growing industry through TRAILS will greatly improve the economic health of the Dan River State Crossings region.
“It is expected that the increased number of rich outdoor recreation experiences in this area will benefit this community for years to come, as recreational opportunities are a major consideration for industries and businesses in choosing where to locate, for people choosing where to make their homes, and for people considering where to spend their free time during the summer and on weekends. If businesses are here, residents are here, and tourists are here, then their dollars will be spent here – which is what this region desperately needs.”
– Mike Dougherty, Economic Development Director for the City of Eden