Tarkio Tech

(Tarkio) -- For the first time in nearly three decades, classes will be held at the former Tarkio College.

Tarkio Technology Institute will begin offering courses in career and technical fields beginning January 6th. Tarkio Tech in the Thompson Learning Center on the former campus of Tarkio College, which closed in 1992 after more than 100 years as a four-year liberal arts school. The campus sat idle until a group of alumni began the process of revitalizing the campus under a new format. Interim President John Davis says the school received certification this fall.

"We altered our application and we applied to offer certificate and diploma programs in career and technical areas," said Davis. "That process began at the end of December last year and culminated on September 6th when we got approval from the state to operate as a career and technical program."

Davis says Tarkio Tech will provide professionals with the technical skillset to be competitive in three fields.

"Plumbing, wind energy and welding is our focus," said Davis. "We are anxiously promoting and offering admission to students who are more non-traditional students, because most high school students are not done until May. We are looking at individuals who have been out of high school or possibly graduating at mid-term or even people out in the workforce who say, 'this isn't the job I wanted. I need to get additional skills and seek a new employment direction.'"

In addition to the hands-on classes, Davis says Tarkio Tech will offer a small slate of more traditional academic courses for students.

"If their grades are average or better in these technical areas like math and science, we're pretty confident they will be okay," said Davis. "If they are not, we want to find out where they are at. We do have a group of classes called developmental classes that are designed to bring students' skills up to that level that they need to compete in a career and technical program or in a four-year program."

Certificates are available for all three programs and diplomas can be obtained in welding technology.

"There is a basic certificate for one semester and an advanced certificate in plumbing and wind energy," said Davis. "For welding, it is a one-certificate program. You can take some additional academic classes and that would earn you a diploma in addition to that certificate."

Davis says school officials are working with area high schools to offer dual-enrollment courses for current high school students, as well.

"There's a major push right now -- nationally and in all the states -- for high schools to either start back vocational programs or to shore up their vocational programs," said Davis. "Out here in the rural areas, we don't talk a lot about starting them back, because we've never really dropped them for the most part. If you go to the cities, they don't have ag, industrial tech or family consumer science. They have dropped a lot of those classes to focus on academics because of the pressure we were getting with No Child Left Behind."

Applications for the winter semester are currently available through the school's website.

Davis was a recent guest on KMA's Morning Routine Program. You can hear the full interview below.