Workforce and Economic Development Training Program

By partnering with other non-profit, government, and private entities, NCC has developed a novel approach to trades-based workforce development by teaching forest ecology, the wild land-human interface, and an introduction to basic carpentry. The delivery of the training program utilizes an expeditionary learning model.

Seed to Shelter

Seed_to_SheleterThe Seed to Shelter program teaches students about local forest ecology and basic carpentry skills as they build a custom storage shed using beetle and fire-kill timber from the High Park fire area in Northern Colorado. The sheds are then donated to property owners who have been impacted by the fire as well as the devastating floods that hit Northern Colorado in 2013.

The 8-day workshop curriculum includes:

  • Local forest ecology – covering the evolution of our local forests and the impact of fire, insects, and humans
  • Comprehensive instruction in basic carpentry – with an emphasis on high level of hand tool proficiency and craftsmanship, and an introduction to power tools
  • Participants live, learn, and practice at the Colorado State University Mountain Campus, Pingree Park for the duration of each workshop

Seed to Shelter Partners:

Learn more about Seed to Shelter (PDF).

For more information or to register for a program workshop, please contact: Peter Haney at (970) 482-1366 or, or Neil Kaufman at (970) 215-4587 or

The Opportunity

Craftsmanship Camp, Saw

Photo by Kevin Bacher

As our current economy continues to be challenged, certain market segments have seen significant reductions in activities that threaten the long term sustainability of our trades-based industries. The recent housing market decline, the pull-back in the manufacturing sector, and the loss of highly experienced foresters and wild-land firefighters has forced many of our highly skilled trades people into alternative lines of work, unemployment, or retirement. The training of our future trades-based workforce will require significant commitment of resources and innovative approaches to knowledge and skill transfer. Within the natural environment, significant opportunities exist for combining traditional trades education with forestry.

Currently, our forests are entering a period of rapid transition. The mountain pine beetle is quickly deteriorating the majority of Colorado’s lodgepole and ponderosa pine stands. This will result in significant changes in the way we interact and operate in our forests and other wild lands. Additional concerns of wild land fire, the threat of unstable standing deadwood, and other potential hazards will challenge our long-held notions of how we manage and sustain our forest ecosystems. However, embedded within these challenges are some significant opportunities.

National Center for Craftsmanship Mission and Goals

Craftsmanship Camp, Footpath

Photo by Mika Moore

The mission of NCC is to preserve, enhance, and sustain our community craftspeople and to assure that their knowledge, skills and abilities are passed on to the next generation. Nationally, there exists a growing crisis as our skilled trade workers continue to age. The emergence of our information-based service economy has led to unintended consequences that have adversely affected our trades-based industries. A study by the Construction Labor Research Institute (2005) suggests that we currently face a national deficit of 250,000 skilled construction workers, with this number expected to double by the year 2015. Further, research [National Association of Manufacturers] has determined that 85% of respondents claim that a lack of adequately skilled workers has negatively affected their operations and financial bottom line.

NCC seeks to address these and other issues facing our skilled trade workforce and industries. By developing and implementing real-world, hands-on training programs we are engaging community youth and young adults in an effort to recruit and train our future craftspeople. The majority of these youth, through circumstance or choice, will not be going on to college after high school graduation (in Colorado more than 20% will not graduate high school). Careers in the skilled trades are both fulfilling and rewarding for these non-college bound youth. The jobs they will perform cannot be outsourced, provide relatively high wages, and can lead to small business creation and entrepreneurship. What is needed is a formal mechanism to engage, recruit, and train our future craftspeople.