The Wisconsin State Cranberry Growers Association received a Workforce Advancement Training grant in partnership with the Wisconsin Rapids Mid-State Technical College. The money will allow WSCGA to develop continuing education opportunities for cranberry growers and broaden its educational services.
Alex Skawinski is the member education program manager at WSCGA. She says the association pursued the money to help strengthen and retain their current workforce. Cranberry growers and their employees will receive a certificate and credits through the Mid-State Technical College. The courses start in February 2022. Grant funding will be used to offset the tuition fees.
Tom Lochner, the executive director of WSCGA, says the cranberry industry has been facing a labor shortage. He also notes that great jobs are available within the industry for people of all backgrounds and interests. Starting a bog is difficult, so while no new growers are coming into the industry, the 275 bog population in Wisconsin is stable, Lochner adds. The next generation is willing to take over the family business.