Yuut Elitnaurviat offers programs for student success

by K.J. Lincoln

Desiree Teeluk took a little time on Friday afternoon to talk about a house that she is helping to build at Yuut Elitnaurviat through their construction academy. The house has space for a dining and living area, a bathroom with tub, and a single bedroom.

It is brand new, freshly painted and almost ready to be shipped out to a village. It is going to the Lower Kuskowkim School District and will be one of the teachers houses.

Teeluk is from Kotlik where she grew up dreaming of one day becoming a carpenter. She’s done some small projects such as birdhouses and dog houses, and now she is helping to build a true bona fide house from start to finish.

“I’ve always liked to build stuff,” she said. “It’s been my dream.”

It is a win-win-win situation for all those involved. The students get hands-on training and certification, the school gets housing for their teachers, and Yuut Elitnaurviat provides the instruction to fulfil their mission to prepare local people with local high wage jobs.

On the Yuut Campus at the Technical Education Support Services building you will find the Adult Basic Education Center which offers GED preparation and instruction in reading, writing and math. The Bethel Regional ABE Program operates as a partnership between Yuut Elitnaurviat and the State of Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development.

The Bethel Regional ABE Center is open all year, and students may enroll at any time during the year. There are also services for students in the villages who are looking to earn their GED.

Last Thursday a student was busy working on homework at the center in one of the study booths. Recently, they have had 13 GED graduates.

The ABE program also offers basic academic skill building in math, reading and writing for the purpose of earning a GED, getting or keeping a job, or entering college or training.

Assessment testing is also done weekly.

“We administer the Test of Adult Basic Education (TABE). Tutoring is provided, if needed. Assessment tests are required for GED® students and often are needed for vocational training and employment,” says the Center. “All Services are free of charge. Please feel free to contact us.”

At the Yuut Campus you will also find the Kuskokwim Learning Academy (KLA) for high school students in 9-12 grades. Students who are from outside of Bethel live at the dorms, which are provided by Yuut Elitnaurviat. KLA moved to Yuut when their school at the old Kilbuck Elementary burned down back in November 2015.

KLA seniors will be celebrating their success at graduation this Wednesday.

The Dental Health Aide Therapist (DHAT) Training program is also offered at Yuut Elitnaurviat. Alaska Dental Health Aide Therapists (DHATs) are trained in Alaska according to a proven worldwide model: a two-year, post-high school competency-based primary care curriculum, incorporating innovative preventive and clinical strategies. Yuut Elitnaurviat houses this training, which is put on by the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium (ANTHC) during the student’s second year.

Yuut Elitnaurviat is anticipating a 13 million dollar expansion, which is planned to begin next year, said Executive Director Mike Hoffman.

“We are astonished at how much it’s grown,” he said. You can see the pilings that are already in the ground, ready to build. The dental program will benefit from the expansion along with another dorm.

Currently, Yuut Elitnaurviat has a 180 person capacity.

“80% of our young people aren’t going to college,” said Hoffman. “We need to train them for high paying jobs.”

Near the basketball court built by the construction academy students was a grader built by the welding class. The grader, built for rural application, is made to grade dirt road projects in the village. The welding academy was made possible through a partnership with the Association of Village Council Presidents.

To help supplemental the power needs for all the programs at Yuut are the campus’ solar arrays and wind turbines. The renewable energy sources provide $20-25,000 in energy savings each year, said Director of Programs Jeremy Osborne.

On May 7th, 2019, the Aviation Maintenance Technician training began.

“We’re happy to announce the first cohort of AMT students to start off this exciting new program. This has been a long time coming, so join us in congratulating the 2019-2020 cohort!” said Hoffman.

Enrolled in the AMT session are Travis Andrew of Napaskiak, Crandall Fisher of Hooper Bay, Ryan George of Akiachak, Steven Jacob and Napaskiak, Jonathan Liberty of Bethel, Duane Samuelson of Bethel, Earl Samuelson, Jr. of Napaskiak, and Darren Smith of Scammon Bay.

The students all passed reading comprehension and mathematics requirements to take the course.

Classes are held at Yuut Elitnaurviat’s aircraft hangar at the Bethel airport where they work hands-on with airplanes with their instructor Ken Wallace.

“We have everything we need here to teach young people to become an aircraft mechanic,” said Hoffman. “The aviation training school will benefit not only people in this area but also other areas.”

Hoffman credits the late Senator Ted Stevens, Senator Lisa Murkowksi who stopped by to visit a couple weeks ago on a Saturday, our local legislative delegation – Senator Lyman Hoffman and Representative Tiffany Zulkosky, and other representatives in the past who have championed the idea of having a training center right in Bethel, locally, in the home of the people of the Yukon Kuskokwim delta region.

“It is awesome that Yuut Elitnaurviat is here in the Kuskokwim region,” Hoffman said last Thursday, which was also Teacher Appreciation Day. There was cake for everyone to celebrate.

Yuut Elitnaurviat Partners include:

Association of Village Council Presidents (AVCP) , AVCP Regional Housing Authority (AVCP RHA), Bethel Community Services Foundation (BCSF), Calista Corporation, City of Bethel, Lower Kuskokwim School District (LKSD), Orutsararmiut Native Council (ONC), University of Alaska Fairbanks Kuskokwim Campus (UAF, KuC), and the Yukon-Kuskokwim Heath Corporation (YKHC).