Jan 11, 2023 - News

NWACC to offer certification in trails

Illustration of a mortarboard hanging on the corner of a trail sign.

Illustration: Gabriella Turrisi/Axios

If Northwest Arkansas is going to be the "mountain biking capital of the world," it's going to need professionals who not only know all things bicycles, but also how to build and maintain trails, Megan Bolinder, dean of workforce and economic development at Northwest Arkansas Community College, tells Axios.

What's happening: NWACC will develop a certification program for students to learn how to construct, design and maintain trails, along with related skills like geographic information systems (GIS), environmental soil and computed-aided design.

  • An $8 million grant from the Walton Family Charitable Support Foundation announced Monday will pay for equipment and renovation at NWACC for lab and classroom space, as well as personnel costs for three years.
  • NWACC will spend the next year hammering out details, as well as recruiting staff, with plans to launch the first class of 24 students in 2024, Bolinder said.

Details: The program will build upon the school's existing bicycle assembly and repair technician program. Upon completing the bike program, students will have the option to take 12 more hours for a trail certification or 40 additional hours for a more advanced technical certificate.

  • The program could be part of an associate's degree program or potentially transfer to the University of Arkansas to count toward a bachelor's degree, Bolinder said. NWACC does not yet have an agreement with the U of A.

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