You might be surprised to learn that the oldest and one of the most successful international ski area management programs is located in the little populated Upper Peninsula of Michigan.
Gogebic Community College in Ironwood, tucked along the western border of the UP, has been offering a ski area management program since the early 1970s, according to Gogebic's Jeanne Graham. The college was founded in 1932.
"We've literally had thousands of students go through the program in the last 40 years. It's been very successful," she told OnTheSnow. "Our students come from all over the globe."
Students earn an Associate of Technology Degree while taking ski area management specialty and business courses. Through an internship program students will earn and learn at major ski areas throughout the country; Colorado, California, Utah, Vermont and the Midwest.
The college has its own ski hill, Mt. Zion, which is utilized as a training laboratory. College students ski and ride free at Mt. Zion and receive reduced rates at nearby Indianhead and Big Powderhorn.
"The ski area offers our students a real learning experience while they are completing the academic portion of their program," Graham added. "They actually work with area grade school students who come to learn to ski and snowboard as part of their physical education program."
"The great majority of our students go on to work in the ski area industry, many becoming managers at different levels. Ski areas know our students are well prepared and have proven successful performers in the industry. It's one of the nation's most comprehensive training programs," she stressed. "We were the first college to offer such a program."
The college also offers a three-week Ski Lift Technology Program in May, which offers the opportunity for ski lift maintenance employees to become more proficient at their jobs.
"We encourage our lift employees to avail themselves of the program," said Indianhead's Dave Nyquist. "They really learn a lot, which is beneficial to us all. It's a great training tool."