Northwest Arkansas Community College (NWACC) received approval from the Arkansas Legislative Council and Arkansas Higher Education Coordinating Board to offer a new Trail Technician program in fall 2024 and further renovate the college’s previous physical plant into a trail construction lab. Earlier this year, the NWACC Foundation received an $8 million grant from the Walton Family Charitable Support Foundation to support the creation of the trails program and facility renovation.
“NWACC’s Trail Technician program exemplifies the college’s commitment to providing relevant, career-focused education that meets the needs of our community,” said NWACC Trails & Trades Executive Director Dr. Megan Bolinder. “The program will prepare students for rewarding careers and contribute to the ongoing economic development and sustainability of our region’s outdoor spaces.”
The Trail Technician program builds off the college’s Bicycle Assembly and Repair Technician program that launched in 2021 by offering certificates in trail technician, management, construction and community development, and eventually apprenticeships as well. It will equip students with the specialized skills and knowledge required to design, build, and maintain trails while ensuring sustainable and enjoyable outdoor experiences for the community. Its curriculum is being developed in partnership with American Trails, Professional Trail Builders Association, the Trail Skills Project, The DIRTT Project, and IMBA Europe.
Credentials earned through the program’s certification courses can be applied toward an Associate of Applied Science in General Technology or Construction with an emphasis in Trail Building. The associate degrees can be transferred to Arkansas Tech University and applied toward a Bachelor of Science in Organizational Leadership or to John Brown University and their Bachelor of Science in Construction.
The college has begun the renovation of its previous physical plant, which houses a lab and classroom for its Bicycle Technician program, to include a new trail construction lab with space for welding and small engine repair. The lab will offer students access to industry tools, equipment, and virtual reality simulators.
NWACC is partnering with local parks, trail systems, and outdoor organizations to provide trail technician students with real-world experience, valuable networking and internship opportunities and job placement. Graduates will go on to play a vital role in preserving and enhancing the natural beauty of Northwest Arkansas’s trail systems.
Fall 2024 enrollment for the Trails Technician program opens in April. Learn more about the program by visiting nwacc.edu/TrailTech.