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Buffalo Center For Arts & Technology launches collaborative program with Buffalo Olmsted Parks Conservancy to strengthen local workforce

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Tue, Dec 8th 2020 01:35 pm

New landscape maintenance technician training program now open for 2021 applicants

The Buffalo Center for Arts & Technology (BCAT) announced a new landscape maintenance technician training program in collaboration with the Buffalo Olmsted Parks Conservancy (BOPC) and City of Buffalo. This new program is funded through KeyBank and the First Niagara Foundation and is being promoted with assistance from the city.

A press release said, “The program will increase access and opportunity to tuition-free training in middle skills careers, providing a work-ready pipeline of candidates for the burgeoning landscape field.”

“BCAT is proud to collaborate with the Buffalo Olmsted Parks Conservancy as a nonprofit partner to deliver our new landscape technician maintenance training,” said Gina Burkhardt, CEO, BCAT. “This unique program will not only create job opportunities to strengthen the local workforce, but provide essential work-readiness skills to City of Buffalo residents. We appreciate KeyBank’s continued investment in our community.”

“KeyBank and the First Niagara Foundation are proud to support this program and this unique collaboration between two dynamic important organizations in our community,” said Elizabeth Gurney, director of KeyBank Foundation and the First Niagara Foundation. “This program directly aligns with KeyBank’s commitment to education, workforce and providing opportunities for our youth, and we look forward to the transformational impact this will have on the lives of program participants. In addition, we applaud the efforts of Gina Burkhardt and Stephanie Crockatt who designed this creative collaboration. It is a great example of how we can build on the strengths of existing programs and work together to create opportunities for our young people to gain productive and meaningful employment.”

The program includes 60 hours of educational learning offered in the classrooms at BCAT, followed by in-field training and a four-week paid internship within the City of Buffalo’s historic Olmsted park system, as supported by conservancy staff. The in-house curriculum will include technical coursework on the park system history, horticulture, landscaping techniques, safety precautions, plus equipment and material uses. Additionally, BCAT will provide a minimum of 20 hours of instruction on work-readiness skills to ensure students are equipped to enter the workforce and be better prepared for promotions and/or upskilling opportunities.

“The conservancy hires over 55 staff members annually to care for and maintain Buffalo’s historic Olmsted-designed green spaces,” said Stephanie Crockatt, BOPC executive director. “With park usage now up 50%, the need for skilled labor is high. We are thrilled to be collaborative partners with BCAT, an organization with an impressive record of success in creating workforce training programs. Together, in our maintenance partnership with the city, we can strengthen our local labor force, promote diversity and inclusion, and support the conservancy’s mission of preserving and maintaining our historic park system for current and future generations. We thank all partners and funders for this important opportunity.”

The City of Buffalo, as a collaborating promotional partner, encourages city residents to apply and participate in this inaugural class. Applications for the landscape management technician training program are available and can be found here. For the inaugural class, BCAT will be accepting 15 adults per training cycle, with the first cycle running from January to April in 2021-22, and the second cycle running from January to April in 2022-23. This training timeline will ensure program graduates are work-ready and able to support the park and general landscaping season from April through October each year.

“Developing and strengthening our community’s workforce has been a consistent priority for my administration,” Mayor Byron Brown said. “I thank BCAT and the Olmsted Conservancy for partnering with us on this landscape management training program. We encourage Buffalo residents to apply and look forward to interviewing and hiring future graduates.”

KeyBank and the First Niagara Foundation provided initial funding for this program. The conservancy also received a special grant from the Vogt Family Foundation at the Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo to support the paid internships of all students in the program, including capacity support for some hires. The conservancy, BCAT and city will continue discussions to seek additional funding from a variety of sources to support future cycles of this program and the sustainable hire of program graduates.

For more information about the landscape maintenance technician program, visit https://buffaloartstechcenter.org/apply-now. 

Buffalo Center for Arts and Technology is based on Pittsburgh’s Manchester Bidwell Corp., a nationally recognized arts and training center founded in 1969 by Bill Strickland. BCAT offers tuition-free, health care-focused workforce development programs for adults to gain new career skills, new jobs and economic independence, as well as year-round afterschool arts programs for high school youth in Buffalo to harness their creativity, talent and skills to graduate high school with a postsecondary plan. BCAT’s adult workforce graduates have a 90% rate of employment and 100% of BCAT seniors graduate from high school. Additional information about BCAT can be found at buffaloartstechcenter.org.

The Buffalo Olmsted Parks Conservancy is the first nonprofit organization in the nation, through a unique public-private partnership, to manage and operate an entire urban park system consisting of more than 850 acres of beautifully designed historic parks, parkways and circles. The conservancy is an independent not-for-profit, community organization whose mission is to promote, preserve, restore, enhance and maintain the Frederick Law Olmsted-designed parks and parkways in the Greater Buffalo area for current and future generations. In 2019, the conservancy and city signed a new 12-year partnership agreement with an approved update to its five-year plan for the Olmsted parks in continuing to assist the city in bringing recognition to its collective renaissance. Designed by America’s first landscape architect, Frederick Law Olmsted, more than 150 years ago, these iconic connective spaces represent the nation’s first urban park system.

The Buffalo Olmsted Park System includes: Six parks: Cazenovia, Delaware, Front, Martin Luther King Jr., Riverside and South parks; seven parkways: Bidwell, Chapin, Lincoln, McKinley, Porter, Red Jacket and Richmond; eight landscaped traffic circles: Agassiz, Colonial, Ferry, Gates, McClellan, McKinley, Soldiers and Symphony; and smaller Olmsted spaces: Days, Heacock and Prospect parks. Visit www.bfloparks.org to learn more.

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