UNC’s Carbondale Farmers Market Introduces New Program

United Neighborhood Centers of Northeastern Pennsylvania’s Carbondale Farmers Market is happy to introduce a new program to stretch the food dollars of SNAP/EBT recipients called Fresh Produce Food Bucks, thanks to a Nutrition Incentive Program in partnership with The Food Trust in Philadelphia. The Food Trust Fresh Produce Food Bucks program helps make fresh produce and other healthy foods accessible and affordable. Food Bucks are SNAP incentives earned at the point of purchase by shoppers paying with SNAP.  At Carbondale Farmers Market, for every $4.00 in SNAP benefits spent, the customer will receive $2.00 in Fresh Produce Food Bucks with no limit each week. Individuals that spend $20.00 in SNAP/EBT will receive $10.00 to shop for fresh produce every week. Individuals are encouraged to speak with the Market Manager during market hours to learn more about the program.

SNAP/EBT benefits can be utilized at any vendors who sell SNAP qualified products. Food Bucks can be redeemed at any of our produce vendors including Halstead’s Farm, Sturdy Greens and Mid-Valley Organics; to purchase local, fresh fruits, vegetables, herbs, and mushrooms. Carbondale Farmers Market provides space for our customers to shop with local businesses and farmers every week, year-round.

NEPIRC Launches Dream Team Ambassador Program

The Northeastern Pennsylvania Industrial Resource Center (NEPIRC) recently launched an innovative new program to connect high school students with rising young professionals working for manufacturers and industrial companies throughout NEPIRC’s 11-county coverage area.

The Dream Team Manufacturing Ambassador Program’s 31 ambassadors represent 25 companies. The programintroduces high school students, faculty, administrators and parents to younger manufacturing professionals to gain a unique understanding of the vibrant manufacturing sector and the variety of jobs available in our region.

“We are excited to have this talented group of young professionals be the inaugural ambassadors for our program. We created the Manufacturing Dream Team to provide high school students with a better understanding of the advancements of Northeastern Pennsylvania’s manufacturing sector and to share with them the purposeful, rewarding and high-tech careers that our manufacturers offer,” said Eric Joseph Esoda, President & CEO, NEPIRC. “Manufacturing in our region has evolved over the last decade and these individuals are the perfect people to represent and communicate that evolution.”

As ambassadors, these manufacturing professionals will share their educational and professional experiences during career fairs and other school events. NEPIRC’s school outreach efforts are made possible by the Pennsylvania Manufacturing PA Training-to-Career Grant approved by the Department of Community & Economic Development in 2022.

During today’s orientation session, Dream Team Project Coordinator Jenelle Osborne introduced the participants and discussed the goals and objectives for the program, how to develop their one-minute elevator pitch and what to expect during the in-school career fair experience.

“We have an amazing group of ambassadors. I have no doubt they will do very well representing their companies, NEPIRC and the multitude of career opportunities available with the manufacturers in the region. Their stories will resonate with students and hopefully inspire them to look to a future career in the manufacturing industry,” said Osborne.

Several of the ambassadors are Wyoming Valley natives who have chosen to stay in the Valley and work in manufacturing. Each had a different path to their current careers and looks forward to sharing their story with area students.

Kate Logan, a native of Kingston, works for Noble Biomaterials in Scranton as the quality systems manager. A graduate of Kutztown University with a degree in psychology, Logan is a prime example of someone whose career path took an unexpected, but welcome turn following graduation.

“In high school I wanted to be a guidance counselor like my mother or school psychologist, but as I got closer to graduation, I wasn’t sure I wanted to go down that path. I happened to get a job with a local manufacturing company working in production and quality and I have not left manufacturing since. I’m very proud to work in a previously male-dominated industry,” said Logan, who explained how her psychology degree offers many professional opportunities. “The degree comes in handy, working with people and the variety of personalities you come across in the workplace.”

Zach Mulhern of Exeter explored several career opportunities while attending LCCC, Temple University and Misericordia University, where his plans for a career in nursing changed. His experiences in the school’s business program gave him a strong background to begin working for his father’s company, Ashley Machine and Tool located in West Wyoming.

Mulhern is thriving in his current role as materials manager, where no two days are the same. “I ended up transitioning quickly into a different career path from nursing, and I couldn’t be happier. The biggest thing for high school students is to get out of the societal norms and this notion that everyone needs to have advanced degrees. I ultimately did what made me happy. I like to be on my feet, learn and do something different every day,” he said. “This job intrigues me physically and mentally. There is great money to be made in manufacturing. I realized after six years of college, that if I’m not happy, what am I working for?”

Bear Creek native Julia Miller is a process engineer for Mitsubishi Chemical Group in Scranton. Miller had a strong interest in mechanics at a young age, but encouragement from her father showed her the benefits of pursuing engineering as a career. She graduated from Penn State Harrisburg with a mechanical engineering degree in 2020. Miller looks forward to sharing her story with high school students.

“The more I think about talking with students, I just want to speak authentically. I want to showcase what I’ve done because it came so naturally for me. I didn’t look at myself as an underdog because I’m a woman in engineering. I just looked at it as what would anyone in this position do and how can I do my best,” she said.

Miller wants to encourage students to look at non-traditional ways to get the education they need for their desired career paths. Miller started taking college level courses while in high school, something she encourages students to consider.

“Get into those programs early if you can. You’re in high school and you may not want to do more schooling, but looking back it was the best thing I did,” said Miller. “A lot of companies will help pay for your education. It comes down to your personal drive. The company will see you want to do more, and you want to grow, and they will invest in that as well.”

Sixteen of the ambassadors participated in the orientation program in Luzerne County on March 31. Ambassadors representing companies in the Northern Tier will participate in an orientation program on April 4 in Towanda.

School guidance counselors interested in having a Dream Team Ambassador speak at a career fair or other school event should contact Osborne via email, jenelle@nepirc.com. For more information, visit their website, www.NEPIRC.com.

Marywood University’s New Executive MPA Program

Marywood University is launching an Executive Master of Public Administration (EMPA) Program to fast track graduate degree completion for those working in the public, nonprofit, and private sectors. The program, set to begin in the fall 2023 semester, is currently accepting applicants.

Designed for working professionals with at least five years of post-bachelor’s degree experience, the EMPA program allows students to take graduate courses in public policy and administration without taking time off from their careers.

Consisting of only six courses (18 credits) divided between two semesters, classes are completely online and asynchronous (no specific date/time for meeting), giving students a path to completing a master of public administration degree in just one year. The curriculum features both practical and theoretical skills applications and engagement with practitioners in the classes. Students learn principles of public administration, public policy analysis, human resource management, research methodology, and public budgeting and finance, in addition to completing a capstone project.

“The style of the online classes fits the students’ demanding professional lives, while they are able to deploy their newly learned skills and knowledge in their chosen work,” said Alexander Dawoody, Ph.D., public administration program director. “It is the best of both worlds. The students continue to work as they learn, and, at the end of one year, they earn an MPA degree, helping them to advance in their career aspirations.”

For more information about Marywood University’s master’s program in public administration, including the EMPA program, visit marywood.edu/public-administration-masters-degree or contact Marywood University Admissions by email at GoGrad@marywood.edu or by phone at 570-348-6234.

Keystone Mission Launches New Program

Keystone Mission’s Scranton Innovation Center launches a new vocational program called Pathfinders. The Pathfinders Program was created to produce job-ready and purpose-filled individuals who can get off the streets by securing sustainable pay. Guests are given job-like responsibilities and gain new skills like how to interview, résumé-building, and communication skills.

When guests enter Keystone Mission’s Innovation Center for Homeless & Poverty, they find more than basic relief. The Innovation Center is designed to connect men and women experiencing homelessness with mental/physical health resources, housing assistance, and vocational training.

Individuals suffering from chronic homelessness often lack the vocational skills necessary to secure gainful employment. The Pathfinders Program was created to produce job-ready and purpose-filled individuals who can get off the streets by securing sustainable pay.

“Pathfinders is a groundbreaking volunteer program. Enthusiasm is spreading quickly. [Guests] are taking pride in their work, and that is success any way you look at it,” says Kathy Regan, Scranton Program Manager.

The Pathfinders Program was launched in November 2022, and in the first three months, there has been a positive response among guests with significant growth in accountability, restructuring of routines, and strength in fellowship. Guests are given job-like responsibilities around the Mission and also gain skills such as how to interview, build a résumé, and interact in a professional sense.

“This program allows our guests to make mistakes, to have do-overs that they wouldn’t typically have during the hiring and employment process of traditional employment,” says Lasha Wyman-Klein, Vocational Specialist. “[Pathfinders] focuses on helping guests learn new skills, sharpen existing skills, and give back… it’s something that they can feel proud of and something that feels like it is theirs.”

The Pathfinders Program is one more way Keystone Mission can provide life-transforming opportunities to the homeless, hungry, and hurting in Northeast PA.