The Southwest Minnesota Private Industry Council, in partnership with several Minnesota West Community and Technical College campuses hosted the 2020 Breaking Traditions events in partnership with several secondary school districts across workforce service area 6 including: Dawson-Boyd High School, Marshall Senior High School, Minnesota River Valley Education District’s Area Learning Center, Jackson County Central, Worthington ISD518 Eduction Learning Center, and Worthington ISD High School. Ninety-one (91) students in grades 10-12 engaged throughout the day in hands-on experiences in training programs including Computer Support, Powerline, Small Engines, Electrical and more. They had a very positive reaction to working 1:1 with college students in each of the training programs. For example, in the Electrical program they wired a light bulb fixture. The attendees also had fun learning to braid hair in the Cosmetology program. It was fascinating for the students to tour the newly opened power line technician training facility as well. The students were able to equip themselves with the uniform and equipment necessary to climb the poles.

Breaking Traditions is an annual event sponsored by Minnesota West Community and Technical College, and the Southwest Minnesota Private Industry Council. The event is designed to encourage high school students to consider a variety of career pathways.

Breaking Traditions is in its 26th year, and each year the program expands to give participants more opportunities to explore careers through hands-on activities as well as tours of the various program areas offered at Minnesota West campuses. In addition to the program exploration, the students learn about the college admission process, financial aid, and scholarships. Along with the campus visit the students also have the opportunity to tour a community business. Minnesota West Campuses and Centers visited include the Jackson Campus, Canby Campus and the Luverne Center of Minnesota West CTC. The secondary students visited and participated in hands-on learning about the following programs: Diesel Mechanics, Electrical, Wind Energy, Dental Assisting, Cosmetology, Powerline, Computer Support, Power Sports, Automotive, Surgical Technology, Radilogical Technician, and Medical Assistant.

A participant who attended Breaking Traditions made the comment “This is really a cool getting to experience all these programs at the campus”.


The labor market is much different than it was so many years ago and awareness and exposure for our youth and their parents of future real, local career and training options is critical in today’s economy. Rural Minnesota has incredible career and educational opportunities, unfortunately many students and adults are not aware of them. If we are to help our future workforce develop the skills and leadership which will allow our economy to thrive, we must heighten awareness about the great career pathways, employment and educational opportunities that exist in our region. We believe the Breaking Traditions event is one small step to grow this awareness and provide exposure.