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Emerging Practices with Promise

Submitted By: Lale Cilenti, The River Consortium

Consortium members work together to leverage resources for culinary program

The Challenge

Economic opportunities in the Palo Verde region evolve from the Colorado River. Workforce opportunities that are apparent and expanding relate to the river and focus on agriculture and recreation (hospitality). The River Consortium, formerly known as the Palo Verde Consortium, has developed career pathways that address both agriculture (plant and veterinary science) and recreation/hospitality that focus on culinary careers. AEBG operational/instructional resources are adequate (more would be better) for developing curriculum, hiring and training instructors and tracking/assessing outcomes. In the case of the agricultural pathways, AEBG resources were not barriers for moving forward. In the case of culinary pathways, however, resources presented significant barriers for moving forward because AEBG funds could not be used to pay for much-needed program space and equipment that represented both industry standards and industry experiences.

The Solution

The Fort Mohave Indian Tribe (FMIT) is an active partner of The River Consortium. Many of the FMIT students attend Needles Unified School District (NUSD), as well as nearby tribal schools. The FMIT liaison (educational coordinator) also is an elected board member of NUSD. And the FMIT owns and operates the Avi Resort Hotel and Casino, located within the expanded Palo Verde perimeter. It was the ideal situation for exploring a partnership that would create culinary pathways for students at the Palo Verde and Needles school districts, Palo Verde College students and FMIT students. In addition to its “casino” positioning, the Avi is a full-service resort with significant food and beverage outlets that include traditional room service, coffee shop, fine-dining and banquet services.

With help from the FMIT coordinator, the consortium met with the Avi food and beverage director, executive chef and general manager to discuss developing a culinary training program for the Palo Verde region. Palo Verde College and Avi staff would develop the overall curricula and training; Palo Verde College and, to some degree, Needles High School would be responsible for theory and the resort would be responsible for the culinary rotations involved in hands-on training. Avi staff expressed immediate interest in moving forward. The partnership received approval from the FMIT Tribal Council.


Funds have been allocated to develop curricula, hire and train staff and include the culinary program in the data tracking/analytic system. The curriculum has been developed and is awaiting approval from Palo Verde College leadership – management, trustees and senate – prior to submission to the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office for final approval. Once the curriculum is approved, the consortium will work on modifications with the Avi staff and develop a pilot cohort of students that includes high school seniors/graduates, Palo Verde College students and FMIT tribal members. The consortium is planning to roll out the pilot program in spring 2018.

The Data

None at this time.

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