Monthly Archives: September 2016


WHO:        Columbia College Foundation

WHAT:      “A Changing Landscape: Tree Mortality in the Sierra Nevada”

A free community event featuring leading experts in forest ecology

WHERE:     Sonora High School Auditorium

WHEN:      Thursday evening October 6. Doors open at 6:30 pm; program 7 p.m. – 9 p.m.

A leading national researcher and local experts on forest transition will be the featured speakers at a free community event presented by the Columbia College Foundation Thursday evening, October 6.

“A Changing Landscape: Tree Mortality in the Sierra Nevada,” a two-hour evening program at the Sonora High School Auditorium, will be moderated by Columbia College Natural Resources Professor Tom Hofstra, and features a panel of leading experts who will help make sense of the tree mortality and many landscape changes so visibly under way in the Sierra Nevada from drought, fire and beetle infestation.

The October 6 program continues a community lecture series planned by the Columbia College Foundation in cooperation with college faculty and regional partners. The program is free. Doors will open at 6:30 p.m. and the evening’s program will run from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Refreshments will be available after the event.

Leading the evening will forest researcher Eric Knapp, a nationally known forest ecologist with the US Forest Service. Knapp specializes in understanding how disturbances historically have altered forest systems, from food chains and wildlife to forest resilience. Knapp, Lead Research Ecologist for the Northern California Region of USFS Pacific Southwest Research Station, regularly publishes his research on forest health and forest management.

Hofstra and Knapp will be joined by regional panelists with a range of expertise, including U.S. Forest Service Entomologist Beverly Bulaon, biologist and protected species specialist Terry Strange of Strange Resource Management, and high country landowner and Columbia College forestry instructor Lara McNicol.

Speakers will focus on the big picture of tree mortality throughout the Sierra Nevada region and the long-term impacts of drought, fire and beetle infestation.

“No issue is more critical – or more visible — right now,” said Stephanie Suess , Columbia College Foundation Board Member who is organizing the event. “This is a chance to learn from experts on what we can expect in the years and decades ahead, and what choices we can make as a community.  The Foundation is pleased to bring these key players together for an educational evening.”

For more information, visit or call (209) 588-5065.

The Columbia College Foundation is a community nonprofit established in 1972 to promote quality higher education that enriches the academic, economic, and cultural life of our community. Our mission is to promote student success by providing community resources that support and expand educational opportunities for Columbia College’s students. Learn more at or call (209) 588-5055.

Columbia College Transfer Day and College Night offer all students access to college information

(Sonora, CA) – High school and college students will have a chance to speak in-person to representatives from four-year colleges and universities at Columbia College’s Transfer Day/ College Night events scheduled for Thursday, September 22, 2016. Both events are free and open to all community members, high school students, and their families.  Free parking is offered on campus all day for these events.

The Transfer Day portion of the event will be held from 9:00 AM to 2:00 PM, outside the Tamarack (Library) building on the main Columbia College campus, located at 11600 Columbia College Drive, Sonora. Transfer Day is targeted at current Columbia College students seeking information on transferring to a four-year college.

The College Night portion of the event will be held from 5:00 PM- 8:00 PM inside the Oak Pavilion on the main Columbia College campus. College Night is designed to assist high school students and their families, and community members, in making plans to pursue a higher education.

Representatives from University of California, California State Universities, Columbia College, as well as private and out-of-state four-year colleges and universities will be on hand to answer questions and provide information about their institution, including academic programs, admission procedures, transfers, financial aid, student life and more.  Students will be able to go from table to table, collect literature, and speak directly with representatives from each school.  Most representatives are from admissions offices, so students can hear firsthand what they need to do to meet admission requirements and obtain information on programs, tuition and scholarships.

For more information contact: Melissa Raby, Vice President of Student Services – 209-588-5132.

Follow Columbia College on Facebook: or visit

A list of college representatives attending will be available Tuesday, September 20, 2016.


Columbia College awarded $1.18 million federal grant to improve college readiness for adults

 Columbia College has been awarded a five-year federal education grant totaling $1.18 million to launch an Educational Opportunity Center (EOC) for the Mother Lode region. The college will partner with more than a dozen local agencies in the central Mother Lode to encourage and assist adults who are interested in college and career training to improve their economic opportunities.

The grant, awarded by the U.S. Department of Education, will support staffing and outreach to connect with and serve an estimated 1,000 individuals per year, providing them with information on educational and career training options, financial literacy, and assistance with college applications and financial aid.

Columbia College was one of 143 colleges and organizations across the nation selected for the five-year EOC program, and one of just four in California.

“We are very proud that, once again, Columbia College has successfully competed with much larger institutions across the nation for resources to support our community needs—we are small but mighty”, says College President Angela Fairchilds. “This funding allows us to extend our reach to underserved communities in our region with a goal of helping more adults to access education and training beyond high school.”

Grant funding will support a part-time director, two transition specialists and an administrative assistant who will work in coordination with a range of public and nonprofit partners in five counties – Amador, Calaveras, Tuolumne, Mariposa and Stanislaus. Partner agencies will include social service agencies and nonprofits, school districts, job training centers, the Sierra Conservation Center and more.

The Motherlode Educational Opportunity Program (MEOC) will be hiring staff and launching services this fall.  The new transition specialists will be centered at Columbia College and will travel to partner agencies on a weekly basis to assist adults with the following services:

  • Information regarding the benefits of, and options for, participating in postsecondary education
  • Support applying for college
  • Support applying for financial aid
  • Referral to alternative and adult education programs including GED and ESL programs
  • Workshops on goal setting, financial planning, major and career selection, etc.
  • Connections to services including test prep, tutoring, counseling (academic and personal), etc.

Brandon Price, Columbia’s Associate Dean of Student Equity, said the services are essential for adults in the Mother Lode who want to prepare for better opportunities.

“Our MEOC partners indicated that adults in our area have a profound need for support in their efforts to enroll in, and navigate, post-secondary institutions,” Price said. “And research suggests that access to, and participation in, higher education is key to economic mobility.”

Regionally, only one in five adults age 25 or older hold a college degree, yet that is an increasingly important step to better paying jobs. Nationally, by 2020, an estimated 65 percent of jobs will require at least an associate degree, and regional trends match that outlook. Of the region’s 300 occupations that now pay at least $20 per hour, 68% require at least some college or post-secondary training.

Educational Opportunity Centers are one of eight federal grant programs collectively known as the Federal TRIO Programs. TRIO Programs identify and provide services for individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds. They help low-income individuals, first-generation college students, and individuals with disabilities progress through the academic pipeline from middle school to post-baccalaureate programs.

Columbia College has a related TRIO program, Student Support Services, now in its sixth year, that provides support services to first-generation or low-income college students already enrolled at Columbia College who are headed for a four-year university. The new MEOC program seeks to reach adults in the community who are not attending college, and are interested in learning more about options of all types of college and post-secondary training.

For more information contact: Anneka Rogers-Whitmer, Director of TRiO – 209-588-5145

Additional information is available from the US Department of Education.