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How a California Wine Region Is ‘Growing Futures’ By Turning Vineyards Into State-of-the-Art Classrooms

The primary industry in Lodi, California, is agriculture. About 40 miles southeast of the capital city of Sacramento, this land flanking the Mokelumne River is blanketed in grapevines dating back to 1850.  Over the past three decades the crop value has quadrupled in Lodi, and the number of independent wineries is edging up, in an effort to encourage wine tourism and local winemaking — and, in effect, creating a career pathway for area students.  

The nonprofit group San Joaquin A+ partnered with the Lodi Unified School District, Delta College and the Lodi Winegrape Commission to design a technical education curriculum and internship pipeline to prepare students for careers in the winegrowing, winemaking and hospitality industries. The program, Growing Futures, is now in its first year, and has been described as an innovative solution to the skills gap, a financially rewarding career path for many young people, and a much-needed economic boost for family farms. 

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