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They stood in the snowy field with winter kissing their pointy fingers as their limbs intertwined, watching the younger ones.  The solitude and quiet of the landscape were comforting. The snow crunched in the distance. Strangers approached and the birds grew silent. They both bristled and stiffened and stood even straighter. “This one, Daddy!” A little girl announced. A big man approached and pulled a string. The buzzing machine belched a plume of smoke. The man dragged her away and carelessly threw her in the bed of his truck. Her family screamed and cried for her.  Not a Merry Christmas.


A Beautiful Rural-ality

Pocahontas County, West Virginia. Photo courtesy of Leanne Stowers

With the COVID-19 pandemic catching fire through sprawling cityscapes, some folks may want to take more than a holiday from the neighborhood.  If you’re ready for a change of pace, an affordable cost of living, a stable business climate, world-class educational facilities, breathtaking vistas and views, and out-of-this-world recreation, West Virginia should be on your short list, if not number one with a bullet.

West Virginia is a retreat.  A place of privacy and safety.  West Virginia is an oasis of rolling hills and abrupt mountains, streams that whisper, rivers that shout, trails that meander in solace and offer reflection and cities that bustle with character.  West Virginia is home, vacation and farm getaways.

West Virginian’s are safe in our hills and we have deep roots in our communities. We’re people of faith, hope, help, determination, and ambition.  We’re creative, innovative, welcoming and motivated.  We walk among the ancient, massive oaks and maples that have watched wildlife, hunters and the mountaineers that came before us.  We can see the sky and stars and do not have to run from the shadows of skyscrapers to feel the sun.

West Virginia is home to high-tech, aviation, healthcare, manufacturing, chemicals, plastics, and energy.  Our businesses adapt and shift in times of crisis and thrive in our business climate.  Our educational institutions teach, nurture, and partner with industry.

With our affordable cost of living, our way of life is easy and comfortable.  West Virginia is the little engine that does.

West Virginia is a retreat, its own state of mind.  A beautiful rural-ality and that’s why we call it home.

Apprenticeship In Motion

What is a modern apprenticeship?  Apprenticeship In Motion (AIM) is apprenticeship – The Next Generation.  AIM promotes and expands non-traditional apprenticeships in West Virginia and is a combination of classroom and on-the-job training.   

Completely employer driven, companies set in motion an apprenticeship model that trains an apprentice based on the unique needs of business.  A company is in complete control of hiring, training and choosing a training partner; whether it’s a community college, a career and technical education center or some other training provider. 

Apprenticeships are making a comeback with industry across the United States, according to this recent Forbes article:

Apprenticeships benefit industry by delivering a highly skilled employee trained the company’s way, lowers turnover rates and investment in recruitment.  Apprenticeships increase employee productivity and delivers a more diverse workforce.

Apprenticeships benefit job seekers by earning wages while training and working on-the-job.  In addition, they acquire improved skills and competencies, can earn higher wages as their skills increase, and gain nationally recognized credentials aiding in career advancement.  Further, apprenticeship affords the opportunities of high-paying jobs without mounds of student debt.

By investing in an apprenticeship program, companies build lasting relationships with employees; fostering trust and loyalty.  Apprentices tend to stay with the companies they train with longer than other employees, reducing employer costs, according to the Dept. of Labor.

The United States workforce will be reduced by 40 percent within 10 years due to retirement.  Businesses can help keep young people in their communities, grow and develop their workforce and can thrive through modern apprenticeship programs.

WVQHA Horse Show

The West Virginia Quarter Horse Association hosts horse shows weekly, April through September at Winfield Riding Club, Winfield, WV. Riders and owners were helpful and friendly while I photographed.

Photo Exercise: Portrait, Candid