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West Delaware Showcases Apprenticeship Program to State Officials

State leaders were in Manchester on Monday to learn about West Delaware’s innovative apprenticeship program.

With growing interest in expanding work-based learning, Iowa Workforce Development Director Beth Townsend and STEM Council Executive Director Jeff Weld are traveling the state this fall to see some of the innovative programs underway in high schools across Iowa – and on Monday morning, they brought their tour to Henderson Products to meet with West Delaware and their local partners.

Director Townsend says West Delaware is truly leading the way. When West Delaware started their registered welding apprenticeship program in 2018, they were only the third school in the state to have a registered apprenticeship program – now that number is up to 170.

“West Delaware is proud to be a state leader in all areas of work based learning,” says West Delaware Superintendent Dr. Kristen Rickey. “Apprenticeship is one important component of this, but there are many other opportunities currently available to our students. We are working to ensure that every student has some form of work based learning prior to graduating from high school. This serves our students and our community both. It is a pleasure to work in a community that works so hard to partner with the school district to the benefit of everyone involved!”

West Delaware has seen a total of eighteen completed apprenticeships, with ten currently active. Their apprenticeships have given them work-based learning at Henderson’s Inc, Stanley Black and Decker, XL Specialized Trailers, Three Rivers FS, Roda’s Chevrolet, Fareway and Boubin. In addition to welding, there are apprenticeships for automotive, ag service and propane technicians – and West Delaware High School Principal Tim Felderman says they are continuously considering how they can add more. The school has a masonry pre-apprenticeship embedded into the Construction Trades class and meat cutting pre-apprenticeship embedded into the Foods II class.

After touring Henderson’s, Townsend and Weld participated in a roundtable discussion with several West Delaware administrators, instructors and apprentices, as well as economic development officials, legislators and the businesses and industries who are working with these apprentices.  

Kevin Schueller is Director of Manufacturing Operations at Henderson Products.

Schueller says Henderson’s has had several apprentices over the years – and it benefits both the students and their industry.

Kirk Burkle is the manager of Boubin Tire and Automotive in Manchester. He says they’ve been working with West Delaware for years.

Burkle says the apprenticeships have been a win-win for Boubin’s and the students.

RJ Helmrichs is a West Delaware welding apprentice at XL Trailers in Manchester. 

Alex Thurn is a West Delaware auto apprentice at Boubin’s.

Thurn says it has opened his eyes to different opportunities after high school.

Helmrichs says the welding apprenticeship has been the ideal way for him to learn.



photos courtesy of Janelle Tucker/KMCH

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