September 12, 2023
Story by Maggie Harris
Courtesy photo submitted
Earlier this month, U.S. Rep. Tracey Mann toured the Ellsworth Correctional Facility (ECF) to learn about Barton Community College’s correctional education programming and visit with students.
The tour was led by facility administration, but the discussion centered on Barton’s programming and the students the College serves. Mann was most impressed by Barton’s commitment to workforce education for the students at ECF. He said that the environment that had been created was inspiring.
“I was excited to see the world-class technical education happening at both Barton Community College and Ellsworth Correctional Facility,” said Rep. Mann. “With labor shortages affecting nearly every American industry, I’m proud to see this kind of investment in the future of America’s economy happening right here in the Big First.”
Barton’s Coordinator of Correctional Education Services Nicole Barr was present for the tour and said she engaged in very productive discussions with Mann about the educational environment and the students the College serves at ECF.
“Barton is doing its part to help create a safer Kansas,” Barr said. “Correctional education helps break the cycle of recidivism [committing repeat offenses] and helps offenders successfully and gainfully reintegrate into society.”
Barton has served ECF for over twenty years and has become one of the nation's most successful correctional education programs. The program serves more than 200 students annually through adult basic education, traditional post-secondary courses, and technical training. Students can train in hands-on programs like welding technology, which allows them to gain a skill to help prepare them for a better future once released.
Mann sat down with students in a government class taught by Communications Instructor Peter Solie. He spent some time discussing what he does and the legislation he works on. He also had time to take some questions from the students on various topics.
Barr said that one thing Mann pointed out was all the Barton notebooks, folders, and backpacks the students were using, and Barr explained that those items are part of a deliberate effort to help the students really feel like college students as much as possible.
“We have a chance to help them mentally escape for a short time and experience college,” she said. “It gives them the space to explore their future and what they are really made of.”
Mann also toured the new Agriculture and Transportation Complex construction site on the Barton County campus. Upon completion, the facility will be home to high-demand career programs, including Agriculture Business Management, Crop Protection, Beef Cattle Production, and Commercial Driver’s License (CDL). It will also house the highly anticipated Case New Holland (CNH) Top Tech Industrial Training program.