Staff and students at the Alaska Job Corps Center and the entire Job Corps community were shocked and saddened to hear the news of Congressman Don Young’s passing on March 18. Not only has he represented the state in congress for many years, but he had a major impact on the Alaska center and a number of the students and staff that have been part of the Alaska Job Corps family.
In the early 1990s, the idea of placing a Job Corps center in Alaska was in its infancy. Many in congress believed the state had too small of a population to justify placing a Job Corps Center in the state. Young convinced them otherwise, and insisted the center would be a perfect place to give young Alaskans the opportunity to receive first-class training and career development. In 1994, the Alaska Job Corps Center opened, giving thousands of Alaskans the opportunity to graduate and move on to various careers and other endeavors.
Congressman Young took personal ownership of the center. He was the primary driver of creating the Alaska Job Corps Center from its inception. He knew that a strong way for Alaskan youth to develop their career and training was through the trades which Alaska Job Corps has provided to many.
The Alaska Job Corps Center is able to provide many technical trainings to Alaskans including carpentry, electrical, water and wastewater treatment, welding, small engine repair, and more, thanks to Congressman Young’s persistence. He knew this would be an opportunity for Alaskans to develop their skill sets to create viable career opportunities in both urban and rural settings.
During frequent visits to the Alaska Job Corps Center, Congressman Young would specifically ask to go on tours that would show off the trades. He wanted to see the buildings and furnishings that students were working on. No tour of Alaska Job Corps was complete with Congressman Young until he could see firsthand the student and their projects.
Every year, the National Job Corps Association would work on getting congressional signatories for a letter for Job Corps funding and special projects in the budget cycle and every year, Congressman Young was one of the firsts to sign. He never asked “how many Republicans or Democrats do you have so far?” He always signed early because he believed in the mission and the success of Job Corps in Alaska, and nationwide.
We can directly attribute the successful and independent lives of thousands of Alaskans who are now productive citizens of Alaska because of the foresight and dedication of Congressman Young to the Alaska Job Corps Center. As Alaskans and the nation move forward with memorial services for Congressman Young, the Alaska Job Corps Center remains grateful and contemplative of how much Congressman Young has done in the past half-century as Alaska’s sole representative in Congress. Rest in peace, Congressman and thank you for all of your work on behalf of the Alaska Job Corps Center the Job Corps community throughout your career.