For the last couple of years, Wapiti resident Richard Jones said he’s gone to various community sessions held by Northwest College to envision a future for the two-year Powell institution.
Now he wants to take on a bigger role by becoming a NWC Board trustee representing Cody. He’s one of three candidates running for two slots.
Jones, who ran for state senate in the Republican primary this summer, serves on both the city and county planning and zoning boards.
He has some specific ideas for how he’d like to help the college and said he’d also like to be a part of the group that helps chart the college through expected funding crises brought on by the decline in state funding sources.
“I would be thrilled to have a hand in helping guide them,” he said.
Jones said he’d like to start a long-term plan that would see the college appeal more to adult learners and those who aren’t after degrees so much as certificates and training. He’d also want the college to have better branding – including a name change – that would appeal to more people from out-of-state who would come for a program both for the strength of the education and for the chance to be in the Big Horn Basin and near Yellowstone National Park.
“There are a lot of Northwest Colleges,” he said. “They could be something like Yellowstone College, for example. Selling your destination will draw in other groups.”
That’s not to say he doesn’t appreciate what the college is at this moment – he said he’s taken classes at NWC since he returned to the area.
He also appreciates education, having himself studied a fair amount and acquired two associated degrees before getting a bachelor’s.
While he’s only lived at his Wapiti residence for six years, he has lived in the region at various points in his life.
Jones, a conservative Republican, said it’s his local experiences, combined with public and private sector work across the country, that make him a good candidate.
Jones was born in the Black Hills and lived inside Yellowstone when he was young and his father worked as a ranger out of Mammoth Hot Springs.
Later Jones worked as a ranger himself. He was with the U.S. Park Service for 25 years, including a five-year stint at Big Horn Canyon National Recreation Area. He also spent time as the chief ranger at the Virgin Islands State Park.
He finished his park service career in Mississippi as a top ranger for the Natchez Trace Parkway.
Following that he worked for the Mississippi state government as a gaming agent checking on riverfront casinos.