Something amazing is happening in the Grand Canyon state. Steeped in the rich colors of the Arizona landscape is a multi-campus college with strong community ties and a passion for innovation. Yavapai College is an interesting mix of entrepreneurial thinking, artistic expression, agricultural savvy, and workforce innovation.   

Sunshine and snow met us on our November visit to the campus in Prescott, Ariz. Yessnow. While it would be considered a “dusting” by midwestern standards, the combination of snow and Arizona sunshine was unexpected. But there are so many things about this college that challenge expectations.  

Look into the horizon to see a field designed to grow futures, not just grapes. A full-service winery in Clarkdale serves as both a tasting room and an agricultural business classroom, complete with ground-to-production processes handled by faculty and students from across the country learning how to succeed in this unique industry. Down the road into the Chino Valley, there’s a full-production greenhouse where students grow vegetables, raise fish, and hone their agricultural and entrepreneurial skills.  

Agriculture isn’t the only thing growing at Yavapai College. As one of the only colleges in America teaching 3D house printing, Yavapai is literally printing homes with concrete. This forward-thinking approach to education and solving community housing needs keeps the college on the cutting edge of industry innovation and community problem-solving. If you can grow itthey can and will.  

The college boasts impressive facilities, but even more striking is the sense of community among staff and students who go out of their way to create a sense of belonging on campus. Walking through the student hub, we noticed subtle “You Belong” stickers on the walls. We’d later learn that students championed the message and placed it throughout the campus to reinforce it.   

Yavapai College is not only mission-focused, it’s beautiful. There is intentionality in messaging and environmental design. Ruff, the mascot, engages in academic programs, training, and sports at any given time. Ruff has been incorporated as a unifying, smile-inducing example of Yavapai College culture. If Ruff can play soccer, become a welder, perform in a show, and play in an e-sports tournamentall in a day’s workcertainly it’s possible to enroll in a class.   

 Yavapai College is a clear example of what happens when college energy and innovation are harnessed to tell a story that is community-inspired and community-aligned.   

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