UPPER VALLEY– Those interested in perusing a personal interest, qualifying for online jobs, wanting to learn English or to get their GED, the Upper Valley is the place to do so.

To begin with, the College of Eastern Idaho plans to continue its outreach program this year by offering classes at South Fremont High School and online.

The classes include everything from bird watching to self-defense for women to veterinary assistance to Data Analysis.

“We try to offer things people will find interesting that they might be willing to learn. They’ll say ‘I don’t know what that is. I’ll check it out. It’s not going to take very long. It’s not going to cost me a fortune,’” said CEI’s Programs Director for Work Force Training and Community Education, Debi Borek.

Borek notes the ongoing cooperation with South Fremont High School officials in allowing CEI teachers to hold classes at the facility.

“It’s a really healthful partnership. We’re always so grateful to partner in these various areas. It makes it more user friendly, and people are comfortable going somewhere that they’re familiar with,” she said.

Under its “Hobbies” category in its brochure, CEI offers a bird watching and writing class.

Dallin Saurey plans to teach “Bird Watching in Eastern Idaho” from 7 to 9 p.m., on Tuesday, Feb. 26 and again at the same time on Thursday, February 28. He’ll teach it again from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. on Saturday, March 9, at the high school. The course costs $55.

“Learn how to recognize birds by sight, sound and flight and how to identify birds by body size, beak size, feathers and coloring,” says CEI in a press release.

Saurey also plans to teach the class “Upland Game and Water Bird of Idaho.” The class will be held from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m., Tuesday and Thursday, March 19 and March 28. The course also costs $55.

“Learn what makes Upland game and water birds so unique and how to identify them by beak size, color and feathers,” it said.

Saurey’s classes prove popular, Borek said.

“He absolutely loves teaching the class. Everyone picks up on his interest, his passion and his excitement,” she said.

CEI has also scheduled a class for would-be authors called “Write From The Start” to be held from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., starting Tuesday, March 5, and continuing every Tuesday at the same time — except on March 26 — through April 16 at the high school. The class is taught by published writer Ainsley McWha and costs $65.

McWha’s biography reports her articles being published in the “Washington Post” and “The Huffington Post.” She received a MFA in Creative Nonfiction from The New School. She recently moved to this area from New York with her husband.

“She just loves to teach people how to write. She’s a very personable person,” Borek said. “If you like to write, don’t be afraid to come get started.”

Often people believe there is something romantic involved in writing until they actually sit down and do it, Borek said.

“It’s not this sitting around all day dreaming, putting the words on the page. You have to keep moving forward. That’s what gets people afraid,” she said. “It takes someone (like McWha) who can help us unlock our creativity.”

“The course covers topics from sentences and setting, character and dialogue, scenes and overall story structure, to grammar and spelling mistakes that everyone makes,” the press release said. “(It) will provide students with exactly what they need to get started on their writing journey.”

Under the school’s lifestyle classes, CEI plans to offer Spanish 1 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., every Thursday starting Feb 28 and continuing through April 11 at the high school. Class won’t be held on March 24. This class teaches “Spanish Survival Skills.” The course will be taught by Robert Kincheloe and costs $65.

Students will learn the “universal language” through vocabulary and conversation. Students will study reading, pronunciation, pronouns, verbs, conjugations and adjectives, said the press release.

“Students will engage in simple conversation and common phrases and will learn survival Spanish,” it said. “There will be little homework but lots of practice.”

A Spanish two class also taught by Kincheloe will be held from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., from April 25 through May 30 at the high school. Students must have taken the Spanish one course. This class also costs $65.

“There will also be increased emphasis on conversational Spanish,” the press release said.

Borek says that the Spanish classes prove popular.

“Here on campus, ours is always full. We always have a waiting list,” she said. “I think people like to learn new languages for fun and for mind expanding.”

The college also plans to offer a “Spanish for Medical Professionals” online at a cost of $290.

“Whether you speak some Spanish and need a refresher or speak no Spanish, you will complete the course with the skills you will need to effectively communicate with your Spanish-speaking patients,” said the press release.

A self-defense course for women called R.A.D Systems is scheduled from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m., starting March 18 and continuing through March 21. The class is designed to provide realistic self-defense tactics. It is taught by Ashley Jackson and Jill Hathaway and costs $45.

“Students will be taught information about crime awareness prevention, risk reduction, avoidance strategies and easy-to-learn self-defense techniques,” it said.

Borek reports that CEI provides the class on a regular basis.

“It’s usually full. We hear rave reviews about them that the class is terrific,” she said.

An Optimizing Mental Wellness Through Lifestyle and Nutrition class is also being offered. It runs from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. every Tuesday from March 12 through March 26. The class is taught by Steve and Rachel Huber and costs $49.

“Come learn ways to increase wellness, deal with stress and help with depression and anxiety,” said the school’s press release.

The brand new course covers such topics as sleep, exercise, self-compassion, mindfulness, thought processing and nutrition.

“It’s exciting. They’re going to do weekly practices and activities that they’re going to work on through the week until the next class. It’s always good to take something away and report on how it worked,” she said.

In the school’s Computer and Technology department, CEI plans to offer Intermediate Excel from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m., Tuesday and Thursday from April 9 through May 2. Shawna Smith plans to teach the class that costs $115. Students should have taken Introduction to Excel or have experience with the program.

“Participants will continue learning about features and capabilities of the program such as formatting, organizing multiple sheets, headings, footers and scrolling between worksheets,” it said. “Students who want an effective way to quickly create useful charts of any kind or who need an easy way to keep records will find this class very helpful.”

Smith also plans to teach “Beginning Computers and Introduction to Word” from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m., every Tuesday and Thursday beginning March 5 and continuing through April 4 at the high school. Class will not be held on March 24. It costs $115 to take this course.

“This course is ideal for those with limited computer skills who want to learn the basics of computer operation and word processing in a stress free environment,” said the press release.

No prior computer experience is required for this course. The class teaches students how to make and save documents, do document formatting and to prepare documents for printing, it said.

Borek says that Smith has taught computers at the college for 20 years.

“Shawna is very patient and very kind,” she said. “She never asks ‘What do you mean, you don’t know how to use a computer?’ She’s very low key and makes people feel comfortable,” she said.

Borek noted there remain many residents who haven’t used computers and have little experience with them.

“There are some people who are a little nervous about using a computer. Sometimes a class like this is a good for them where they have face-to-face interaction. They can move at their own speed,” she said. “They overcome their fear of ‘I don’t want to push the button in case I’m wrong.’ We say ‘It’s fine. Push the button and see what happens. If something happens, we can help you get out of what’s wrong.’”

The college’s remaining courses are online and “self-paced.” They do cost substantially more, Borek said.

“We don’t currently have a funding mechanism. Someone could plan and say ‘I need to do this and put the money aside and find a way to fund it’. That’s one of the challenges,” she said.

Under the college’s Networking division, it’s offering a class called CompTIAA+220-901. The course costs $549.

“Get hands-on expertise in CompTIAA+ certification exam by taking this course. CompTIAA+ is globally recognized, vendor neutral exam designed for IT professionals,” the college said.

Borek said that it’s for people planning to work in various companies networking divisions.

“The certification – a lot of employers are looking for. It’s something someone could use while working from home,” she said.

The expectation is that the class will provide job skills and job opportunities in the region.

“They don’t have to leave. It strengthens the economy of our region. A lot of times, people don’t have to go to a big city to have a great job,” Borek said.

In the college’s Business and Professional Career Development department, EIC is offering an online class called “Certificate in Data Analysis” that runs from April 1 through June 28. It costs $495 to take this class.

“It is a huge thing. With everything being digital, and everything being online, there’s a whole bunch of information. It’s ‘Now what the heck do you do with it?’ It’s a new career area,” she said.

Data analysts are needed to analyze collected data.

“It’s a new field and really interesting. It’s one of the top selling classes. (Companies) need help with all the data they’ve gathered,” Borek said.

The school’s press release states that data analysis is becoming a highly sought after skill.

“Add a whole new skill set to your portfolio, and make a big difference in the success of your organization by data analysis skills,” said the press release.

A Certificate in Accounting and Finance for Non-Financial Managers class is also being offered. The class is scheduled from April 1 through June 28 and costs $495. The class takes an average of 48 hours.

“In this course, you’ll learn the financial concepts and accounting process used in most businesses,” it said.

Borek says that anybody in a management position needs to better understand their company’s finances.

“They don’t necessarily speak accounting. This is a way to explain it to them. It’s how to interact with those professionals and how to interact with the information. It’s in layman’s terms that can help them be more successful in meeting the bottom line and controlling the budget. There’s always been a need for this,” Borek said.

The college is also offering a Certificate in Workplace Communication that runs from March 4 through March 26 and again from April 1 through June 28 and takes an average of 56 hours to complete. It costs $595.

“Learn successful conflict management strategies, improve your negotiation skills and more,” said the school’s press release.

Borek reported that the class is geared toward supervisors and managers, but anyone can take the class.

“Communication is one of the biggest issues in anything and in any kind of a relationship. Having people skills is never a bad idea,” Borek said.

Another course offered is the Certificate in Basic Game Design. It’s offered online from April 1 through May 31 and costs $395.

“That’s kind of a fun one. Again a lot of these kinds of jobs and the nature of them, you don’t have to be physically located with a company,” she said.

Computer games provide another way to deliver information to people, Borek said.

“It’s more fun, and it kind of captures their interest. It’s ‘How do you design and develop the video and analog games’ with ‘What’s the focus to use them?’ How can you use it to deliver training and influence people,’” she said.

The school is also planning a Management and Leadership class. It’s a self-paced course that takes about 48 hours to complete and runs from March 4 through April 26 and also from April 1 through June 28. It costs $595.

“Find out how to create clear expectations and (to) motivate employees,” its press release said.

Also offered is the Supervisory and Leadership Certificate that’s being offered online from April 1 through May 24. It costs $395.

“It’s a little more along the lines of a first time supervisor. It’s ‘How do you take somebody from being a coworker to being a supervisor and sort of make that transition?’” she said. “A lot of times, we’re promoted, and we should automatically know how to do this job. This is kind of all the stuff to do with ‘how do you lead people?’ ‘What’s your responsibility?’” Borek said.

A course in Certificate in Project Management is being provided. It’s being offered online from April 1 through June 28. It costs $495. The school reports that the skills gained via the class are considered essential in any size company.

“It’s really ‘How do you manage a project with all the moving projects and to keep them all going along so you get to the end result of what you need,” she said.

One class designed for the 21st century is the Social Media for Business Certificate. It’s being held from April 1 to June 28 and costs $495.

“You can learn how to manage and utilize social media for business purposes. It’s how to really tailor messages, who those messages get to and the best networks for different strategies,” Borek said.

Also offered is the online Digital Marketing Certificate that runs from March 4 through April 26 and also from April 1 through June 28. It costs $495.

“In the old days, marketing was brochures and pamphlets. It’s about the digital component that’s currently replaced that medium. It’s ‘How do you do them where and when. Who are you targeting?’” she said.

For more information on the classes, call 208-535-5345 or visit cei.edu/wft.

CEI is hoping to eventually offer some of its classes in Rexburg. In the meantime, it’s offering English as a Second Language Classes as well as General Equivalency Degree classes at its office located at 343 E. 4th North inside the Teton River Business Center.

The GED is for those who have not yet received their high school diploma, and there are some in the community who haven’t, said EIC’s College and Career Readiness Outreach Coordinator Sandy Takahashi.

“We do have adult basic GED classes. They’re basically for students to get their GED’s or for students to prepare for college during the days and evening,” she said.

Takahashi said she has some students who were homeschooled and are taking the GED classes to get the certificate. The classes are free of charge. Math, English, Social Studies and Science are taught Monday through Thursday. On Monday and Wednesday nights, the school provides a “multilevel subject” class. To receive the certificate, students take four tests costing $30 each at the CEI campus.

The school’s ESL classes are also free and open to anyone who wants to hone their English as a second language skills.

“Our students are mostly Latino. We had one from Madagascar. We had a Japanese student. We’ve had Koreans. We’ve had Brazilians,” Takahashi said.

Takahashi says that many of her ESL students have also been a part of Brigham Young University-Idaho’s Pathway program.

“I’ve had students do both. ESL is a great way for them to practice,” she said.

For more information on the GED and ESL programs, call 208-535-5386.

In Madison County, adult education is ongoing and offered through the Madison School District’s Madison Cares program. All the classes are free and are offered at the Madison Education Center located at 60 West Main.

To begin with, Madison Cares offers a class called “Mental Health First Aid Training.” On its webpage, officials say that the program gives community members a chance to better understand what mental health is. It’s an especially good program for those working with youth. The next class is scheduled from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, February 23.

“Just as CPR helps you assist an individual having a heart attack — even if you have no clinical training — Mental Health First Aid helps you assist someone experiencing a mental health related crisis,” it said.

In the class, students learn about depression, mood disorders, anxiety disorders, trauma, psychosis and substance use disorders.

“Mental Health First Aid teaches about recovery and resiliency – the belief that individuals experiencing these challenges can and do get better, and use their strengths to stay well,” said Madison Cares.

The organization also teaches a course called “Darkness to Light.” It’s designed to help residents fight and to overcome child sexual abuse. The next class is scheduled from 6 to 8 p.m., Thursday, February 21.

“When prevention is a priority, only then can we eliminate child sexual abuse,” it said.

The program is nationally recognized, officials said.

“(It is) scientifically proven to increase knowledge, improve attitudes and change child-protective behaviors,” Madison Cares said.

Madison Cares also offers the class “Why Can’t My Partner Hear Me? Giving and Receiving Love in the Right Language” that’s being taught by therapist Jeffery Finch. The class will be held from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., Thursday, Feb 28.

“He’s going to be using the principles from the book on love languages. It’s about understanding each others’ love language,” said Madison Care’s Early Childhood and family coordinator Debrah Allen. “There are people who really like touch, gifts or service.”

Another class offered is called “Secrets to a Good Night’s Sleep For You and Your Child.” The class is being taught by Cyndi Wakefield and is offered from 10 a.m. to noon on Wednesday, March 6.

“She’ll be teaching parents a secret to helping their children sleep better. Every book you read has a different secret. She’s read and studied them and talks about how every child has a secret to sleep. There isn’t one secret for every child,” Allen said.

Also offered is a class called “Calming the Chaos and Nurturing the Mind Based on Principles from No-Drama Discipline.” Kaylonnie Blumenberg plans to teach the class scheduled to be given from 10 a.m. to noon, Wednesday, March 13 and again at the same time Wednesday, March 27.

“It’s another parenting style. We are looking at a relationship style of parenting and to build a relationship, work with your child rather than using tricks and things like that,” she said.

For more information on Madison Cares, continuing classes call 208-359-1256