Cannabis Retail Management Cohort Recognized

POUGHKEEPSIE – Dutchess Community College’s new Cannabis Retail Management microcredential launched fall 2023. The inaugural cohort was honored at an end-of-semester ceremony held on the College’s main campus on December 13.

New York’s cannabis market is expected to generate $4 billion over the next five years, despite the slow rollout. Last year, in anticipation of what this opportunity would mean for the state, SUNY awarded a three-year $1 million grant to the Hudson Valley Education + Workforce Consortium (HVE+WC), a group of six community colleges led by SUNY Orange, to develop course offerings aligned with the skills employers need.

DCC faculty members Professor Mark Condon (Biology) and Assistant Professor Maureen Gittelman (Hospitality & Tourism) worked together with the Consortium and local industry professionals to develop the curriculum, which provides focused, comprehensive training to meet the demand.

Sixteen students – with interests ranging from retail to cultivation – went through the program. In addition to learning and building their professional networks, several said that their commitment to community and education were what drove them to study Cannabis Retail Management at DCC.

Angela and Stephanie Barone are a mother- and daughter-in-law duo who enrolled in the program together. The family ran Hyde Park Brewing Company for 27 years and received their adult-use cannabis license in April.

“As we were getting organized and thinking about opening our dispensary, we really wanted to get equipped with as much knowledge as we could,” Angela shared. “We want to be on the cutting edge and know the most up-to-date information.”

Stephanie said, “Since it’s such a new industry, we thought about how this certification from Dutchess could help us build our workforce. If I want my supervisors to take these classes, I want to know exactly what it is they’re going to learn.”

Timothy Mazyck, a 59-year-old student with more than 25 years of customer service and entrepreneurial experience, described the program as “fun and enlightening.” “There’s always something new to learn,” he said. “Everyone in class gets along and comes together in a supportive community. I have 15 new friends who’ll all be involved in different aspects of the cannabis industry.”

The Cannabis Retail Management Recognition Ceremony brought together higher education and cannabis industry professionals –including DCC President Dr. Peter Grant Jordan, DCC faculty and staff, members of the Consortium and Johnny LeHane, co-founder and chief operating officer for Trimmr, who welcomed students to the industry. In addition to celebrating the achievements of DCC Cannabis Retail Management students, the event was also a networking opportunity where local industry leaders could connect, discuss the industry and meet their soon-to-be new colleagues.

“You know you had a great semester when you’re sad to see it come to an end,” Professor Condon shared. “This cohort of students was a joy to teach.”

Professor Gittelman remarked, “The students in our program came from diverse backgrounds. Some haven’t been in a college classroom for 10 to 15 years – or ever. But, they committed themselves to the program and to each other. It was a privilege to teach them.”

DCC President Dr. Jordan said, “The Cannabis Retail Management microcredential is a great example of the ways DCC and the SUNY system continue to innovate, finding new ways to collaborate with business and industry to develop quality programming that truly serves our community.”

“Congratulations to Dutchess Community College for standing up a much-needed cannabis retail management microcredential that leads students to a valuable short-term credential. And kudos to the 16 students who are now better prepared to succeed within an expanding industry right here in the Hudson Valley,” said SUNY Orange president Dr. Kristine Young. “Dutchess’ leadership and vision to create this microcredential program demonstrates the power of the Hudson Valley Educational + Workforce Consortium.”

The 13-credit microcredential helps students develop critical business skills in retail management, merchandising, storeroom operations, cost control, customer service and cannabis science. The four required classes are streamlined to be completed in one 15-week semester, with a schedule designed for the non-traditionally aged student who may already be working in the hospitality or retail industry.

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