Rick Sizemore

Director of the Wilson Workforce and Rehabilitation Center

Steve Sweeney

is available at

Heidi Warner

is available at

To learn more about Dream It. Do It.

Career Pathways for Individuals with Disabilities



Rick: Well, thank you for joining us for today’s special episode of The VR Workforce Studio Podcast. We always appreciate it when you take a little of your time to spend with us, being part of the ongoing disability employment, and vocational rehabilitation conversation. I’m Rick Sizemore, your host; Anne Hudlow is on vacation and re-joins us later this month for the big inspiration showcase with Jimmy Fraley, as we talk about individuals with Autism; are filling the talent pipelines for the telecommunications industry. On the special episode today, we’re on the vocational rehabilitation journey with a young man who is enrolled in a vocational rehabilitation training program in Food Service, and Culinary Arts. He’s gaining valuable skills, and credentials for a career in food service (And you here a little arrow, that we play every time we hit the Workforce Innovation and Opportunities Act objectives). Broady Stotler had no idea, that one day in his training program; he would cater a meal that put him in front of a nationally acclaimed chef, and they he’d get critiqued; leaving him on pins and needles about moving to the next round. We will talk with Broady, and hear his story. And its summer time, lots of “Dream It. Do It.” camps and academies that are opening the doors to career pathways for individuals with disabilities. We check in with Steve Sweeney, and Heidi Warner, about some of the initiatives that are happening this summer, and offer some helpful links and resources.

Rick: First up, Broady Stotler, welcome to the podcast Broady.

Broady: Thanks for having me here.

Rick: Well, we are glad to have you. Broady, you are involved in vocational training at Wilson Workforce; what’s that like?

Broady: Fantastic, wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.

Rick: You like food service training?

Broady: Love it.

Rick: Could you tell us about your disability?

Broady: I have a reading disability, so whenever I’m reading stuff, I sometimes have a hard time comprehending what I am reading, and understanding it; but in the kitchen so far, it hasn’t affected me too much.

Rick: You found your place in the kitchen?

Broady: Mhm.

Rick: Awesome, and this looks like a career path that is really going to work out for you. You can gain some skills, get a credential; and gain your way to competitive integrated employment.

Broady: Yep! Mhm.

Rick: That’s awesome! So, John Ferguson, is an executive sous chef at the Omni Hotel and Resort’s Homestead, and that’s out in Hot Springs. That’s a premier resort, and before John was at Omni, he was a sous chef at the Bellagio out in Las Vegas, so you recently had an opportunity to cater a meal, and serve it to John.

Broady: Mhm.

Rick: What was that like, scary?

Broady: Yea, I didn’t even know until somebody told me. Someone came over and told me “did you know that this guy, was this guy,” and I was just like “wait what?” I just served this to whom?

Rick: Well, I was able to get a recording, because something happened during the meal, and you found yourself in front of this great chef being critiqued. Let’s listen to what John had to say.

John: I thought it was fantastic; the food for the type of setting is perfect food. Absolutely, the chicken was tasty and moist, it had a nice amount of sauce on it. It was the right cut of meat, and it was a chicken thigh – it was really great! I thought the salad bar components could be colder – but, that’s it! The cake was delicious, very delicious actually, and a great variety. I love the watermelon rations out there, you don’t see those everywhere, those are great.

Rick: So if we were all on Chopped, you wouldn’t get chopped at all, you’d move to the next round! How ‘bout some applause! (end recording)

Rick: So, pretty powerful comments from a very high level chef.

Broady: Yea, it feels really great; it’s nice moving ahead knowing that somebody like him thinks that I’m doing something good. I am glad that he came, and just to be here, I’m glad he was here, and I am glad I got to meet him.

Rick: So Broady, you’re moving ahead to the next round in the food service industry, with a cool endorsement from one of the country’s top chefs, best of luck to you in everything you do.

Broady: Thank you.

Rick: It’s summer, lots of “Dream It. Do It.” camps and academies going on. Steve Sweeney is the Manufacturing Technology training instructor at Wilson Workforce. Steve, what’s in store for “Dream It. Do It.” at Wilson Workforce this year.

Steve: We’re excited to still have this academy this summer, as we have done in the past, and we think it’ll be some fun things that are going on. We are going to talk about principles and processes in the manufacturing industry. We wanted to make sure that they have the understanding of what manufacturing is now, and going forward – including that 2/3rds of jobs in the future for manufacturing, are predicted now to at least require some, post high school education and training.

Rick: Things are changing dramatically.

Steve: Manufacturing of what it used to be, 50 to 60 years ago, is not what manufacturing is today, or what it is going to be in the future. Instead of moving things physically, now we are monitoring equipment that is moving the things. So, to be able to handle the operations and processes that are involved, inherent with monitoring that equipment, you have to understand some basics that we are trying to teach. And I think they’ll have enough understanding, what that is.

Rick: What is the hands on activity this year?

Steve: Well, we have a variety of activities that we have to emphasize the principles that we are talking about. Probably the main product, is that we have a water filtration system that was specifically designed for our academy, and it’s going to take potable water – well, it’s going to start with potable water and end with water. But, the process will be that will take water that was not pure and be able to go through a filtration and ultraviolet system, that will eventually allow them to bottle it. And, as part of this, we will have them do a process mapping, and be able to bottle it from the start, to the end; including designing the labels, and to have a finished product by the end.

Rick: And you have some field trips planned?

Steve: We have one already scheduled with McKee Baking, a local manufacturer. They do the Little Debbies products, which you have probably had some of.

Rick: I might want to go with you on that one.

Steve: Good food for though. Yea sure; and so we will have that opportunity; and afterwards we are going to follow that up with a picnic lunch, at McCormicks Farm, where for fun we are going to determine the torque that is produced in foot pounds, for the waterwheel that is used on McCormicks farm.

Rick: What a great opportunity for a young person to learn more about the career track in manufacturing. VMA says: “reduce the skills gap and the interest gap”. We have to start by introducing people to modern manufacturing – these “Dream It. Do It.” academies are a great way to do that, thank you Steve!

(end of Steve’s interview)

Rick: Well, we welcome to the podcast Heidi Warner of the Shenandoah Valley Workforce Development Board, who’s running one of the “Dream It. Do It.” camps; sponsored by the career pathways for individuals with disabilities. Welcome to the podcast Heidi.

Heidi: Thank you so much!

Rick: Tell us about the camp.

Heidi: Well, the camp is a manufacturing camp. It is a computer numerical control camp, so it is really interesting, and kind of new. I don’t think anyone has ever done anything really similar to this, but there is a great need for it in this area. And, so we are targeting local Virginia-resident, high-school students, and recent graduates to come and get a better understanding of manufacturing itself, and computer numerical control, to give them some exposure for future potential career opportunities in a very high demand field right now. So, we’re very excited about it.

Rick: What do you think the most exciting part of the camp will be for the participants?

Heidi: I think just getting to do really hands-on stuff. I know personally that I love to get my hands on things – and they are actually going to be creating their own puzzle. They are going to be making their own pieces to fit together with different machines, and I think it’ll be really cool for them to see the particular machines and the computer programs in action right in front of their faces. I think it will be pretty cool.

Rick: This seems like it is really getting at what Virginia manufactures association says is, one of the keys – which is to reduce the interest gap. So, you’re getting kids in there that have a chance to do some hands-on training, and see that modern manufacturing really is a great opportunity for someone that doesn’t want to go to college, but needs a credential, and wants to peruse a great career.

Heidi: Yes, it really is. There are plenty of people who maybe have some misconceptions about what a career in that field would look like; and this camp is a great way for them to get a real exposure to what an actual environment in that area would look like – and encourage them to move into that, if that is something that they are interested in. As far as having really really good pay, and good benefits, and just really something that you can make a long term career out of if you are willing to work hard, as with anything I guess.

Rick: So, it’s a new experience for you, are you excited?

Heidi: I am extremely excited, this academy is all about the students and I am super excited to get to meet them, and to work with them. The instructor we have, that is from the Valley Career Technical Center, is absolutely wonderful, he is super excited to work with the kids; and I think we are really excited to put this into play, and to see how it turns out.

Rick: Heidi, the camp is being held…

Heidi: It’s being held at Valley Career and Technical Center, in the machine shop area, as part of their program.

Rick: Awesome, we have been talking with Heidi Warner, of the Shenandoah Valley Workforce Development Board. Best of luck as you oversee the CNC Academy for “Dream It. Do It.” this year in 2017.

Heidi: Thank you so much!

Rick: This has been a special episode of the VR Workforce Studio.

Support for the WWRC Foundation’s production and for the distribution of the VR Workforce Studio comes from the Jesse Ball DuPont Foundation, Dominion Power, CVS Health, and the Virginia Manufactures Association.

(end of podcast)