The Rural South Texas Economic Development Corporation (RSTEDC), a 501 ©(3) charitable organization, was formed in 1988 to “combat community deterioration, poverty, and unemployment” through, among other things, “education and training." RSTEDC became dormant as a result of the economic downturn in the late eighties and early nineties. It became reactivated in 2008 to create Los Mesteños Career Academy (LMCA) to address the high unemployment rates existing in South Texas despite the severe shortage of skilled workers being suffered by area employers.

Initiatives undertaken thus far by Los Mesteños Academy are to provide medical training in the form of CNA classes. Thus far fourteen young people from the Brooks County ISD have completed this program and passed their State Exams. The second class of CNA students that began their study in May consists of fourteen community people and will complete in August. There is a third class scheduled to begin in September of 2009. The CNA training is the first step to a nursing career, and sometimes the impetus to go on for further training. LMCA partners with Coastal Bend College to deliver certified training opportunities.

In addition to the medical training, LMCA has provided a welding class for dual-credit high school students. More classes are being developed in law enforcement, CDL driving, heavy equipment operating, and electrical/plumbing. Classes are developed as demand for occupations is determined through the Texas Workforce Commission.

LMCA is currently completing a Summer Youth Project with Workforce Solutions, a Texas Workforce contractor. This project entitled “Green Building” is a hands-on approach for young people ages 14 to 19 to look at the construction industry as a career field, and green building as a choice for the future. The seventeen participants are actually building a small structure (24’ x 20’) at one of the local parks in Falfurrias, TX. This structure will be used by the city as a Visitor’s Center when completed. The young people are being exposed to the total process, including electrical and plumbing, and to the various types of energy-efficient materials to help sustain scarce natural resources. These young people will also learn about sustainable energy by taking field trips to the Kenedy Windfarm project, Texas A & M University-Kingsville to the solar generating area at the Agricultural College, and to a local Recycling Center. Hopefully, when this six week project is completed, the young people will understand the need to be conscious of our environment and to protect it from global warming one person at a time.

Partnerships are the key to the success of LMCA. Without the various community organizations, county, city and ISD, along with local churches, there would be no way to move forward with our initiatives. It truly takes a “village” to perform miracles. LMCA is moving forward with many plans for 2010, and our partners make it possible.