Get hooked on hospitality at JWCC

Culinary arts is just one part of the hospitality industry.

The hospitality industry employs more than 14 million people in he U.S. The Quincy Area Conventions and Visitors Bureau reports more than 1,000 of those jobs are in tourism in Adams, Pike and Hancock Counties.

"There's such big opportunity in the hospitality business," John Wood Community College's Director of Hospitality Leah Erke said. "There's such a need for qualified people even working front desk. There's definitely a need for mangers. There's a shortage of good trained people out there."

Leah Erke has been in the hospitality industry for years. Now, she brings her knowledge of the business to students at John Wood. She's the director of its hospitality program that recently added lodging management and restaurant management options to its associate degree path.

"If they just kind of want to try it out to see if they think this is what they want to do, this is the perfect place to get their feet wet," she said.

The new changes to the hospitality program will offer more opportunities for students.

"Our students can still get the restaurant management degree, culinary degree if they want to be a chef of if they want to run a restaurant now they can also get the training in the hotel business," Erke said. "I think it makes our students more well rounded."

Erke is also furthering her knowledge in the business. She's traveling to Vermont this summer to the New England Culinary Institute for culinary training.

"It's good to be able to share that experience with the students," she said.

An experience that will hopefully get her students thinking that hospitality can be a career.

"I have calls and emails asking for my graduates," Erke said. "There's so many opportunities for everybody."

KHQA's Kristen Aguirre got a taste of the hospitality industry. See her get put to work, here.