Mike Rowe at the Planet Green Premiere and Concert. Greek Theater, Los Angeles, CA. 05-28-08 (Shutterstock)

CASPER, Wyo. — Mike Rowe knows dirty jobs. In his years hosting the Discovery Channel’s “Dirty Jobs,” Rowe got to know the people behind them. He also learned there’s a skill gap in America.

That will be the topic of Rowe’s talk when he visits Casper College in October.

The idea to bring Rowe to Casper seemed like a dream a year ago for Casper College President Darren Divine, PhD, and Denise Bressler, Casper College Foundation executive director. But, after some more thought and talking with those involved in three speakers series at the college — the Carl and Georgina Grosz Health Science Lecture Series, the Philip O. Doornbos Agriculture Lecture Series and the Roy Chamberlain Business Enrichment Lecture Series — the dream took hold and became a reality, a school news release said.

“Taking those three lecture series and combining them made sense because each donor wanted their lecture series to bring speakers with unique experiences to our students and community, and Mike Rowe certainly represents that,” Divine said.

“I like what he has to say, and his values align with a lot of Wyoming residents,” Bressler said.

“Mike’s appearance will also help promote Casper College as a tremendous resource right in our own backyard,” said Rachel Chadderdon, dean of the Casper College School of Business and Industry. “He elevates the trades to the status they deserve.”

“Our crumbling infrastructure, our widening skills gap, the disappearance of vocational education, and the stratospheric rise in college tuition — these are not problems,” Rowe said. “These are symptoms of what we value. And right now, we have to reconnect the average American with the value of a skilled workforce. Only then will the next generation aspire to do the work at hand.”

Rowe is best known as the creator and host of Discovery Channel’s “Dirty Jobs.” After many years as host of “Dirty Jobs,” which took him to every state in the nation, Rowe discovered that there was a disconnect in the country with the concept of “blue-collar workers.” Rowe found that blue-collar workers “didn’t resemble the unflattering, blue-collar workers often portrayed in the media. … Our society didn’t, and still doesn’t, have a trained workforce standing by or willing to fill the positions that actually exist.” In 2008, Rowe created the mikeroweWORKS Foundation to launch a national PR campaign for skilled labor.

According to the mikeroweWORKS Foundation website, the foundation has “granted or helped facilitate the granting of more than $5 million in Work Ethic scholarships and other like-minded programs or initiatives that also work to close the skills gap.”

Casper College provides both two-year degrees and certificate programs for many skilled trade areas, including automotive, auto body, construction, diesel, electronics, machine tool and welding, to name a few. In addition, the college also boasts a large number of degrees and certificates in the fields of healthcare and agriculture.

“Casper College provides the training needed to address the skills gap,” Chadderdon said. “Mike Rowe is a huge supporter of community colleges and the training programs they provide. Casper College faculty are experts in their field, and most came directly from industry, so they know firsthand what is changing.”

In addition to instructors being connected to the jobs in their teaching fields, many programs have advisory boards that provide feedback on curriculum design and content to ensure the training is aligned with industry needs, the school’s release said.

Because Casper College believes that Rowe’s message is important for everyone, both the community and its students, to hear, the college has arranged for Rowe to give a presentation to students the afternoon of his evening presentation at the Ford Wyoming Center.

“We wanted to ensure that every CC student has the opportunity to see Mike Rowe without charge,” Bressler said.

For the general public, tickets are still available for “An Evening with Mike Rowe.” His presentation will take place on Thursday, Oct. 26 at 7 p.m. Tickets are $35, $45, $65 and $125 per person and can be purchased at the box office by calling 307-577-3030 or online.

Lisa S. Icenogle authored the Casper College news release.