Employee Spotlight: Kate Wurster, Columbia Gorge STEM Hub Coordinator

Kate Wurster photo Kate Wurster was recently hired as the STEM Hub Coordinator at CGESD in October, 2022 as a natural fit, with her love of language and communication and her extensive background in education.

As a Fulbright Scholar with degrees in German and Education, Kate first got involved in education professionally when she taught English to primary and secondary students in Hamburg, Germany. After that, her path progressed through community colleges in Maine and in Colorado. Moving to the Gorge with her husband Pete and son Chase, her skills and talent led her to Hood River Valley High School where she served as the Career Connected Learning Coordinator.  In this role, Kate collaborated with CTE teachers at the high school to build robust post-secondary pathways between HRVHS and CGCC, by creating meaningful workplace-based experiences for students.  Her engagement with CGCC led her to new professional opportunities at the College, where she continued to champion the value of CTE programming to help serve local workforce and employment needs.  

Kate believes in the power and importance of good communication in all aspects of her life – personal and professional. She is fluent in written and spoken German and hosts a monthly German language conversation group called Stammtisch at Crush Cider Cafe in Hood River.  She is also inspired by nature and embraces all that the Gorge has to offer – trail running, skiing, hiking, stand up paddle boarding and exploring the beautiful landscape the Gorge has to offer. 

Kate’s aspirations include travelling and living abroad with her family for a couple of years so that they can fully immerse themselves in another language and culture.  When asked what her favorite meal would be to share with her favorite celebrity, she had no hesitation in replying, “I would love to have had dinner with Ruth Bader Ginsburg or with Michelle Obama – sharing a Mediterranean dish with chicken kabobs and tzatziki, pita bread and hummus, falafel, and a delicious Turkish coffee would be (would have been) amazing!”

Kate and family in RockiesWurster family photo








In her Coordinator role, Kate’s primary focus is in Career Connected Learning initiatives (career awareness, exploration, preparation & training) at the middle and high school (bridging post-secondary) levels.  She thoroughly enjoys her role of “matchmaker” within the STEM sector, stating,  “I find it most rewarding to work with educators to identify their career-connected learning needs.   I then determine what the best fit (which company and/or professional mentor) will best to supplement the educator’s curriculum with real-world expertise and context.   The matchmaking step involves networking with industry contacts to open the pathways where the needs meet.”

Kate is eager to collaborate with educators, students and families, as well as community & industry partners in the region to provide opportunity and access to Career Connected Learning activities and programming. She has found the Gorge to be an amazingly dynamic and rewarding place to work in Career Connected Learning, commenting, “When it comes to leveraging industry/ education connections, for a relatively small and rural region, the diversity of industry represented here, and the willingness for industry to engage and support local youth, is very impressive! “

Kate’s major work initiatives for the STEM Hub include the College and Career Expo and the Advanced Manufacturing Educator Externship. Last year’s College and Career Expo event had approximately 150 students representing 11 different high schools in the region, including WA schools in Klickitat & Skamania Counties.  The Advanced Manufacturing Educator Externship is a 3-day, experiential externship focused on the Advanced Manufacturing sector (including a hands-on introduction to CGCC’s Advanced Manufacturing program by the College’s lead instructors and site visits to a variety of local manufacturing employers in Hood River & Wasco County on days 2 & 3).

The GTA provides a crucial link to the local high tech industry for the STEM Hub. It provides a platform for networking opportunities with local industry partners that is essential for the work of Career Connected Learning in the region. Plus, industry awareness around the work of the STEM Hub is necessary for the success of the STEM Hub’s programs, and the GTA provides the link to leverage the participation and support of local tech companies.



400 E Scenic Dr. #207
The Dalles, OR 97058

The Columbia Gorge STEM Hub is a program of the Columbia Gorge Education Service District, serving as the “connective tissue” between families, students, educators and industry throughout the Gorge’s five Oregon counties (Hood River, Gilliam, Sherman, Wasco and Wheeler) as well as Klickitat and Skamania counties in Washington (through partnership with Career Connect Southwest WA).

The STEM Hub is a small but mighty team of three, focused on increasing equitable access to quality STEM experiences in our region. The STEM Hub walks its talk, modeling its goals of equity and quality of life for its employees by offering a hybrid work schedule that allows flexibility and a healthy work-life balance.

To learn more about all that the Hub has to offer, visit the website at: https://www.gorgestem.org/