PULLMAN, Wash. — High school teachers from five western states are rolling up their sleeves at Washington State University this week, hungry to get their hands messy as they participate in a unique summer school program.

In chef’s hats and starched white aprons, the 25 educators are becoming students once again to get hands-on lessons about everything from haute cuisine meal preparation to kitchen knife handling to personnel issues facing the hotel, restaurant and tourism industries.

Faculty and staff in WSU’s School of Hospitality Business Management (HBM) have spent months creating a relevant, yet fun, curriculum especially for this group–members of the nationwide Hospitality Business Alliance (HBA). The HBA, founded by the American Motel and Lodging Association and the National Restaurant Association (NRA), fosters hospitality education at the high school level. In their home high schools, their students, who are interested in careers in hospitality, participate in ProStart, the school-to-career youth program of the National Restaurant Association Education Foundation. WSU is one of only eight locations to host cohorts of high school teachers affiliated with HBA this summer.

“We’re excited to give these educators from Washington, Idaho, California, Montana and Wyoming a taste of our hospitality program at WSU,” said Terry Umbreit, school director and current president of the Washington Restaurant Association’s Education Foundation.

“The visiting teachers at this summer institute will learn about our outstanding hospitality program at WSU and also see close-up what an important role they do and can play in helping their students bridge the gap from high school to college and then on to careers,” said WSU HBM culinary educator Gene Fritz. “They are so into this university experience, in fact, that many of them are even living in campus residence halls this week!”

According to the agenda, their busy days start around 7:30 a.m. when Boyd’s Coffee will host a breakfast for the educators, and some days don’t end until 9 p.m. They will sit through classes on customer service, recipe costing and lodging topics led by WSU HBM professors.

Executives from the NRA and the WRA are spending time with the group. Bill Nolan, manager of worksite relations of the NRA Educational Foundation, will address the group at breakfast during the final day of the institute, and Mark Miller, WRA state workforce development coordinator, is joining the group all week.

In the HBM full-sized restaurant kitchen in Todd Hall, Chef Fritz will lecture on food safety and sanitation, and lead the teachers through hands-on “moist heat” and “dry heat” cooking methodology preparation. “Moist” includes such cooking methods as steaming, poaching, simmering and stewing, while “dry” covers grilling, sautéing, roasting and deep fat frying. They do get to feast on and savor everything they prepare, Fritz said.

One evening, the group will travel to neighboring Moscow, Idaho, to tour and dine at Applebee’s Restaurant. On a half-day field trip, they will travel to Spokane and Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. In Spokane, they will get a firsthand look at the renovation of the city’s famous downtown Davenport Hotel and will have a chance to interview several WSU HBM graduates who work at the landmark. They will meet more WSU HBM alumni working at the region’s acclaimed, four-star Coeur d’Alene Resort.

“By the end of the week, they will have a good feel for what our hospitality students experience at WSU, and beyond, as graduates of the program working in the largest industry in the world–hospitality,” Umbreit said.

The WSU hospitality program, formerly known as Hotel and Restaurant Administration, was just re-designated as a “school” and changed its name to “Hospitality Business Management” earlier this month. The program is 70 years old and a leader among hospitality programs around the world. Students in the program earn a four-year baccalaureate degree from an accredited business program and develop special management skills tailored to the hospitality industry.

They must earn at least 1,000 internship hours to graduate. By commencement, the average student has received more than four job offers. Students in the WSU HBM program have the opportunity to study abroad at the program’s sister site in Brig, Switzerland. They can join several student clubs that give them leadership and teamwork experience in producing large-scale events, such as the annual, fundraising fall Winefest, and intimate, black-tie dinners and events for university administrators and special guests.