After almost four years of planning and preparation, a new educational opportunity is announced today in Bucksport, Maine.

You can get a degree in Pulp and Paper Technology and be prepared to replace those who will retire soon from the industry.

Verso Paper in Bucksport teams up with two partners in education to help ensure there are trained and qualified people to fill their shoes when they move on.

Verso Spokesman Bill Cohen says a person can attend Eastern Maine Community College for two years to earn the skills and degree, but high school students in Bucksport get an even better deal.

"As a high school student within RSU 25, they can start in their junior year taking classes and when they graduate from Bucksport High School, they can go just one more year to Eastern Maine Community College and come away with and Associate's degree," states Cohen.

Cohen says in a few years Verso Paper is looking at a real potential brain drain from the production side of the mills as folks start to retire.

Sarah Wood is a Process Engineer at the Bucksport Verso mill, and prior to working there she did some adjunct teaching at Maine Maritime Academy and she'll be teaching some courses as part of the new education training program, according to Cohen.

For more information students should contact the Bucksport High School Guidance Office and for others interested in earning an Associates degree in Pulp and Paper Technology contact Eastern Maine Community College in Bangor.