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Middle school students learn construction trades


Thanks to a Prairie Meadows grant, United Way’s Bob Brown is helping sixth and seventh graders from low-income families attend a summer day camp to learn about future careers in the construction trades.

At the Target Alliance Summer Camp, the students visit eight different apprenticeship training centers with local labor unions: Carpenters, Painters , Lineman, Operating Engineers, Ironworkers, Electrical Workers, Sheet Metal Workers, and the Plumbers & Steamfitters. At each training center, they learn about future apprenticeship programs, career opportunities and do a hands on project.

For example, the students built a tool box at the carpenters’ training center, Then they take it to the Painters and paint it.  Campers ride in a high lift which extends to about 50 feet, and wear Lineman gear while climbing a small pole. They operate a backhoe and dig a hole while at Operating Engineers. Campers build a dimmer switch which will plug into any wall plug and be able to dim the lighting in the room at Electrical Workers. At the Sheet Metal Workers, they get to build a dust pan or a small tool box out of sheet metal, and at the Ironworkers they have their named spelled out in welding by the instructor. They learn about doing some plumbing with a plastic pipe at the Plumbers and Steamfitters.

After their visit at camp, many of the children said “this is the best camp I’ve ever attended.”

Brown says, “Unfortunately, most students no longer get the opportunity to do these types of projects in school. As these campers learn about different trade programs, it is an opportunity to learn about a lifelong learning career pathway that pays a livable wage along with benefits.”

A big thanks to the following local unions:

  • Carpenters #106 
  • Painters #246 
  • Lineman #55 
  • Operating Engineers #234 
  • Ironworkers #67 
  • Electrical Workers #347 
  • Sheet Metal Workers #45 
  • Plumbers & Steamfitters #33


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