There are a lot of benefits to learning hands-on and an SD91 flagship project aims to do exactly that with their students.
Project Heavy Duty has been running for 32 years and Darren Carpenter, District Career & Trades Programs Coordinator for Nechako Lakes School District said it is the longest running event of this nature in B.C.
The project aims to give interested high school students a hands-on experience using heavy machinery. The equipment is provided to SD91 by companies in and around Vanderhoof, Fraser Lake and Fort St. James.
Carpenter said SD91 gets anywhere between 15 to 20 pieces of equipment including a loader, crane, excavator, helicopter and more. As the equipment is donated for the two-day event, he added that there is no cost to SD91 in terms of machinery.
“There is a real need for heavy duty equipment operators in the area. This event is a chance for students to experience that equipment hands-on,” Carpenter said.
The fuel that is used by the machines during the event is donated by L & M Lumber Ltd. and Four Rivers Co-op.
“For instance when helicopters go for $2300 per hour you know that even if there is cost for companies, they want to come and participate as it feels worth that money,” he added.
There were 20 students that participated this year. Carpenter said during the two-days, these high-school students spend approximately one hour per machinery and learn about operation. They rotate through the day and get the experience of learning about a variety of equipment, he said.
“Similar to all our other projects in terms of agriculture or forest management or health, there is this desire to give back to the community, donate, spend time with kids in our communities. It is also an opportunity for kids to understand what they like and what they don’t like,” he added.
He said Project Heavy Duty is one of SD91’s biggest projects due to the amount equipment and people involved.
The program has been very successful, Darren said, adding that some operators who were showing the high school students how to use the equipment had previously been in the program.
“If they find that it is something that they like then we generally follow through more in depth,” he said.