CROW— For students in Crow High School’s construction class, giving back is a “win-win.”
And they’re just one of several Career Technical Education programs around rural Lane County receiving funds from KeyBank to construct outdoor sheds for mobile home parks run by St. Vincent de Paul.
The “shed-ucation” initiative, funded and supported by St. Vincent de Paul of Lane County, works to support residents of St. Vinnie’s mobile home parks by providing storage sheds built by students. The sheds will be placed in the parks to support low-income families that live there.
Through the program, students get hands-on experience, local employers and labor pools get workers with building and construction skills, and mobile home parks get facility upgrades.
“We need carpenters. We need electricians. We need plumbers. We need all those trades to be filled, and we just don’t have enough kids coming through in those vocational trainings,” said Terry McDonald, the executive director of St. Vinnie’s.
According to the National Center for Education statistics, vocational training program enrollment dropped 18% during the pandemic and is still struggling to recover.
“By giving them the opportunity in an educational program setting like this, to actually be in school and learn some of these skills, will help us develop those trades in the future,” McDonald said.
The initiative allows low-income families to be eligible for new high-quality sheds to secure bicycles, landscaping equipment and other items not suitable for storage inside their homes.
“It seemed like a good way to bring the community together,” McDonald said.
St. Vincent staff knew mobile home parks were in need of new storage sheds, he said. Instead of just buying them, Lane County students are getting hands-on learning.
Last week, St. Vincent de Paul formally accepted a $150,000 grant from KeyBank for the “shed-ucation” initiative in front of a shed built by Crow students — the program extends to other schools in rural Lane, like Creswell, Cottage Grove and Pleasant Hill.
The funds gifted by KeyBank will be used to offset the costs of materials, transportation, and labor associated with the construction and delivery of new sheds and the demolition and removal of existing sheds.
“We enjoy and appreciate the ability to donate meaningfully and see our communities thrive,” said Josh Lyons, KeyBank’s market president for Oregon. “When we talk about what this specific program is doing in terms of providing skills, education, and confidence for these kids throughout middle school and high school and preparing them for careers outside of high school, it is incredibly exciting for us.”
For Crow CTE teacher Kyle Kishen, the lifelong skills his students are learning are key to the project’s success.
“They’re smart and they’re working hard,” Kishen said. “Kids are really, really capable.”
Students can also gain a pre-apprenticeship certificate to advance their standing with apprenticeship programs — setting them up for success to pursue a career in construction — an excellent opportunity for the nearly 40% of Crow students who enter the workforce after graduation.
Principal Kevin Rodemack said he’s happy to see more investment in CTE.
“Our kids are learning so much,” Rodemack said. “Not everyone is going to college. And that’s okay.”
For Hannah Hanson, a student in Kishen’s class, the program means taking things into her own hands when it comes to construction. “I think it could be a useful life skill, if you need to redo your roof. You can be like, ‘I learned this in high school,’ or even go into the trades later down the line.”