state utility contractors hosts 4th annual equipment rodeo

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CAGC Member State Utility Hosts 4th Annual Equipment Rodeo for Over 120 Union County High School Students

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Long-time Carolinas AGC member, State Utility Contractors of Monroe, NC hosted their 4th Annual Equipment Rodeo held out at Porter Ridge HS in Union County on Tuesday, 05/07/19, from 8:20am-3pm.  Several Union County schools participated in the event, with over 100 students attending.  Groups of students visited heavy equipment stations where they had the opportunity to operate Bobcat mini excavators to dig holes and then back filling the holes with skid-steer loaders.  Participating students also had the chance to test their skills behind the controls of a skid loader with the forks attachment while navigating through an obstacle course.  Dr. Kim Fisenne, Principal of Porter Ridge High School, even joined in on the day’s fun-packed activities and had the opportunity to operate one of the excavators while her students cheered her on!

Kris Hannah, Marketing and Recruiting Manager for State Utility who has been with the company for ten years, organized this highly successful educational event geared toward providing a creative and unique spin on project-based learning for the participating Union County students.  Bobcat of Monroe, North Carolina was an event sponsor, providing all the onsite equipment the students operated while at the Equipment Rodeo.

When asked to explain the significance of companies like State Utility stepping up to the plate to provide students with more hands-on opportunities to learn about jobs in the construction industry while simultaneously offering them functional operational experience Kris Hannah, stated, “In a world where upcoming generations have the best technology at their fingertips daily, how do you get them to engage in the wonderful opportunities that the construction industry has to offer? How do you get them to become excited about a possible career in the construction industry? At State Utility Contractors, we have found that giving students the chance to hop on and operate a big piece of construction equipment does the trick. For the past 4 years, we have held equipment rodeos where high school students get a go at operating several types of construction equipment. Both the students and the teachers absolutely love it, and they instantly become open and interested in learning about the construction industry and the opportunities available.

Attending Union County School District students were also accompanied by their CTE instructors, and every teacher onsite during the event had overwhelmingly positive comments when asked about how much fun the kids were having and how much value they saw in companies providing opportunities like the State Utility Equipment Rodeo.  Jonathan Deese, CTE and Agriculture Studies Instructor at Forest Hills High School said, “The students are having a blast and I think a lot more companies should do things like this and get more involved with the students at their level.  Hands-on experience is what Career and Technical Education is all about and our group of students absolutely love and benefit more from activities just like this.”

Mitchell Bryant, CTE and Agriculture Studies Instructor at Parkwood High School, also stated, “This is an excellent opportunity for more our students to explore different types of construction careers and we appreciate State Utility organizing this event.  I wish that a lot of other companies would offer kids more experiences like the Equipment Rodeo to provide them with more real-life, hands-on experiences.  This is a chance for our students to operate heavy equipment and really understand the jobs they’ll be potentially stepping into after graduation.

Brian Davis, Interim CTE Director for Union County Schools, was also onsite for the day’s activities and had the opportunity to observe the students having fun operating the equipment while also learning about safety procedures and obtaining useful industry-related work experience.  Mr. Davis commented, “The Union County School System couldn’t be more thrilled that State Utility Contractors is so dedicated to providing educational opportunities to our local students by inviting us to participate in their annual Equipment Rodeo.  We are so grateful to employers like State Utility and trade associations like CAGC for taking time to be here with our students onsite to provide hands-on learning opportunities for our students that they can use in future work-related situations.

The participating Union County students also wanted to express their gratitude to State Utility for organizing this exciting and educational day!  Graduating senior, Joe Barnes of Sun Valley High School in Monroe, North Carolina, offered his endorsement of the event by saying, “This has been a great day, it’s really been a lot of fun!  They brought out the big guns and set up mini excavators and skid steers for us to drive and it’s always a good time having State Utility out here to teach kids how to get their hands dirty.  This is my third year being at the Equipment Rodeo so it’s always fun to see them out here at the event.

Because our industry is facing a critical labor shortage all across the board, it is imperative that more construction firms get actively involved in creating meaningful opportunities for Carolinas region students to help them discover the amazing benefits and countless jobs waiting for them in the construction and trade industry.  Through educational partnerships and outreach efforts designed to promote construction career awareness to future generations of workers, such as the Equipment Rodeo, Carolinas AGC member firms like State Utility Contractors continue to set the standard on how we all need to work together to build the future of our industry!

For more information on how you can get involved in next year’s State Utility Equipment Rodeo as an event sponsor or to request that your school is included, please contact Kris Hannah of State Utility Contractors at (704) 351-9392 or via email at khannah@sucontractors.com.

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