The Cincinnati Home and Garden Show is one of the first opportunities for winter-weary Cincinnatians to dream big about turning their yards into a summertime oasis. Companies pull out all the stops to get visitors to stop and see their capabilities. For Midwest Stone Scapes and R & K Developers, their go-big strategy also created a learning opportunity for Butler Tech Construction students.
“This display has been a lot of work, but it’s all been fun,” said student Austin Thom. “Every time I look at it, I still say ‘Wow! I helped build this.’”
Students were immersed in building what instructor Donnie Kelley describes as “one of the largest displays at the event.” With the beams and truces students built in place, students were free to learn from their mentors in other areas, such as carpentry, plumbing, wiring and stone laying.
“Even though we’re learning a lot of these skills in class, there’s still a lot the workers from Stone Scapes are nice enough to teach us,“ said student Brandon Steele. “I’ve gotten the chance to learn how to work on the roof and measure out the supports, something I really like doing now.”
“I love this experience for students because this is the perfect opportunity for them to step out of the classroom and into real, on-site training to learn from industry professionals,” Kelley said.
For many of the students, this is their chance to further explore a career they plan on pursuing after graduation. “My dad was in construction, and in watching him, it became something I also wanted to do,” said Steele. “I want to own my own business where I make all the designs and manage projects. Being here seeing all of this is nice because I get to see how all of the managers direct us through all the design and lay work.”
More importantly, students were able to walk away from this project with a sense of pride in their work and stronger bonds with one another.
“We’re bonding together through this process, learning to work with each other, cooperate, and really getting to know one another, which is important in this line of work,” Thom said.
“They’re going to be able to come down here with their parents and say ‘Hey, I laid that stone, I set that truce, I drilled those holes to put those wires and bolts through.’ It’s really to showcase them,” said Kelley.