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The “Build Montana” program will be added to the Montana school system



Great Falls, Montana – To help students succeed in the construction business, Great Falls Public Schools is introducing a new program as part of their Career and Technical Education curriculum.

Under the District’s Build Montana initiative, students will operate heavy machinery to gain practical training.

The goal of Build Montana, a collaboration between the MCA Education Foundation, the Montana Contractors Association, and the Montana Equipment Dealers’ Association, is to inspire enthusiasm and advance careers in construction.

The class will be taught by Joe Wilkins, who is the Paris Gibson Education Center’s Teacher for Industrial Arts at the moment.

“I want them to have not a job but a career,” Wilkins said. “I feel the construction industry is very rich in careers and good careers, and I’d like to keep our home talents home.”

GFPS is collaborating with various partners on the program, including:

• Torgerson’s
• RDO Equipment
• Central Plumbing, Heating, Excavation
• Tri-State Truck and Equipment
• Sletten Construction
• Pacific Steel and Recycling
• Tractor and Equipment
• Dick Anderson Construction

Given GFPS’s financial and resource constraints, the partners will be responsible for supplying the training equipment for the students.

Matt Hoyer, manager of Sletten Construction Equipment, outlined the significance of teamwork in a program like this.

“I think we have a lot of horsepower in the Great Falls community with the partners that we have acquired for this,” Hoyer. “There’s unlimited opportunities for travel, mostly worldwide with the companies that are here.”

Nine students are expected to begin the program in January, according to GFPS. Seniors will be given preference, although juniors may also be taken into consideration, according to officials.

Additionally, students would get one semester of credit.

Wilkins states that students will spend sixty hours in the classroom. Additionally, 60 hours will be devoted to the online training program offered by John Deere University.

We’ll be working hands-on with champion partners for sixty-four hours.

Additionally, GFPS and Great Falls College MSU are discussing the potential of permitting dual credit.

Senior Dayton Liscum from Great Falls High School, who has a background in farming and agriculture, has collaborated with Wilkins and shown interest in the initiative.

“With my CDL and everything, this is very big for me, especially in my senior year.,” Liscum said. “I could go on to any place I want to with this program, so this would help me out a bunch.”

Wilkins stated he believes a program like this would benefit the community as a whole in addition to the district and the students. It is anticipated to begin in the spring semester.

“Our community gets an educated workforce,” Wilkins said. “Our school district gets to work with some very great talent and get to work with our community members to bring to the table some potential employees that are fit for our community and can easily dovetail into the community careers that are out there.”

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