Every year about 24 students from high schools in the School District 91 area take part in Project Heavy Duty. This project allows the students to get close up and learn about all the heavy machinery that they could operate if they pursue a future in the business.
This valuable exposure helps garner interest in the forestry and mining industry.
The project allows the students to operate a wide range of industrial machinery such as skidders, loaders, feller-bunchers, gravel trucks, excavators, back-hoes, graders, and bob-cats.
The students get to try out all the equipment at the Striegler gravel pit and participate in an active workplace scenario. The students dig up the dirt, then fill the trucks, then drive the trucks around the site, then dumping the dirt and finally flattening and spreading it around.
“I’ve been involved with project heavy duty for the last seven years as the district coordinator,” said Darren Carpenter. district coordinator and Vanderhoof City Councillor. “This is our flagship project, we do seven of these throughout the year.”
Project Heavy Duty has been running for 27 years thanks to its sponsors who are invaluable to the program. This is the second half of the Heavy Duty project, last month the students got to visit Endako mines and learn about the workplace there and they usually check out L&M Lumber as well.
“Co-op and Endako mines donate the fuel… so yesterday we put in 1,400 litres of fuel into the various machines,” said Carpenter. “So you put a dollar tag on all of this and there’s no way we could ever remotely do this without the sponsors. “
Each year local partners in the community, contractors and businesses are asked to donate their equipment and instructors who work the equipment donate their time to teaching the students.
The students get to try out each of the equipment for about an hour, they get a safety talk and instruction from the seasoned professionals and then they get to work.
“The coordinators at the school level decide what kids can come,” said Carpenter. “We can’t just bring a class group out here, we want students who have an inclination for heavy equipment. Some kids just don’t know what they want to do so this lets them come out here and try it out.”
As to which machines the kids want to try out most, “anything new and shiny is a big hit” said one instructor. “It’s great to show the next generation, it’s better than working! Most days anyway.”
As for the students, one had said that the equipment is easy to operate but hard to pull off. All the machines look easy to manage but there’s so much technical work and skills that only come with time.
The school district would like to thank their many supporters and partners for their generous donations.