Empow(HER) camps helping get girls excited about the construction trades

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School was not in session at the Minnesota North Eveleth campus on Monday. But it was still a bustle of activity in the back area, when a concrete truck pulled up.

That’s because the Empow(HER) Girls in the Trades camp was in full swing.

20 young women learned how a concrete slab comes together. They helped spread it out and level it.

“I really like hands on. I do not like being behind a desk at all,” shared Alyssa, from Ely. “I also like meeting new people.”

Sophia, from Virginia, added this about the trades, “It’s different. You’re constantly moving. Something new every time.”

This is the second year of the camps. And it’s even bigger, with two sessions.

The goal is to give these students a chance to try different trades, and perhaps help launch them into a career there. Or figure out that it really isn’t for them.

Debbie, from Duluth, said, “I was talking to counselors at my school. And I was confused about what I wanted to do. They suggested this camp. And I’m so excited I get to try these different trades.”

Last week Hibbing was the host of the first session. This week, Eveleth gets the chance.

Leo Lukas, one of the instructors, donated his time for the camp. “It’s a good way to encourage young people to get into the trades, which desperately need people.”

The program is a collaboration between JET, 218 Trades, and Minnesota North, and supported by other partners.

Angela Heikkila, an electrician by trade and Empow(HER) program leader, added, “If we can show them a piece of everything we are all about, and ideas about what’s out there, that’s what we want to do.”

According to the state of Minnesota, construction makes up about 5 percent of the jobs. That’s about 1 in 20.