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FFA students learn construction and provide low-income homes with tiny house project

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Posted at 12:49 AM, Apr 05, 2024

BILLINGS - The Tiny House Construction Project brings kids together to build a house in four days.

The buildings can be used for low-income housing.

It's about teaching the kids construction during the FFA convention at the MetraPark Expo Center in Billings.

FFA members get a chance to work on building a small home and they learn a variety of skills.

"Definitely something awesome that I learned was when I never knew that you had to do copper to a hot water tan,” said Kody Gurr, a Frenchtown FFA member.

"I have learned about cutting better lines on boards that keep them the right length,” said Finn Kelly, a student at Missoula Big Sky.

An estimated 300 FFA kids will help build the house during the five-day state convention in Billings,

"Create more tradesmen because our country is screaming for people that have skills that can build things,” said Tom Andres, an FFA advisor in Missoula. “But then it's also generating affordable homes. So those are the two main objectives of the project."

Andres is also an agriculture education teacher.

He has taught for 32 years and has worked in construction for 40 years.

He brought those two skills together on the project.

Andres has developed a kit with a shipping container that has all the materials to build a 160-square-foot home

"A lot of these people that are living on the streets, there's just no place that they can afford to live,” Andres said.

This week, the FFA kids are building the very first home prototype.

It can be economical for schools, as Andres envisions a nonprofit paying for the materials and students from around the state supplying the labor.

"Learn those problem-solving skills so that they can fix things and solve the problems in their daily life,” Andres said. “Even if they don't choose to go into the trades."

And the students understand the potential importance of this work.

"I feel like it's really going to help people across Montana and across the U.S.,” Gurr said. ‘There's so many people out there that can always just use a nice warm place to be during the winter and it's just always nice to have a roof over your head."

"You drive around Missoula or a lot of towns during the summertime. You see a lot of people just sitting on the street,” Finn said. “And I'd say this would definitely be a big help being off the street."