BILLINGS — Four months ago, students in Build Montana’s initial pilot program were just starting classroom work, with the idea that eventually they’d get real-world construction and machinery training.
That day came Friday during the program's 'Dig It Day' at Knife River on Billings' West End, which also doubled as Build Montana's graduation. Three students received certificates of completion, and two already have futures lined up.
“A couple of weeks ago, we actually got a call saying (Knife River) has two positions open if you guys want them," said O'Shay Birdinground, who will graduate from Billings Skyview next weekend. "It’s really awesome because I thought I was going to be stuck at WalMart for the summer, and just to build on the opportunities that were given to me, it’s great.”
"I'm super excited," said Build Montana lead instructor John Hurd. "As a former educator myself, when you see the fruits of the labor, this is why we do what we do.”
Everyone involved in the pilot program - from educators and administrators to the numerous companies donating to the process - say the launch semester surpassed their expectations. All are hoping many more students take the opportunity going forward, to fill a growing trade job need.
“It's just a great opportunity for these students and young people to learn what’s available to them with effort," Hurd said.
“It’s going to be awesome to have this line of work in my back pocket because it’s definitely going to help me in the future," Birdinground added.
He and William Afraid Of Bear will start at Knife River in June.