Students enrolled in a Central Wyoming College course are learning construction and facilities maintenance skills while building a facility for an organization with similar goals.
Andy Eckart, the instructor of CWC’s Facilities Maintenance Technology (FMT) program, is teaching building skills while his students construct a training facility for Red Feathered Eagle Vocational Rehabilitation (RFEVR).
“It’s a small building but a big project,” said Eckart of a drive-through coffee house his students are building for RFEVR, an Eastern Shoshone Tribal program that serves people with disabilities to help them acquire job skills and employment.
Once the nine-by-14 foot log-sided building is complete, it will be transported to a site near the Fort Washakie Learning Center, where appliances and equipment will be installed. RFEVR clients will obtain hands-on experience in operating a business while working as baristas at the Red Feathered Eagle Coffee House, which will open in June, said RFEVR Director Janet Weed.
With building materials supplied by the Eastern Shoshone Business Council, the CWC students involved in the project are learning how to frame, install windows and doors, siding and rafters, build floors and walls, as well as the finish work of the floors and walls. “It’s a pretty comprehensive project,” Eckart said.
The students are also taking an electrical principles course with master electrician Jesse Dorothy, gaining additional abilities while seeing the project through to completion. The plumbing will be completed by Eastern Shoshone employee Brian Standing Rock.
“In these classes, we want to do a project that helps students learn basic skills,” Eckart explained. “The students’ goals are met while I reach my course objectives. It’s really a good blend.”
Weed sought out the partnership with CWC and is happy the project provides training opportunities for both organizations. “We work with CWC to provide training to increase our clients’ employability,” she said. “We plan to be a viable business.”
RFEVR already had the espresso-making equipment that had been at a different location. It will be installed in the new coffee house, which Weed notes is centrally located near tribal government and health facilities. It will open each morning at 7 a.m.
The new business will be compliant with TERO-the Tribal Employment Rights Ordinance, she added. RFEVR also intends to purchase supplies from Brown Sugar Coffee Roastery.
In the past, Eckart’s students have constructed a shop building at the CWC Sinks Canyon Center which serves as the maintenance facility for the entire Sinks Canyon Center and serves its many programs, such as a lab for the FMT program, and facilities for the CWC Outdoor Education program.
Four of the six students enrolled in the courses are participating in CWC’s Second Wind, a U.S. Department of Labor-supported program that serves 18-21 year-olds who had been juvenile offenders.
The Second Wind participants also were enrolled in a workplace safety and tools course as well as human relations and freshman seminar classes. The students are also participating in service learning projects in the community and receive assistance from a case manager. In a six-month period, the Second Wind students will have one year of college coursework and a credential.
The other two are Pathfinder High School students who are taking core Facilities Maintenance courses while earning college credit through the CWC BOCHES program.
“The students are really taking a lot of pride in this,” Eckart said as the project comes to completion. “It’s nice to have partners with similar goals and projects that fit the mission of our program.”
The course ends May 24, though Eckart is offering a Construction and Maintenance course that begins May 28. It is an intensive 21-day program that combines building and remodeling instruction with communication and employability workshops. For more information, call (307) 332-3394 for more information.