MISSOULA – It’s construction season here in Western Montana and over the weekend some workers used a day of rest as an opportunity to inspire the next generation of journeymen and women at the ‘Missoula Under Construction event.
It’s not often that young boys and girls get the opportunity to control excavators, but for the first annual “Missoula Under Construction” event, Jackson Contracting partnered with the Missoula Food Bank to set up dozens of heavy machines and vehicles at Fort Missoula Regional Park.
What young kid doesn’t love dump trucks and cranes? Hattie Redmon of Jackson Contracting says that the goal was to inspire the next generation of contractors and to show that the trades aren’t just for the boys.
“We could introduce them and expose them to the construction industry as a whole to get them excited about it. Right now, the construction industry is really short of skilled workers," Redmon said.
"And so we really want to excite kids about their opportunity that they have available to them. We also don’t like hearing that it’s just for the boys. Girls can be in construction to and totally kick butt doing it!" she added.
From scissor lift rides to laying down brick, there were numerous hands-on opportunities to work with the experts in their craft on Saturday. Volunteer Kara Maul said the most inspiring part was seeing how kids opened up with that engagement.
“But I think what I found the most special is the ones that enter really shy, hiding behind mom or dad. And then on the way out, they are just all smiles and they’re running through," Maul said. "You can tell that they just had an awesome experience”
"We’re just really grateful to all the businesses that made this possible. Jackson Contractor Group spearheaded this and brought everyone together. A pretty incredible thing to do for our local food bank," said Missoula Food Bank director Jessica Allred. "Last year we served one-in-five 5 people in Missoula County so it’s at a time where we really need the support, so we’re really grateful,"
The $5 entrance fee was donated to the Missoula Food Bank, which hopes to keep working with Jackson Contractors to make this an annual showcase of the trades.
Jackson Contractor Group worked with the Missoula Food Bank last year by building their new facility.