"Ultimately the future of industry in Louisiana is dependent on this up and coming generation. The only way we can do the work we do is the people, and finding those people starts at the high school level."

In celebration of Careers in Construction Month, ABC Pelican, along with 60 construction and industry companies and businesses, hosted about 1,000 high school students from across south Louisiana at the Lamar Dixon Expo Center to learn about the career possibilities that are available in construction and industry.

This was the largest Build Your Future Day that ABC Pelican has hosted in its chapter history.

Sarah Varner with Brown and Root Industrial Services represented her company at Build Your Future Day 2019. Varner is a third-generation construction worker who said industry in Louisiana has never been bigger and better.

"Ultimately the future of industry in Louisiana is dependent on this up and coming generation. The only way we can do the work we do is the people, and finding those people starts at the high school level. This event allows them to see how industry can be done from a craft all the way to the engineer."

The educational event was filled with approximately 60 construction-related demonstrations and exhibits.

Briar Lane, a junior at Doyle High School, attended Build Your Future. He is also the son of an electrician and said he couldn’t wait to get home to tell his dad what he had experienced.

"Today I saw that you can be good at something, and that something can be construction," Lane said.

The ninth through twelfth grade students safely interacted with various pieces of heavy equipment and simulators so that they can better understand how the equipment operates. They also viewed power tool demonstrations.

Hoyt Ponder is a welding, electrical, agriculture and core teacher at Albany High School. He brought his students to today.

"On our way to Build Your Future, I told my students that this experience would raise their awareness of the job opportunities that are out there for them," Ponder shared. "At Albany, we focus on welding and electrical, and at Build Your Future, my students get to see firsthand pipefitting, instrumentation, scaffolding and heavy equipment demonstrations, so that they can get a well-rounded view of what construction is."

Austin Heap, an eleventh-grade student at Dutchtown High School, hopes to be part of the construction workforce in the future.

"I don't know what craft I want to go in to, but I hope to find out today."

In addition to the demonstrations, several local contractors set up on-site performance verification trailers to show students the various components to crafts such as electrical, instrumentation and pipefitting. Tony Gulino of ISC Constructors was one of the contractor representatives at Build Your Future.

"I enjoy teaching kids one craft, and that’s electrical," Gulino said. "I am living proof that a singular family member can change the trajectory of a whole family tree simply by learning a craft. The electrical trade changed our entire family."

Louisiana is the state with the fifth highest demand for craft professionals, so the need to recruit the next generation of craft professionals is great.

Savannah Partrich, a sophomore at Livionia High School, said she learned that industry has job opportunities available for her.

"So many companies came to talk to high school students like me," Partrich said. "I've learned that there is a lot of opportunity in the construction industry for me."

One of the core missions of ABC Pelican is to introduce young Louisianans like Partrich and Heap and Lane to the countless long-term, well-paying career opportunities available in industry.

This was Hunter Reid's second time to attend Build Your Future. Reid, a core and welding teacher at Covington High School, brought his students.

"I told my students that multiple industry career opportunities are represented at this event," Reid said. "My students aren't looking to go to college. Instead they are going straight to work, so this is a great opportunity to get a head start at what job they want after high school."

The Pelican Chapter of Associated Builders and Contractors Inc. (ABC) was incorporated in 1980 and covers 52 parishes in Louisiana. It is a diverse, non-profit, trade association of contractors, subcontractors, suppliers and industry professionals who have joined together to advance the construction industry by supporting their mission, to promote and protect the Merit Shop Philosophy and the principles of the free enterprise system in the construction industry.

Contributed by Pelican Chapter, Associated Builders and Contractors, Inc.