The North Central Oklahoma Home Builders Association (NCOHBA) is ensuring students in Meridian Technology Center’s construction trades programs have the skills – and the equipment – they need to go from the classroom to the worksite safely.
Boots on the Ground, a program developed by NCOHBA provides every student enrolled in Meridian’s Air Conditioning and Refrigeration, Carpentry, Electrical Technology, and Energy and Power programs with a pair of steel-toed work boots. In addition to sizing students for boots, Atwoods Home and Ranch offers the association boots at a discounted rate. This is the fifth year that these entities have provided students with equipment.
Electrical Technology instructor Wayne Ford indicated that boots from this initiative would be the first pair of industry-specific footwear for many students.
“Boots on the Ground ensures that every student has proper footwear for the work they will be doing,” Ford said. “When students move from the classroom to the job site, they generally are required to have a lot of their tools. Depending on the industry and the equipment they need, that can range anywhere from $500 to $700. Not having to add a good pair of workboots to your startup costs is a big benefit.”
James Kelly, a student in Ford’s program, is already working in the industry and echoed his instructor’s comments saying, “It’s expensive to go to work. Not everyone has the financial resources to get everything they need when starting out.”
Kelly is fortunate that the company he works for, Bizmark Electric, provides workers with safety equipment, but as NCOHBA board president Desiree Jenkins knows, that’s not the case for everyone entering the construction industry.
“That’s one of the reasons we started this program,” she explained. “We knew the home builders association could provide students with what they need to literally get their feet on the ground in the construction industry – a pair of construction work boots.”
This is the first year for the NCOHAB to provide students in Energy and Power with protective footwear. With the addition of the school’s Lineworker career path, Jenkins said it was a natural fit for the association to support.
“This program may not be directly tied to home building, but lineworkers are essential to our trade. Without them, people won’t have power.”
Jenkins and William Edmond, Assistant Manager at Stillwater’s Atwoods location, are working with Energy and Power instructor Jeff Littau to provide students in the Lineworker program with specialized boots suited for their industry.
“This is a great thing for these students,” Littau remarked. “Safety is essential in this industry. Having the right footwear is a part of that. I know the students are appreciative of this investment in their training.”
Supporting Future Home Builders
Giving to Meridian’s construction trades students is a part of NCOHBA’s history with Meridian. For more than 30 years, the association has provided scholarships to construction trades students who qualified to compete in the national SkillsUSA competition. Students used their scholarship money to offset expenses related to attending the national contest.
NCOHBA wanted to create a philanthropic opportunity for the association to impact every student in Meridian’s construction trades programs. With that, the Boots on the Ground program was born. NCOHBA partnered with Stillwater’s local Atwoods Home and Ranch to purchase the boots at cost.
Sizing is now complete, and Atwoods will place the order. As soon as boots are received, NCOHBA and Atwoods will arrange to deliver them to students.
For Jenkins and other board members, the Boots on the Ground program is not only about providing students with the tools they need for the job but also about offering a network for their next step.
“Students in the construction trades and Energy and Power programs at Meridian are our future members,” Jenkins said. “We want them to know that the North Central Oklahoma Home Builders Association is here to support them and their career in the construction industry.”
The North Central Oklahoma Home Builders Association, previously known as Stillwater Home Builders Association, is a professional organization representing those individuals and companies dedicated to providing quality housing and industry services in Stillwater and the surrounding areas.
The association strives to be a recognized leader in the building industry and provide members with opportunities for education, professional development, networking, fellowship and community involvement. For more information, visit ncohba.com.