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Build Montana celebrates graduating high school students

Build Montana celebrates graduating Great Falls students
Posted at 9:15 AM, May 29, 2024

GREAT FALLS — Build Montana is helping kids get into the construction industry with valuable experience already under their belts.

“Today we have the inaugural graduation class of our Build Montana program here in Great Falls,” said Barry Houser, director of the Montana Contractors Association Education Foundation.

Build Montana started in Billings in 2020 with the Montana Contractors Association Education Foundation and continues to expand to other areas of the state. On Tuesday, they celebrated the first seven students to graduate from the program in the Electric City.

“This program gives high school students a chance to learn about and actually operate construction’s heavy equipment,” Houser said.

The showcase had students showing off their skills on the heavy machinery, from digging and dumping to neatly picking up a hardhat and placing it in a bucket. Build Montana is giving kids experience that would otherwise take years to learn with a contractor.

“For an actual high school student to have this opportunity where they can learn about operation, maintenance, parts identification, they'll graduate with skills that most it'll take most folks years to acquire if they're actually in the job already,” Houser said.

Numerous members of the program have already extended job offers to the students.

Build Montana celebrates graduating Great Falls students
Build Montana celebrates graduating Great Falls students

With Montana’s aging infrastructure, the construction industry is excited to have more workers in the field.

“To be able to provide them an experience in high school and show them a career path, not just a job, but a career path,” Houser said, “…They can create something that's tangible and long after they've left a job site, they can turn back and say, Hey, I built that.”

The students were also thrilled with how the program was held and were excited to show off what they learned.

“This is like one of the awesomest things I've ever been, like, honestly offered,” said Khristian McMunn, one of the graduating students in the program, “And I took it instantly because we get to run equipment. You get to basically go see people that have been working for in this field for over like 40 years.”

The inaugural year of Build Montana here in Great Falls has gone incredibly well, and the program is excited to see what next year will bring.

To learn more, click here to visit the Build Montana site.