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Gadsden Technical Institute starts a Future Builders of America chapter

The Tallahassee Builders Association recently officially recognized Gadsden Technical Institute and Crossroad Charter Academy in Quincy as the first Future Builders of America Chapter in the area.

Despite the incredible growth of Florida’s economy, the construction industry in the state continues to face a skilled workforce shortage.

To help promote the construction industry as a great career opportunity to Florida’s future employees, visionary industry leaders created the Future Builders of America organization in 2003.

he mission of the organization is to engage students in construction educational activities and to help youth understand and pursue rewarding careers in construction. ​

“The residential construction industry is one of the few sectors where demand for new workers is rising,” said Doug Barton, the president of the Tallahassee Builders Association. “From carpenters and electricians to framers and roofers, the building trades offer a great career path.”

Much of the genesis of the idea for the local chapter came from Kerwyn Wilson of Quincy, a female builder following in her father’s footsteps in the local building industry.

Wilson is the principal manager of Jones Construction and Design LLC in Quincy.

Wilson, a member of the Tallahassee Builders Association and an advisory board member at the Gadsden Technical Institute (the Gadsden County School District’s vocational school), gathered a group of interested students from Gadsden Technical Institute back in November to help build a playhouse for a March of Dimes auction.

Under the direction of Wilson, and local builders Bill Kimberl of Kimberl Construction (the 2017 Tallahassee Builders Association former president) and Adam Vieth of Vieth Construction, nine students and their building construction teacher, Alfred Suber, went to the Tallahassee Builders Association headquarters and over one week built a playhouse for the auction.

“We were thrilled to watch these students build and learn alongside our contractors and to continue to ask about careers in construction,” said Lynne Edwards, executive officer of the Tallahassee Builders Association.

Then, on January 5, the Tallahassee Builders Association officially recognized the students with a presentation of their student Future Builders of America certificates as school officials such as Gadsden County School Superintendent Roger Milton, Gadsden Technical Institute School Director Sylvia Jackson and Gadsden Technical Institute Technical Education Career Coordinator Angela Sapp looked on.

“I’ve gone to conferences around the state and heard about Future Builders of America chapters in other places,” Wilson said. “I knew it would be a great thing to get one started here.”

Then, on Saturday, about ten mentors from the Tallahassee Builders Association and the students from the Future Builders of America chapter gathered on the Gadsden Technical Institute campus to build a handicap ramp for a portable classroom at the institute.

“It’s great to be a mentor for these students,” Kimberl said. “We want to show them there’s other opportunities to make a nice life for yourself without having to go to a four-year college. College is not for everyone.”

The students enjoyed the opportunity to learn new skills and be mentored by the professional builders.

“I like how everyone works together as a team,” said Sestee Wilson III, 15, of Quincy, a 10th-grader at Crossroad Charter Academy. “I’m enjoying what I am learning. I can see doing this as a career.”

Throughout the year, the Tallahassee Builders Association will provide guest speakers and field trips to building sites — along with opportunities for summer and post-graduation employment — to help the students try to advance their careers in the construction industry.

For information about the Tallahassee Builders Association, call Edwards at (850) 385-1414.

For information about Gadsden Technical Institute, call Sapp at (850) 875-8324, ext. 5101.

By Randall Lieberman