Financial and material donations from County Materials Corporation are helping to fund an innovative new program to provide tech-ed opportunities in masonry to high school students around Wisconsin. The High School Masonry Program (HSMP) is the result of a creative collaboration between the nonprofit Masonry Technology Foundation of Wisconsin (MTFW), industry supporters, individual masonry contractors, and schools. The program is expected to help remedy the state’s growing shortage of masonry professionals and lack of available masonry education.
Starting in January, 2015, select Wisconsin high schools will each receive ten sets of masonry tools, along with masonry-specific educational material including testing criteria, online videos, and a pre-planned curriculum. Each school’s tech-ed instructor will also receive guidance and support from designated industry professionals. These HSMP Coordinators will assist instructors in establishing a 2-3 week masonry training program at each school. The students will work in teams to complete hands-on masonry projects using the provided tools and materials.
Bob Roehrig, County Materials sales representative and president of the MTFW Board of Directors, explains why this level of support is important and necessary: “In construction you find that some instructors are good at certain trades but not all. By giving the teacher this kind of support the teacher can do a much better job of giving the kids what they need to succeed at the trade.”
Roehrig is one of a long succession of County Materials employees who have served on MTFW’s board of directors over the past 20 years. County Materials personnel have also lent their expertise on numerous occasions to area high schools, technical schools or teacher training academies to assist with these organizations’ technical training programs.
County Materials is a major supporter of the HSMP. Through their annual MTFW Golf Outing Foursome sponsorship and lunches and direct donations, the company has raised substantial funds for the MTFW general fund in support of masonry training and promotion in the state of Wisconsin. For over a decade, County Materials has also donated materials, including mortar, brick and block, to numerous tech-ed programs for use in hands-on masonry training programs. County Materials will be a major source of donated materials for the High School Masonry Program as well.
The first school to enter the High School Masonry Program is Fond du Lac High School, where 68 students will participate. MTFW is awaiting confirmation from four additional schools. There is no cost to the schools for the program.
If the program proves successful, MTFW officials hope to make it available to more Wisconsin high schools in the future. In the meantime, MTFW is developing an ‘adoption program’ that will enable any masonry contractor statewide to coordinate with their local school to set up a similar program. According to Roehrig, such an arrangement offers win-win benefits for all involved. The programs allow students to get hands-on experience in the masonry trade. At the same time, it allows contractors to scout out potential employees, interacting directly with the students and identifying those with the ability and interest to pursue masonry as a career.
In the end, all Wisconsin residents will benefit from MTFW’s efforts. "Qualified skilled laborers are needed to be able to build quality, aesthetically pleasing and long lasting masonry buildings throughout the state," stresses County Materials architectural sales rep and MTFW board member Steve Peter.
For more information on the High School Masonry Program, contact MTFW at 608-831-2580.
County Materials Corporation is a family-owned, American-based manufacturing company and leading source for construction and landscape products. Its headquarters are in Marathon, WI, where the company was founded in 1946. County Materials has grown into a diversified organization that supplies products for growing communities at more than 44 locations across the Midwest. For more information visit www.countymaterials.com.
Rebecca Sonnentag, Corporate Communication & Promotions Director County Materials Corporation