Elk Valley teens participated in the Heavy Duty program and learned how to climb a telephone pole at the BC Hydro station.

Teens get Heavy Duty training in the valley

Teens learned the tricks of the trades during the Elk Valley’s Project Heavy Duty program.

Teens learned the tricks of the trades during the Elk Valley’s Project Heavy Duty program.

Hosted by Southeast School District 5 (SD5), WorkSafeBC, College of the Rockies (COTR) and local heavy industries, 25 Grade 11 and 12 students from throughout the Elk Valley had the opportunity to work with trades professionals, who educated them on different skill sets.

“The goals are many,” COTR Regional Transitions Coordinator Brian Conrad said. “We want kids to be safe, so we’re trying to create a culture in their habits for safety that hopefully will extend throughout their lives. We also are trying to promote trades so that more students realize that there are really neat opportunities in this area for all types of employment.”

Conrad continued, “We also are trying to link students with potential employers down the road so they know what the expectations are in terms of punctuality and developing skills through education and training.”

During the Heavy Duty program several industries throughout the Elk Valley, including BC Hydro, Teck, SMS and Mainroad Contracting, donated their time, machinery and expertise to work with high school teens for the week.

The four day program consisted of Level 1 First Aid training COTR, a tour of Teck Coal’s Line Creek Operation and two days of hands on training at 12 different trades stations, including learning how to operate a haul truck and climbing a telephone pole with BC Hydro.

For many students, this learning opportunity is a gateway to their future careers.

Fernie Secondary School (F.S.S.) student Darion Forrester plans to attend college to become a heavy-duty mechanic.

For the Grade 11 student, the Heavy Duty program was a way to get his foot in the door.

“If you get hands on experience, you get an understanding of the trades,” he said. “It’s a good program, there’s a lot of beneficial stuff here. I learned a lot.”

Elkford Secondary School (E.S.S.) student Evan Pumphrey is also keen on heading into the trades after he graduates.

Having a strong passion for hockey, the Grade 11 teen said he hopes to play hockey for a few years before pursuing a career in welding.

“I wanted to get some experience so that one day when I get a job I’m not totally out to lunch,” Pumphrey said. “I think [the program’s] great, it’s amazing all these people taking time out of their day to do this for us.”

Some students entered in the Heavy Duty program, however, with no definite plans for their future, joining the program simply to gain some industry experience.

Conrad noted, “Others are just normal students who are very interested in more experiences and they have no idea what they want to do later in life, but this will give them some idea of what they like and what they don’t [like].”

He continued, “There’s a whole host of things that we see happening when you get kids out of the classroom and dealing with the world of work.”

For E.S.S. student Taylor Wurmlinger, signing up for the Heavy Duty program was a way to gain some trades experience, despite not knowing what her career path might entail.

Elk Valley students Taylor Wurmlinger and Evan Pumphrey took part in the Heavy Duty program.

Of her future, Wurmlinger said, “I’m still undecided. That’s another reason why I thought this would be a good program. I never would have though I would have liked to drive a big truck like that, but after doing it, I’m kind of considering it.”


Wurmlinger said she joined the program because, “I thought it would be a great experience to get exposed to this kind of stuff because you don’t really get an opportunity to go out and try all this different equipment in one place at one time.”

Equipment exposure included hands on experience with a haul truck simulator, a station Wurmlinger said was her favourite.

The program took place from May 10-13, with hands-on equipment operating experience taking place on May 12-13 at the District of Sparwood Gravel Pits. Heavy Duty is available to Grade 11 and 12 students each year.