Boys & Girls Club Youth Tour Sierra Pacific Industries

Boys & Girls Club Youth Tour Sierra Pacific Industries 1
L to R: Evan Wright(Development Coordinator, Boys & Girls Clubs of Skagit County), Tony Minor(Safety Supervisor, Sierra Pacific), Pablo(Club member), Nathan Allen(Director of STEM Initiatives, Boys & Girls Clubs of Skagit County), Ava(Club member), Brad Gould(Mill Manager Sierra Pacific), Jeret(Club member), Zoie(Club member). Photo courtesy: Boys & Girls Club of Skagit County

Submitted by Boys & Girls Clubs of Skagit County

Sierra Pacific Industries is the second-largest lumber producer in the United States. Their sawmill in Burlington, WA runs 22 hours a day with more than 180 employees. Further, they operate entirely in-house, hiring engineers, welders, accountants, and even programmers for software they write and run. On November 30, Sierra Pacific Industries welcomed youth from the Boys & Girls Clubs of Skagit County to tour the mill.
Boys & Girls Club Youth Tour Sierra Pacific Industries Tony Minor
Tony Minor, Safety Supervisor for Sierra Pacific helps Club member Pablo to make sure his ear plugs are in correctly. Photo courtesy: Boys & Girls Club of Skagit County

Prior to the trip, the youth were hesitant about visiting Sierra Pacific Industries, largely because they struggled to understand exactly what they would be seeing. For example, Pablo, a 6th grader from the Mount Baker Club, asked “Are we going to see them cut down trees?” After donning safety goggles, ear plugs, and helmets, the youth entered the mill and were immediately wowed. “The mill was incredibly stimulating,” said Nathan Allen, Director of STEM Initiatives for Boys & Girls Clubs, “the saws are deafening, there’s a powerful scent of saw dust, and logs are literally being torn apart and formed into long planks by massive machines.” Ava Gage, a 6th grader from La Venture Club, noted, “At first I was scared, but the tour was really cool!”

The trip to Sierra Pacific was part of Boys & Girls Clubs’ science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) initiatives. The STEM program provides opportunities for youth in Skagit County to learn about STEM careers in their community and gain skills related to those professions. In the weeks leading up to the tour, youth participated in activities that taught them about manufacturing and engineering. Field trips let youth see how the skills gained at the Clubs can be applied in jobs in their community and also helps them pursue their career goals. At the end of the tour, each youth eagerly asked for an employment application to help inspire them in the future.
Boys & Girls Club Youth Tour Sierra Pacific Industries Pablo
Club member Pablo has an infinite number of questions for Sierra Pacific Mill Manager, Brad Gould as another Club member listens. Photo courtesy: Boys & Girls Club of Skagit County

Zoie, a high school sophomore from the Mount Vernon Club, was especially inspired by the tour.  “I never thought about a field like this for my future,” said Zoie, “but it would be kind of fun to work here!” Zoie was recently chosen to represent the Mount Vernon Club in Boys & Girls Clubs Youth of the Year competition. Youth of the Year is the highest award a youth in the Clubs can receive and youth compete at regional, state, and national levels for increasingly larger scholarship prizes. Trips like the one to Sierra Pacific help motivate high-achieving youth like Zoie to find careers in Skagit County and even encourage them to pursue new ambitions.

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