Ag Mechanics program unmasks career opportunities for students

Left to right: Emmet Edman, Ian McCrary, Logan Nottingham and Roberto Martinez attended the two-day Butte College camp. (Courtesy photo)

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Winters High School not only provides its students a top-notch education, but also with exposure to career opportunities after graduation. A group of ag mechanics students recently had a hands-on manufacturing experience 

WHS teacher Donnie Whitworth championed this effort by taking some of his students to Butte College for a two-day camp focused on the manufacturing industry.

A stereotype exists that trade work is nothing more than knuckle-dragging labor. Moreover, that those in the trade industry are uneducated underachievers. These concepts are – like all stereotypes – laughable, especially with the magnitude of technical know-how the WHS students were exposed to on their trip to Butte College.

“Butte College started a new manufacturing program where students can learn and get an associate’s degree in manufacturing technology. It involves using computer numeric control machinery, whether that’s a plasma cutting table, water cutting table or robotic welding,” Whitworth explained. “We spent the last few days going through the process of taking flat sheet metal and saw it with a water jet. In the end, they made a cool toolbox with imagery cut into it.”

On Oct. 26, Whitworth also took 15 students to Cal Expo where the Construction Industry Education Foundation (CIEF) put on a Trades Day. This experience was comprised of over 50 different booths and exhibits with as many presenters from the construction industry, unions, trade schools and companies looking to recruit new industry dynamos.

“If you speak to people in the industry and trades, they’re begging for new employees to come in. Current employees are aging out and don’t have young people to move in,” Whitworth said about the importance of trade work. “College just isn’t for everybody, and we need to show the students there are lucrative careers out there where they can make a living and enjoy what they’re doing.”

To expose more students to the highly technical field of manufacturing, Whitworth is ushering another batch of Warriors to Butte College on Jan. 18–19. Meanwhile in Winters, students will continue to learn about and familiarize themselves with Computer Numeric Control (CNC) machining. CNC operating is a manufacturing industry standard across the board, and expensive machinery to get one’s hands on.

Whitworth said the community is helping to support WHS students and send them to these types of experiences.

“This community is awesome in supporting. We also have a great booster group,” said Whitworth. “It’s the booster that helps sponsor and pay for kids’ registration to go to these events and camps. Those camps and our equipment are an example of where donated money from the booster goes.”

Beyond monetary donations, one can always help support by encouraging youth to not be afraid to go into the trades. Along the way, one will learn technical and practical skills as well as bolster their work ethic. Not to mention, the lucrative pay that comes with the industry’s high-demand for employees.

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