Building interest in trades

MARYSVILLE – It wasn’t your typical job fair Thursday out near the U.S. Navy’s family support annex.

Instead of passing out resumes or collecting business cards, Kameron Overmon of Mariner High School was putting siding on a shed under the watchful eye of Mariah Drogitis.

“That was fun. That was really fun,” Overmon said after his job was complete. “That was something I’d want to do.”

Curtis Mattson, also from Mariner, agreed.

“It’s interesting and engaging knowing you’re accomplishing something,” he said.

Overmon and Mattson were among about 100 students who were bused to the Naval annex Thursday for what was billed as a construction carnival put on by the Snohomish County Workforce Development Council.

Participating were a couple dozen people from trade unions, companies or organizations who were letting the students learn hands on what it was like to build a house, bend electrical conduit, create something from sheet metal, use a cutting torch, ride a boom lift or tape wallboard.

Drogitis, herself a student at the construction program at Seattle Central Community College, was working with the education foundation for the Master Builders of King and Snohomish Counties to help kids understand the trade.

She had gone to college to become a nurse, but is retraining for construction because she enjoys the field. “I really wanted to get outside and do something substantial,” she said.

She also enjoys “teaching hammer” to kids in a program called If I Had a Hammer.

After putting up siding, Overmon and Mattson went to a sheet-metal working area and built themselves a tool caddy to take home.

Earlier, Zac Laycock, a Mariner freshman, had hammered, bent and cut metal to create one for himself.

“I like doing stuff,” he said.

Eric Peterson, from a sheet-metal apprentice committee, helped the students do the work. He said he was there because “the opportunities in the trades aren’t getting the exposure we’d like to see in the schools.”

“The focus is on (going to) the four-year universities,” said Peterson, who added that his trade and most others really need young people.

Apprentices, he noted, start at $15.41 an hour plus medical benefits and pension contributions. He said journeymen sheet-metal workers make significantly more.

“The kids aren’t hearing about it,” he said. “The kids deserve to know so they have a choice. They can be paid for training and get out of it with no college debt.”

The work force council organized the event to let young people know about the many available jobs, and more importantly, to get a taste of what they are like.

“I love the fact that they get to do stuff,” said Sam Samano, one of the organizers for the council.

Reporter Mike Benbow: 425-339-3459 or

Michael O’Leary / The Herald

Kameron Overmon, 16, from Mariner High School, installs siding with the help of Mariah Drogitis from the Master Bulders Education Foundation at a job fair Thursday in Smokey Point.

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