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Far and Wise Trade Camp Initiative Expands
Students welded yard art and other art pieces in welding class.
Thursday, May 30, 2024


Sparks flew as Sherlin Ramirez-Lopez bent over a metal flower she was welding together, her welding helmet protecting her.

Ramirez-Lopez was one of three female and 10 male high school students enrolled in Far + Wise’s first ever welding camp. She was jazzed, too, having learned from the instructor that typically girls make the best welders.

Far + Wise inaugurated the free trade camps last summer in partnership with the Blaine County School District, Sun Valley Economic Development (SVED) and College of Southern Idaho in order to give 80 youth a way of testing career paths.

Students found that using a leveler is a very important part of masonry work.

Last summer students had a chance to fly an airplane as they learned about jobs in the aviation industry. They also learned entrepreneurial skills, plumbing, HVAC, masonry and chef skills.

Now Far + Wise, which offers students the skills to go to college or trade schools, has taken it one step further. They’ve launched the Center for Career Exploration (CCE), an expansion of their Kindergarten to Career programs.

The Center provides hands-on experiences and skill-building opportunities through camps, classes, internships and apprenticeships as it seeks to expose students to the wide array of career possibilities.It provides students with training that correlates to local jobs, potentially matching student interests with local employment needs.

Middle school students will be able to attend exploratory camps and field trips to learn about various careers. And high school and recent high school graduates will participate in intensive camps, as well as classes and field trips to CSI and local workplaces.

Students learned to use a press break to make a tool kit.

Students are just finishing a few weeks with Sun Valley Resort in which they had a chance to learn about career opportunities involving such avenues as hospitality, audio-visual, entertainment, golf and tennis. And in June and July they will have the opportunity to learn about careers in early childhood education and pediatric CPR, healthcare careers with St. Luke’s, public service and safety careers, woodworking, carpentry, autobody and culinary arts.

Last summer Bill Ebener of College of Southern Idaho told those in his welding class how each metal behaves differently and how they can use a combination of electricity and gasses to weld stronger. His job, he said, was to help the students understand that they can apply creativity to welding.

“It’s a science but it’s also an art,” he said. “And not a lot of people can do this work.  I think we’re in good hands with the next generation coming along. They’re serious about learning and understanding and not afraid to step up and use the machines.”

In masonry camp, students learned to mix mortar and square up a brick wall. They also learned about the need to be meticulous and precise when doing ceramic porcelain tile work.

Some of the students got to fly a small airplane, in addition to learning about careers in designing airports and maintaining them.

“It’s very fun but it takes practice using the trowel. I learned a lot,” said Lex Mitchell

Erik Munoz, tile setter with Instant Quality Tile, told students how he loves working in custom homes in the Wood River Valley.

“You don’t see custom homes like these in other parts of the world,” he said. “I start with a blank canvas and soon I have something beautiful. It’s a messy job, but for me it’s tile art.”

Students learned how to make tool boxes out of sheet metal using a press break—a machine pressing tool. They learned about solids and gasses in refrigeration class and using computers to do automotive work.

Students worked closely with instructors.

And Mason Eckebrecht, Andrii Kremenchuk and Xitlaly Serrato were among those who had an opportunity to learn the trade secrets of the chefs at the Sun Valley Culinary Institute as they made such dishes as vanilla semifreddo with strawberries and aged balsamic vinegar.

“I like baking and trying different things and experimenting,” said Serrato. “I’m not a very good cook, but I’m trying to get better and I have thought about culinary school. It was so cool when they gave me chicken to cut up myself.”

Jennifer Gennuso, who helped oversee the camps for Far + Wise, said she loved watching the kids light up as they became interested in what could be possible careers.

“Kids in educational environments typically learn about the theory of things but not how to put them into practice. They’re never going to plumb a wall in math class, for instance,” she said. “This gives them a chance to bring theory to reality. There’s a ton of talent behind these kids. Some of them might not demonstrate that talent in a traditional classroom, But they can show how phenomenal they are in a setting like this.”

Blaine County School District Superintendent Jim Foudy said the program fills gaps in the existing Career and Technical Education courses offered in school, while offering additional experiences.

Far + Wise Director Laura Rose-Lewis said the Center has been a dream in the making, brought to reality by partners and donors.

“We want to have training certification courses, classes and camps where students can get credit through the school district,” she said. “We want these to be of benefit so they can move to more education or a job. Our programs are offered at no cost so we remove financial barriers.”

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