SW TrANS Partners With Local Entities For After School Trade Program

Southwest Transportation Alliance Network Solution (SW TrANS) has partnered with Hendrick’s CareerTek (HCT). HCT has a state-of-the-art career center located in their Ironworks campus that provides road construction career development, education, and career opportunities to youth in the Greater Beloit community. In partnership with the School District of Beloit, the Boys & Girls Clubs, the Greater Beloit Chamber of Commerce, Irontek, and local businesses provide opportunities to gain valuable insights into workforce demands, career pathways, and requisite skill sets.

Recently, HCT has begun working with middle schoolers (grades 6-9) in an afterschool program called the “After School Trades Program.” The program is four weeks long, and explores different trade activities. Several times a year for the past four years, we speak to high schoolers regarding the road construction industry and the TrANS program. Lorie Thompson, SW TrANS Coordinator, has worked closely with Derrick Carter, the Director of Hendricks Career Tek, to offer Beloit high schoolers an option of career choices upon graduation. “I’ve always had an affinity for helping and encouraging young people to achieve their dreams. I believe that it truly does take a village to raise a child and I am compelled to do my part,” says Carter, which describes the partnership between TrANS and Career Tek.

When Carter first heard of the efforts TrANS was making in the Rock County area, he envisioned a partnership that would bring a high success rate to both programs. “My goal is to implement a strategic plan that will allow HCT to support our youth with picking careers they want to explore, preparing them with skills required to succeed and placing them in positions to get real world experience. TrANS does that, too,” says Carter. Carter was hoping TrANS would be willing to provide an afternoon session to start. He was pleasantly surprised when we offered Carter an opportunity for a month-long road construction learning experience.

Drawing the Blueprint

During the month of February, SW TrANS Coordinator, Lorie Thompson, collaborated with local contractor and avid TrANS supporter, Rock Road Construction to create a learning experience unlike any other: an organized curriculum that covered all topics from flagger instruction to creating work zones utilizing Temporary Traffic Devices (TTDs), like barrels and barricades.

Rock Road is a strong supporter of the SW TrANS program, frequently offering to speak before classes on a variety of construction concerns/issues, actively recruiting and hiring TrANS grads, along with being a vocal advocate to the public on the successes of the TrANS program. Since 1913 Rock Road Companies, Inc. has paved the way on public and private projects in Southern Wisconsin and Northern Illinois. Rock Road provides highway construction materials and a variety of services including asphalt production and paving, earthmoving, site development, underground construction, survey and staking, and project management. Their corporate headquarters is located in Janesville, while their business office resides in Rockford with many asphalt plants, pits and quarries located throughout southern Wisconsin and northern Illinois.

As a WisDOT prime contractor, SW TrANS has worked closely with the Rock Road for many years. In fact, Rock Road was instrumental in bringing the TrANS program to the Rock County area. Through this close work relationship, Thompson reached out to her contact at Rock Road, Meghan Vaxman, about her planning and training ideas. Vaxman quickly responded to Thompson, “Yes, Yes, Yes. Looks like we can assist with this!” Rock Road was able to provide the TTD equipment of barrels and barricades needed including transporting them to and from the training location and even offering a session on blueprint reading basics. After a little logistical planning and recruitment of a few TrANS graduates to assist, Thompson confirmed the training session with Carter, and HCT started to promote and register middle schoolers for enrollment.

Putting the Plan to Action

For the first day of training, Lorie Thompson, SW TrANS, condensed the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD) flagger instruction to basic flagging steps. Incorporating a power point for visual instruction, along with hands-on guidance, Thompson was able to teach the afterschool enrolled class of 9 to learn basic flagging techniques and flagger safety.

On the second day of training, Thompson and TrANS grads worked with the students to create a work zone in order to practice the skills learned for flagging in the previous week. The third day of training involved creating a work zone that included orange cones, barrels and barricades. Gus Small, from Rock Road, aided in transporting the TTDs to and from the lot location. The students learned where to place the TTDs, helped to place them, and learned the significance of their usage in traffic control and safety.

The last day of training involved blue-print reading. Mike Marquette, from Rock Road, provided each student with a blueprint copy of a local area intersection Rock Road recently completed, and the training to learn how to read as well as interpret them.

Looking at the Road Ahead

Afterwards, Derrick Carter updated Lorie Thompson on the outcome of the training. The students thoroughly enjoyed the road construction experience, and HCT hopes TrANS will be able to provide this as an annual training event in the future.

Not only did the After School Trades Program provide an opportunity to solidify work relationships with TrANS and outreach efforts, but the training event helped HCT to connect directly with Rock Road and cultivate a working relationship of their own. HCT and Rock Road are now exploring other training opportunities that can be created for summer program events going forward.

Susan Day, Employment Outreach manager for HCT, sent congratulations and words of appreciation to Lorie Thompson, SW TrANS, for the efforts she provided in achieving a successful outcome, “It’s very rewarding to be able to help our youth with career exploration opportunities and building their futures as productive citizens. I am honored to have this opportunity to continue my desire of making a difference at Hendricks CareerTek, and appreciate the work you’ve done, Lorie. Thank you.”

Thank you, Lorie and the SW TrANS team for your creative planning and work with our youth. We can’t wait to see what the future holds and look forward to more training sessions!

For more information about the TrANS Program and how to get involved.>