Sponsored by the Lakeland Police Department, Polk County teens were given the opportunity to learn and engage with local trade professionals in a free, two-week Summer Trades Camp. The program provided exposure of industry trades to local teens. Sarah Giles, Human Resources for The Lunz Group, shares how excited Lunz team members were for the opportunity to share their passion for the trade industry.
“When Sergeant Joe Parker of the Lakeland Police Department asked The Lunz Group to speak at a Summer Trade Camp, we gladly accepted,” said Mrs. Giles. “We seek opportunities to provide servant leadership within the community to share the skills and talents of those in our organization. The Lunz Group has hosted career workshops in the past for architecture students in their bachelor’s and master’s programs, but this program allowed for opportunity to start from the beginning of the process, giving students a chance to work with tools and learn applicable life skills.”
In partnership with the Polk County School Board, the camp received over 200 applicants. With the applicants spanning grades 9-12, only 50 students were selected. Hosted by Traviss Technical College in Lakeland, Florida, the camp was founded by LPD Sergeant Joe Parker and sponsored by the Lakeland Police Department. With such a wide variety of ages, interests and experience levels, Sergeant Parker shares how students were selected to attend the camp.
“We wanted to be inclusive of any youth interested so there wasn’t really any disqualification standard other than they [the student] had to be currently enrolled and going into (grades) 9th-12th,” said Sergeant Parker. “Originally, it was going to be just Lakeland students, but we pulled from other jurisdictions so we could be sure to have enough demographics represented, especially girls, considering we had county-wide applications.”
Providing a multi-vocational experience, several trades were exhibited to maximize the exposure for students attending the camp. Students interacted with several trade professionals from concrete/masonry, carpentry, plumbing, roofing, electrical, welding, HVAC, drywall/interior finishes and more. Jeff Gatlin, BIM Manager for The Lunz Group, shares his thoughts about the positive impact of having this type of camp offered in Polk County.
“The camp allowed a space in which local professionals could come in and showcase their trade, skill or career to local youth in Lakeland,” said Mr. Gatlin. “Vocational workshops also provide career guidance to the teens that may not have access to someone in their life with a specific type of knowledge, so impacting a group of young minds rewards everyone, from the community, the professionals and most importantly the youth.”
The Lunz Group team provided four hours of student-centered instruction on introduction to architecture, interior design, Revit and how to read construction documents. Nicky Pereda, a Project Manager at The Lunz Group, shares an instructional activity that gave students a glimpse into the authentic process of real-world architecture.
“The best part of the whole day was when they picked a buddy, which was fun because it’s a summer camp, so it was a nice way to get to know people at their table,” said Ms. Pereda. “They had to face each other and draw each other’s face without moving the pen off the paper. All the sudden, the atmosphere changed from being a serious, architectural presentation to everyone laughing and enjoying sketching, learning an abstract way of seeing things that applies to architecture.”
Christa Broderick, a Project Manager for The Lunz Group, led a class titled “Interior Design 101 Basics”. By sharing her expertise of interior design, she was able to successfully explain how the interior design of a building can have an influence on human behavior.
“It’s amazing how there is this confusion to the difference between a decorator and a designer. I explained to the class the three E’s: Experience, Education and then Examination and how that sets apart a decorator and an Interior Designer,” said Ms. Broderick. “I’ve always thought that if you combined a decorator and an Architect, you would get an Interior Designer.”
The launch of this type of trade-based workshop in Polk County has the potential to shape the career paths of several teens. Navigating a career path tailored to students’ specific talents can be daunting, especially with the longevity of schooling and tuition required for a four-year degree. Gatlin expresses his thoughts on why this type of workshop could serve as a catalyst for younger generations looking to jumpstart their careers.
“High schoolers are very in tune with current technology trends such as gaming, virtual reality and photomanipulation so a good portion of my time was focused on careers in construction that are more technology based such as BIM manager, Graphic Designer and BIM technician roles,” said Gatlin. “The class was highly interested in the history of computers in construction, virtual reality and animation with several students noticeably sitting up straighter and keying in on how to become a 3D modeler with little to no education.”
One thing is clear, there is a developing need to educate teens on alternative, vocational avenues outside the traditional track of a college or university. Trade professionals are eager and willing to donate their time and engage with the younger generation, as seen in this camp. Our Lunz team, composed of Ms. Broderick, Ms. Giles, Ms. Pereda, Mr. Gatlin and Mr. Pendley, was humbled to have been involved in this experience. Next year, Sergeant Parker hopes to partner with other law enforcement agencies to hold similar workshops throughout Polk County.