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Students build skills and serve veterans in Construction Combine

Business & Money

IDAHO FALLS — Students showed off their skills to potential employers and performed service for local veterans at the first-ever Idaho Falls Construction Combine on Wednesday at The Home Depot.

“This actually started last year in Pocatello with Idaho State University and sort of migrated across the state,” College of Eastern Idaho’s Workforce Training Programs Director Debbie Borek says.

Thanks to many local and state sponsors including The Home Depot, College of Eastern Idaho, and the Eastern Idaho Home Builders Association, student participants can learn various construction trades and use new donated material.

The Idaho Falls Home Depot donated over $10,000 to the event. Reps say The Home Depot has a special fund set aside for these kinds of volunteer projects.

Borek says during the two-day gathering, about 20 contracting companies are mentoring the students, who do most the work.

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Caralee Brasher is one of a small few female participants at the first ever Idaho Falls Construction Combine. | Natalia Hepworth,

“We do actually have a lot of students here in east Idaho that go to construction-type classes at high school,” Borek says. “But, they were not required to have experience, so it’s also for them to figure out if this is something that they might want to do.”

Fifty students showed up in unpleasant weather, ready to learn and build.

Caralee Brasher Idaho Falls High School Senior says she’s enrolled in a construction course, and it’s one of her favorite classes. One of a handful of female participants at the event, she says she loves seeing the final product of her work.

“Even though it’s not something girls normally do, it’s something that I get a chance to do and that I can definitely make a difference doing,” Brasher says.

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Photo credit: Natalia Hepworth,

On Wednesday the students were trained in different stations like electrical, plumbing, drywall, masonry, cement and flooring. Borek says there were eight sections with two stations per trade.

Two mandatory stations were roofing and framing, as those trades are essential to the service project all of the students will be participating in.

“They’re building the parts of the sheds today that we’re going to put together tomorrow,” Borek said on Wednesday.

Ten student-built sheds will be given to local veterans in need.

“They were selected, and we had to do a site survey to make sure we could get the shed into their property, so they do know that we’re coming,” Borek says.

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Photo credit: Natalia Hepworth,

The sheds are being presented around 4:30 p.m. Thursday during a special ceremony.

Borek says this learning and service opportunity will be one they’ll hold annually.

“We are committed to doing this every year,” Borek says.

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