*Skilled trades can provide great career and earning opportunities for many, and they don’t require the massive time and money – usually in the form of debt – needed for a college degree.
EURweb spoke with Mariah Broussard, a 22-year-old graduate of The LIME Foundation’s NextGen Trades Academy, to learn about the benefits of skilled trades and her own training and career journey.
Question: Hi Mariah. What were you doing before you attended the NextGen Trades Academy and started learning the construction trades?
Answer: Before I joined The LIME Foundation’s NextGen Trades Academy, I was working as an airport ramp service agent, supporting cargo and passenger planes from overseas. I assisted with marshaling planes, ensuring they were secure in the terminal, managing the bag room, and operating heavy machinery. While I had done some roofing work as a teenager, I had mostly worked food service jobs until I was hired at the airport.
Q: What heavy machinery were you operating at the airport and how did you learn that skill?
A: As ramp agents, we were required to undertake extensive training on how to operate tugs, K-loaders, Push-backs, Belt-loaders, and various other airport vehicles. Before our station started taking passenger flights, one of my main duties was operating the water and lavatory trucks that service the cargo planes.
Q: I see. So, what drew you to the LIME Foundation?
A: I was feeling unsatisfied with my job at the airport. I was doing the jobs of three different people and knew I wasn’t building towards my desired career. I wasn’t passionate about what I was doing, and I had no desire to learn more about planes and how they operated. However, I did know I wanted to work in the trades, building something tangible and long-lasting with my own hands.
Q: So, what was your next step?
A: Well, the challenge was that I didn’t have the resources or connections to get into any of the fields in the trades. I had some roofing and flooring experience but didn’t think I would be taken seriously as one of the few women trying to get into the trades if I didn’t have any recent history in the construction industry. Eventually, I decided to apply to the NextGen Trades Academy, which turned out to be the best decision I ever made!
Q: That’s great news! So, what did you study there?
A: While in a NextGen cohort, you get introductory lessons in the various trades; Agriculture, Architecture, HVAC, Plumbing, Flooring, Roofing, Solar, Electrical, Green Building, etc. Each class has a professional from one of the trades industries discuss their work and answer questions from students.
Q: What does a “cohort” refer to at NextGen?
A: A cohort is any group of students that are in one of their 3-week courses. In fact, a cohort is happening now through August 27th. It will be our first all-female class!
Q: So, what did you like most about the courses you took?
A: Well, I liked that they don’t just teach you about the trades, they also instruct in personal finance and interview skills. Plus, they require every student to complete their OSHA10 safety certification to graduate. LIME and NextGen also help to connect graduates with professionals in their industry of choice, and with options and training for those who haven’t been able to make a choice – or didn’t even know they had one in the first place!
Q: How do you hope to apply professionally what you learned at LIME?
A: I am now excited to move into the fields of green building and agriculture! Working with the LIME Foundation has also inspired me to start my own non-profit in the future. I really would like to give back to the community in my own way, and hopefully inspire others to also do so.
Q: What attracts you to green technology and what skills are you learning at the Academy that will prepare you for working in this field?
A: I’ve been a vegetarian since I was six, and although I can’t say I was environmentally invested at that age, switching to a plant-based diet definitely “planted a seed.” Pun intended! As I grew up and started looking more carefully at the food I was consuming, the clothes I was wearing, and the products I was using, I realized they were contributing to pollution and the general deterioration of our personal and planetary health. I won’t claim to be the queen of recycling or a green-thumbed goddess, but I really think we need to make sustainability more convenient. That way it’s more widely accessible to a larger variety of communities, and we can hopefully keep the majority of people’s waste in recycling and compost centers, rather than landfills.
Q: Sounds good! So, how can people learn more about The LIME Foundation’s NextGen Trades Academy?
A: They can call 707-532-5463 or visit www.thelimefoundation.org.
Q: Thanks so much for taking the time to speak with EURweb about this fascinating topic.
A: You are more than welcome. Thanks for your interest.
Here’s more about the LIME Foundation:
The LIME Foundation seeks to harness each individual’s potential by providing vital skills in music and the performing arts, construction, technology and health. It has three principal program pillars: NextGen Trades Academy to support job placement and workforce development for youth ages 16-24, Turner Arts Initiative for youth arts development, and Senior Activities Program for senior health.