Students gain experience with Mingo Job Corps

Sunday, October 16, 2011
Mingo Job Corps carpentry students prepare forms for concrete sidewalks at the nearly complete Camino Real Ranger Station near Taos, N.M. (Mingo Job Corps)

PUXICO, Mo. -- September was an exceptionally busy month for Mingo Job Corps Civilian Conservation Center. Located near Puxico, Mingo Job Corps is a residential educational and vocational training campus for young people ages 16 to 24 years.

Nine students from the Carpentry Career Technical Training area were hand-selected to assist with the rebuilding of a U.S. Forest Service ranger station near Taos, N.M. The new "Camino Real" ranger station is more than twice the size of the previous building and far more energy efficient. Many state-of-the-art technologies were used in the construction process including high efficiency windows and insulation that doubles the energy efficiency of the previous building.

"Real-world experience like this project reinforces the technical training the students have already received at the Center," said Tim Aslin, business and community liaison with Mingo Job Corps. Aslin accompanied the students on the 17-day stay in New Mexico.

Carpentry instructor Leo Adams said work-based learning is required for all students, "but time on a real construction site gives the students a feel for construction work that we just can't duplicate at the center."

While the carpentry team was in New Mexico, two more Mingo Job Corps Civilian Conservation Center teams were called into action. This time it was fire camp crews, with both crews initially dispatched to Syracuse, N.Y., to assist with Hurricane Irene relief.

After spending a week assisting with that effort both teams, a total of 18 students and two staff members who lead as crew bosses, found themselves near Pagami Creek, Minn., setting up and maintaining "spike camps" near a massive forest fire.

"Spike" refers to their positions near the fire line and away from the main command center. The camps serve link between the command center and the fire line. Equally important, they provide a comfortable place for the firefighters to shower, eat a hot meal and rest. In a wildfire, the fire line changes often requiring the camps to be taken down and reestablished quickly.

Bob Waldner, Mingo social services supervisor and crew leader, said, "This type of teamwork really plays a big role in preparing our students to have a team mindset when they become employed."

Mingo welding instructor and crew leader Toby Watson added, "The students are paid for working in the spike camps and that extra money comes in handy when they leave the program for housing, transportation and other expenses."

The Pagami Creek fire consumed some 90,000 acres and was the largest forest fire in Minnesota since 1918. Smoke from the fire was so intense that some 300 miles away, the Milwaukee Brewers baseball team had to close the Miller Park stadium roof before the game against the Colorado Rockies.

Mingo Job Corps Civilian Conservation Center offers educational and vocational training in seven occupations, including welding, painting, heavy equipment operator, carpentry, brick masonry, health occupations, and office administration in a residential setting with a capacity of 224 students.

The U.S. Forest Service operates 28 Job Corps Civilian Conservation Centers across 18 states with a capacity of 6,200 students. There is no cost to the student.

For more information, call Mingo Job Corps Civilian Conservation Center at 573-222-3537 or visit

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