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About the Foundation

The mikeroweWORKS Foundation promotes hard work and supports the skilled trades in a variety of areas. We award scholarships to men and women who have demonstrated an interest in and an aptitude for mastering a specific trade. The mikeroweWORKS Foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.

The Foundation’s focus is on supporting the specific skilled trades that help close the Country’s skills gap and those that represent the significant bulk of our unfilled jobs

The Foundation has participated in more than $2.5 million awarded in scholarships to schools around the country, including Midwest Technical Institute, Tulsa Welding School, The Refrigeration School and Universal Technical Institute.double-the-donation-purple

2015 mrWF WORK ETHIC
SCHOLARSHIP

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The 2015 mrWF Work Ethic Scholarship has launched! Learn how you can apply.

2015 mrWF “COMPETITOR” TRAVEL SCHOLARSHIP

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SkillsUSA is pleased to announce that the mikeroweWORKS Foundation is offering a number of scholarships of up to $1,000 for SkillsUSA member students to attend the National Leadership and Skills Conference.

FACES OF THE FOUNDATION

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mrWF is making a difference - check out more stories from our scholarship recipients.
                                          CLICK HERE FOR THE CURRENT SCHOLARSHIPS BEING OFFEREDmrWF Scholarship News Fix

mrWF/MTI
SCHOLARSHIP

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Submissions are now closed and voting began April 6th – winners will be announced on or about May 4th. Thank you to all who applied!

THEIR GRATITUDE SHINES BRIGHTLY

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The Summer 2015 SkillsUSA Champions magazine introduces you to five of the 2014 mikeroweWORKS Foundation Travel Scholarship recipients.

LOOK OUT WORLD…NIC’S GONNA BE AN ELECTRICIAN!

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mikeroweWORKS Scholarship winner Nic DuCheny will be attending WDTI and will pursue a career in the Electrical Trades. Read the letter his father Todd wrote thanking mrWF for the scholarship.

MIKE & mrWF at SKILLSUSA 2014

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Find photos, videos, and links to all the happenings at this National SkillsUSA Conference – HERE.

AMAZONSMILE & AWESOME C.R.A.P AUCTION RESULT!

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Read Mike’s blog about the check the Foundation received from AmazonSmile and the great results from our recent Bobblehead & Gift Bag auction.

MICHAEL HAMRICK 2014 WORK ETHIC SCHOLARSHIP

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We recently received an update from Michael’s proud Mom.
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  • pat

    Older / I am a older worker and grew up in a diffrent time. I learnd a lot in school we learned basic welding mechanics and carpentry, but then I went to school on the job and in 40 years of working I learnd a lot and got kicked a lot. Now to my point thank you Mr Rowe ( yes that is how you adress ppl you do not know ) for giving the ppl a heads up and chance to learn EVERY job is important and if you can put your name on it when you are done then shame on you I do not care if it is even sweeping the floor. I hope the youn ppl do get something out of this cuze right now I do not see a lot of efort being made to respect the working ppl who make the plant called America work.

  • booksRbetter

    If you were born profoundly Deaf, you will have to battle ignorance. A guy I know was not allowed to learn skydiving in Spokane, WA. Why? Safety reasons. He was trained by the USFS to climb very tall trees. He got a job in Portland, OR as a tree trimmer. When they found out he was Deaf, they refused to let him go up in the trees. He had a friend that talked his boss into considering the deaf guy to work in roofing. A union job. But when they found out they would have to accommodate occasionally with interpreters & video phones, they used the old “safety reasons” not to hire the deaf guy! The Deaf’s own hearing cousin that has his own building painting business used that reason to not hire him. So what does this deaf Moab do? He goes to AZ and has a friend teach him skydiving AFTER he’s already taken up B.A.S.E. Jumping? He’s been doing BASE for 13 years. Trouble with it? No money in it. He needs a promoter! Mike – you?

  • Scott Ilkenhons

    Grants: Thank you Mike Rowe for performing an incredibly awesome and noble crusade. As a “vocational” educator I have watched your presentations to the politicians and it was very moving. It is a great thing to provide scholarships to young people that are very deserving. I have an idea for your next initiative; be a bridge to grants for vocation education. Teachers are doing a LOT to educate these young minds but writing a grant request is done at the twilight hours after all of our other duties are done and therefore both requirements of time and talent are lacking. These grants are used to do our jobs better, provide better and practical experiences for our students that our state government says we can make do without. I want to bring computer programming in to our school, but the $1600 for the curriculum makes the accountants cringe. You have the infrastructure to create a bridge between people who want to give money to education and educators who could really use it.

    • 13thGenPatriot

      My shooting buddies and I never knew that crayons kill. I suppose it’s time to start licensing those that exercise their 1st Amendment rights and making them take a test before they can speak or write in public.

  • Jim Warren

    Hello mikeroweWORKSfoundation. My organization (Fabricators & Mfrs Association…focused on metal fabrication, tube and welding) would like Mike to speak/keynote at our annual mtg on Feb 26/800am in Orlando. We’d like to make a donation to Mike’s foundation as the speaker fee, and also make a scholarship donation to our foundation Nuts Bolts and Thingamajigs in Mike’s name. Hoping to talk with one of Mike’s team mates here soon about this — I can be reached at jimw@fmanet.org or phone 815-227-8213. Our foundation website is http://www.nutsandboltsfoundation.org. Thank you! Jim Warren, Sr. Director at the FMA.

  • william dennis

    So, I have been in the carpentry/ wood flooring trades since I was 17. 45 now and have owned my own company for 15 years now. I have 5 guys that work for me and we now do only wood floors all over NH , MA and ME with our main work area in downtown Boston. It is hard to find good help. Young people who are serious about learning a skilled trade. What you are doing here is amazing. I want to help support your cause Mike. T shirts, a pledge, and whatever. The work ethic you are promoting is what built this country. Pride, a word most of our younger generations never speak.

    I love reading the articles you write on your site and fyi…I have seen every episode of dirty jobs. My wife and I watch the reruns still. Not sure how I can help other buying some of you stuff but I’m willing to help in any way I can to support and promote your foundation. My email is willdennis@msn.com. please feel free to contact me with any questions you may have.

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  • Penny Colt

    I am 61 yr old woman die maker, journeyman, generalmotors. It took me 8 years to earn my master, even after taking machine classes at night school before I hired on. They trained me, sent me to really interesting classes at community college, and paid me for my work. It was wonderful and rewarding in so many ways. for one, I learned how to think and solve real problems and fix anything and build anything, anywhere, any time. Later, I became a mommy, and stayed home and homeschooled them. that was a whole ‘nother education! K-12, two children. While they were growing up, we traveled for three years in a horse drawn mobile home. When that didn’t work anymore we graduated to a truck and trailer and proceeded to buy an sell antiques and collectibles all over the country. We did that for about 8 years until we found a piece of property and homesteaded it. we built our log cabin skidding the logs with the horses and sawin them with a woodmiser and putting it together, along with a 30 X 60 storage building, fenced in 5 acres, plowed and planted the hay field – all in one year! We’ve been there 21 years now and still lovin it. Sooo the moral of the story is LOVE YOUR WORK. IT’S ALL YOU’VE GOT! pS. Enjoyed seeing yu with Glen beck Sat. nite.

  • Brock Samson

    Helping people who want to learn a trade… Finally!! Leave it to Mike Rowe.

  • Zach

    I just wanted to say I completely agree with Mike’s view on college and how the expense is ridiculous. I am not going for a blue collar job but have a tremendous respect for those who do. I am going to college to hopefully be a veterinarian and this requires 8 years of college. The undergraduate years are expensive and graduate years are even more expensive. I got to talking to older veterinarians at our clinic and when they would graduate from veterinary school they would not have much debt and they would open a clinic. That is how it worked back 40-50 years ago. Now when veterinarians get out of professional school hey are in so much debt they are just working most of their life to pay off this debt. I know the debt rate is extremely high but am so passionate about being a veterinarian I care more about being in this vocation and putting the debt to the back of my mind. The education system now is so wrong their is no way for a person to go through college and not have debt to pay. Thanks for letting me share my experience with how college prices have raised to ridiculous amounts. I love doing the dirty jobs around the house and have a great respect for the people who work in the background of blue collar jobs. I enjoyed the speech you gave at the 2010 National Boy Scouts Jamboree.

  • Guest

    To whom it may concern (because your website doesn’t point me to anyone in particular!),

    I am a principal of the company Vision Technologies. Since my partners and I founded the company in 2000, we’ve grown to about 350 employees. Vision Technologies is a national IT firm, with a division that specializes in the installation of voice/data cabling, fiber optic cabling, AV systems and security systems. In support of our mission, we are also a BICSI certified training center. (www.bicsi.org) Our BICSI Training Center enables us to train and certify low voltage cabling technicians, many of which we hire post-training. We also hired un-certified folks, and train them as well. (Hire for attitude, train for skills!) The Technician is a skilled trade, and aligns directly with the goals of the foundation.

    I am talking with the BICSI organization about putting together a subsidized training program for the entry level technician, which could be in conjunction with mikeroweWORKS Foundation. My initial thought is to put together one class per quarter, for 12 students, at no charge to them (scholarship!) donating our training room and trainer, donated training materials from BICSI and promoted by your foundation. That would deliver 48 scholarships (value of approximately $1000 each) over a year, and provide skilled training to the participants. I can see this program benefiting all three organizations, through joint marketing, recruiting and promotion.

    Many of our entry level technicians have grown within the company, advancing technically and growing into foreman/project manager/management roles. To be candid, we see this as a great opportunity to market our services, use the class as a recruiting tool, and at the same time, do some good for our community.

    I would like to speak to someone at mikeroweWORKS Foundation about my thoughts for this program.

    On a personal note, you can let Mike know that I got my Eagle letter in 1973, and grew up 15 minutes from him…. :-)

    Sincerely,

    Al Saxon

  • Kathy Hopkins

    Thank you for supporting jobs that don’t require college degrees! There is nothing to be ashamed of by working in a trade. I support your Foundation with great pleasure through Amazon Smiles and ask that others do the same, especially those that gripe about “the way things are in America” right now.

    I was an aircraft mechanic myself for the USAF and an Texas Air National Guard Technician, (full-timer, civilian DOD employee) for 27 years, and the first woman to be hired into as a wage grade employee in the State of Texas. I retired in 2003 as a Chief Master Sergeant in aircraft maintenance. I used to tell my guys that if they were doing their jobs for recognition, they were in the wrong place. Their sense of self-satisfaction had to come from within themselves: Knowing they had done their best, done a job they were proud to sign their name to, and turned over a safe, operational aircraft that they would be willing to fly on themselves. If the sound of the engines “turning and burning” lifted their hearts, they were in the right place!

    Now I raise exhibition geese. It, too, is a dirty, thankless job, much like working in Propulsion. Nothing goes according to plan, Murphy’s Law prevails, and always seem to be behind schedule! Thanks again for all your hard work and support!

    • 13thGenPatriot

      Awesome job Kathy. I worked on Army helicopters as an avionics technician and then AGR doing the same and also training others. That gave me the skills to get a job with the FAA and now I work on radars and automation systems. I have an Associate of Arts degree, but my job skills came from the military and from the Mike Monroney Aeronautical Academy (and a lot of OJT and shadowing senior technicians). Starting as an experienced avionics technician, it took several years to train up to Journeyman level as a radar technician, but it was worth the trip. I love what I do, and I will miss it when I retire. I will have to find something like your geese when my time comes to leave it. Anyway, thanks for your service and your comments.

  • Dana

    I recruit for over 500 Mechanics and Electronic Technicians each year for a major energy services company headquartered in Houston, Texas. There is definitely a skills gap in this country. My employer is now offering Associate positions for students right out of school who have either a Certificate or Associate’s degree in Automotive/Diesel Technology or Electronics. We provide the best training in the industry. Our Mechanics receive a monthly tool allowance, excellent compensation and amazing benefits. We are visiting as many technical colleges as possible to get the word out about our great opportunities. Thank you MRW!

    • jhnnyfiv

      Hi Dana,

      I’m sure you’ve already visited our campus in Houston, but if not please stop by Universal Technical Institute. I’m sure our students would love to hear about the opportunities at your firm!

  • Jessica Beckling

    Can I just say that we have loved every minute of Dirty Jobs in our family. I have two girls, 9 and 8, who are absolutely leaning towards a skilled job when they get older. Your show has opened their eyes to the possibilities and the NEED for people to do those jobs. With that said, I have to bring up an untapped source of labor. Moms. Yes, we have raised our children, possibly even had a career prior to said family, and are now ready to return to the workforce. We are wiser. We are more concerned for this country. We have a lot of skills to offer. We want to contribute and don’t always want to go back to a desk job. So how does a mom who doesn’t want to “blog” (let’s face it, that’s pretty much what a stay at home mom who is ready to work is left with) get a skilled job that she can work at til she’s old and gray?? Just saying, Mike. Moms have done dirty jobs for little people. Now we would like to continue in this new skill set and get this country’s butt off the ground!

    • Kerri G. Etminan

      EXCELLENT point! But do you want to weld? Cuz I don’t! I don’t heal well lol The photos definitely show a leaning towards trade schools mostly for me though don’t they. Not that I wouldn’t do a man’s job just saying not all people (me now especially) have the stamina and strength for some of these jobs.

      • September

        There is no such thing as “a man’s job”.

        • 13thGenPatriot

          You should give that a little more of a think.

          • September

            I can’t think of a single career where an XY chromosome is needed to perform well.
            I am a licensed master electrician and I also happen to be female; while this may be a male dominated field, I’m not doing “a man’s job”, I’m doing an electrician’s job.

          • 13thGenPatriot

            I know for a fact that they lowered standards in the fire departments, police departments, and military so that women could be “equal”. Women still do not perform to the same physical standards demanded of men in these career fields, yet they are “fully capable” and can “do everything the men do”. It is just a lie that we tell ourselves.

            Having said that, I fully support having women in fire departments, police departments and in the military, but not in all the jobs associated with these professions (unless they are held to the exact same standards as the males doing the same job). Women are smart, tough, and capable. They should not be given a different set of standards to live up to. If a man must do 50 push-ups in 2 minutes to be a soldier, so should a woman doing the same job. If he has to run 2 miles in 13 minutes, so should the woman. If he has to have short hair, so should the woman. If he has to set up the fire ladder and carry the hose a certain distance in a set amount of time…the women should have to comply with the exact same standard.

            The double standard and relaxed rules and accommodations for are what I find objectionable. We have to stop lying to ourselves. If a woman is capable, fine, she should have the same chance for the job as anyone else. However, too many times I have seen women enter an occupation, loudly proclaiming her “equality”, only to then see them complain about their male co-workers; the job being to hard; the facilities not suitable for their feminine needs, etc.

            Again, I think women are capable, so they should get a turn carrying the M-60 machinegun, extra barrel, tripod, and 200 rounds of ammunition…just like their male counterparts. They should have to lug ammo boxes, carry mortar base plates, etc.

            I have seen female soldiers, sailors, and airmen that were outstanding…better than me in some parts of the job. So this isn’t a misogynist rant or a “I’m superior” whine. It’s a call for true equality, not the fantasy “equality” of double standards and relaxed standards for women. No special treatment for anyone. If you want to work construction, I good with that. If you want to be a welder, no problem. Women can do any job they want to, in my opinion, so long as they earn it the same way their male counterparts have to. That means the exact same physical standards, the exact same motor skill requirements, and the exact same mental skill sets apply.

            I work with women that can do that.

          • September

            I actually agree with what you say about 1 job having 1 standard; minimum requirements should be just that! However even then, while that may make it a strong person’s job, it does NOT make it “a man’s job”.

          • 13thGenPatriot

            I’m good with that.

  • Jonathan Rudy

    Dear Mike Rowe,
    Please allow me to start off by saying how much I enjoy your work, attitude, and ambitions. You are an evangelist for the American worker and our country has great need for what you are preaching. Keep the fire burning my friend.

    Two of my favorite business entities in the US right now are Tesla Motors and SpaceX; both of which have a great and continued need of skilled labor. SpaceX designs, builds, and flies their own rockets. They have a significant need for skilled technicians and laborers to build and test their rockets, including a wide array of welders and metal fabricators. SpaceX recently broke ground on a new launch facility in south Texas and have a very aggressive launch schedule. This all takes a lot of hard work by a skilled and enthusiastic work force.

    Tesla Motors designs and builds all electric vehicles. They are increasing their production capacity, product line, and building a massive plant to fabricate their own batteries. Like SpaceX, this all takes huge amounts of skilled labor.

    These two companies are bringing pride back to American manufacturing but they need more workers than they are able to find. An orbital welder position has been posted by SpaceX since I was knee high to an ant hill.

    Your foundation’s relationship with Caterpillar got me to thinking about how we can extend the reach of your foundation into other industries. My passion of SpaceX and awe of Tesla Motors immediately sprang to mind.

    I hope that you would consider reaching out to these two companies to help provide them with the well trained, well motivated American labor that they so desperately need.

    Your friend in sweat,

    Jon Rudy
    (Everyone just calls me Rudy)

  • random

    i agree with pretty much every thing you’re saying.. except that it just isn’t how the world is. it’s what it should be. me: served in navy, got out and worked at a top tech company. i pictured how things would be when i retired, and started planning what i’d do with my time there. except, i was laid off. because, you see, the problem isn’t so much at the bottom. it’s at the top. i’ve spent countless hours trying to master different things. all to find out later that they (being employers) don’t want skilled laborers. they want fresh people, that they don’t have to pay as much. they want people that don’t know anything, and that they can lay off at whim, and not let retire, since they want to cut costs.

    just thought i’d put my two cents in here, since most people seem to be thanking you. but, no one’s saying how little choice the youngins have, except to branch out and find other fields to work in.

    i love every concept you put out there Mike. but, maybe… just maybe the grease needs to stop going on the bearings, and needs to go on the people.

    (please don’t think i’m giving negative vibes to you. you’re awesome, always <3)

    -Mike

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  • Wilma Duran

    Dear Mike, I love adore, admire, respect, and enjoy you and your show. You are a true American Hero. Thank you.

  • Chris Crawford

    I have been a master stone mason for 4 decades on two continents (had to cross the pond to teach the Americans how to do it right). I am now ready to pass on the trade/s to the next generation to ensure stone masonry and all the other skilled trades have a future as well as the kids willing to learn to them. To that end I have started my own non-profit called Passing on the Trades at http://www.passingonthetrades.weebly.com.

    For all my fellow tradesmen and women I ask that, if you believe the skilled trades are dying out in our high tech society and want to join me in passing them on to the next generation, that you donate to Passing on the Trades where we are apprenticing at-risk-youth, struggling adults and returning veterans. Mike, if you read this my non-profit could use a grant to train thousands as opposed to giving a grant to individuals. I am on a crusade to pass on the trades – who’s with me?! Thank you for your help fellow tradesmen and women!

  • http://www.passingonthetrades.weebly.com Chris Crawford

    I have been a master stone mason for 4 decades on two continents (had to cross the pond to teach the Americans how to do it right). I am now ready to pass on the trade/s to the next generation to ensure stone masonry and all the other skilled trades have a future as well as the kids willing to learn to them. To that end I have started my own non-profit called Passing on the Trades at http://www.passingonthetrades.weebly.com.

    For all my fellow tradesmen and women I ask that, if you believe the skilled trades are dying out in our high tech society and want to join me in passing them on to the next generation, that you donate to Passing on the Trades where we are apprenticing at-risk-youth, struggling adults and returning veterans. Mike, if you read this my non-profit could use a grant to train thousands as opposed to giving a grant to individuals. I am on a crusade to pass on the trades – who’s with me?! Thank you for your help fellow tradesmen and women!

    • narniagirl55

      Love this poster! It should be up in EVERY SINGLE HIGH SCHOOL! Let’s start celebrating skills and not just scholarships to colleges! what good are a bunch of degrees if you can’t get a job and you’re profoundly deep in debt! Let’s get back to making people that DO THINGS that matter…matter! People are more important than the level of job they do…and the work they do is more important than how much they make. The goal….to do ALL THINGS WELL!

      • http://www.passingonthetrades.weebly.com Chris Crawford

        That’s awesome, thanks for your comment Narniagirl55. That’s a great way to put it. Thank you! Let’s get rockin’.

  • Cheryl Smith

    Mike Rowe, you are our hero! But we suspect you are hearing that a lot
    these days. Guess what? We are an American manufacturer right here in your
    backyard of Vienna, VA. Driving Aids Development Corporation (DADC)
    manufacturers hand controls that put disabled drivers back on the road in
    safety, comfort, and style.
    And, we are restoring a 1952 Hudson Hornet, complete with
    hand controls, to share this legendary car’s sweet ride with disabled car
    enthusiasts and racing fans.
    Give us a call if you want to stop by and try your hand at
    the lathe or the drill press – we can always use help with assembly – and we have
    enough safety goggles to go round!
    And anything you can do to help spread the word about our
    1952 Hudson Hornet Restoration Project is greatly appreciated! Learn more here
    - https://fundrazr.com/campaigns/fsPB3/ab/43tnf0.
    Thanks and keep up the great work!

  • http://www.ars.com/ ARS Rescue Rooter

    What does ARS/Rescue Rooter have in common with Mike Rowe? They both know the significance of the skilled worker. Skilled, technical jobs are starting to gain more attention, and with the help of Mike Rowe and his mikeroweWORKSfoundation that will only continue to increase. http://www.ars.com/Blog/November-2014/ARS-Encourages-the-Skilled-Worker-Movement/

  • mike

    This is great. Im 21 years old working at a machine shop in southeastern pennsylvania and 90% of the people i graduated with have gone to college. The push for higher education has become rampant in our middle and high schools throughout the country. However im trying to learn more ( toolmaking, moldmaking, manual machining and welding). Unfortunately in my area no one wants an apprentice, no one wants to train younger people, i would move anywhere in the country just to learn these skills. Just a reminder that there are still younger people who actually want to work! Take care and thanks mike Rowe.

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  • Rachel

    Thank you, Mike, for all of the work you are doing. Having listened to my husband’s woes for the past 13 years about the people he works with not caring to do their job right, you give me hope. My husband is in his 30′s and he has had several meetings where his bosses have actually told him to slow down, that he is making the other workers feel bad that they do not do as good of a job. To which my husband has always replied, “Then make them do better. I come to work to do work. I’m not going to compromise my quality of work for their ego.”

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  • Corey Hardy

    hi i’m 35 years old i have worked in security (government ) and i just moved to private sector and it doesn’t pay crap. am i too old to say learn carpentry, mechanics or plumbing or the like ?

  • Matt Brechwald

    Mike, the article you wrote about your experience in Indianapolis in 2009 was great. I was also confused when the Future Farmers of America became only the FFA. I really appreciate what you are doing for agriculture in the United States. Keep it up!

  • Cheryl Smith

    Have you seen this? This happy disabled driver is using a
    DADC hand control to enjoy rally racing in his MINI Cooper! He just participated
    in the MINIs Take the States from California to Boston!

    http://pvamag.com/sns/article/6694/a_mini_roadtrip

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  • THolm

    I as a woman Have beenin the skilled trades all my life. I started out as a Window Tinter . Better than 90% of the men in the trade. This one takes finesse much more than brute strength, Most trades do. Thinking the trades take less than 100% constant brain power will get you hurt. Really hurt ! Women can do electical , run plumbing lines , set forms and plan landscapes. Btw now I am a skilled Project manager and Construction cost estimator. Another thing we women are really good at organization. Don’t count us out and we lok really cute in jeans, t- shirts and work boots too!

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  • Kimberly Stanfill Cromer

    Mike, I know you are a busy guy and need your naps and all, but are you still in the Peoria area? I have a retired patternmaker (38 years with Caterpillar), who would love to be a part of your Works program and help with an apprentice program. I looked on your mikeroweWORKS foundation website with no luck in finding a way to make a connection.

  • Fern Gray

    Hi Mike- I really like your website and wholeheartedly agree with your mission. I would however, like to share this with you… When I first became a social worker I worked at a high school in northern Ohio. Unfortunately, this high school, like so many others often “dumped” the special education students and/or behavior problem kids in their “technical classes”. I have absolutely NO PROBLEM with special needs children working in skilled trades but it seemed many of the kids in the school where I worked somehow “looked down upon” these types of careers because those types of jobs were reserved for “a certain type of individual”IE: people with disabilities or conduct disorders. I think that maybe the skilled labor shortages may stem from high schools giving skilled trades bad PR. My husband’s brother just made journeyman with the sheet metal workers- he has zero college debt and makes $1.50 more than me! (and I have a Masters degree and over a decade in my field!!!). I included that last statement because I think that would be a good marketing tool! You can make a comfortable living being a skilled trades person and accrue zero debt- what more could you ask for!

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  • Brian Gardner

    I grew up with a bunch of veteran relatives around that made their living as civilians by learning various trades, my father being a machinist. I’m a 22 year old Staff Sergeant, and have been in the US Air Force for nearly five years as a mechanic, and I’m scheduled to cross train into the welding/machining side of operations by next year, after I applied for it due to taking a 4 month welding course at the local community college and falling in love with it.

    Some (majority) of the most successful and happy people my age that I know are the ones who passed on the traditional 4 year college experience. The best example is a close friend of mine from Michigan who is an iron worker, 20 years old, and owns his own house. Pretty much unheard of these days.

    I’m doing my best to put the word out to younger folks still in high school that the best opportunity to them may very well be going into the trades.

  • John D. Saunders

    Hi Mike,

    Do you remember the scene in Caddyshack when Danny Noonan (Michael O’Keefe) asks Ty Webb (Chevy Chase) for some life advice? Danny expresses concern about going to college, the cost being $8,000/year, and that his dad can’t afford it. He then laments that he’s going to “end up working in the lumberyard” the rest of his life.

    I’m asking because that scene closely reflects the issues behind the MRW message as well as a real world situation which exists today in the U.S. building materials industry.

    While I did go to college and earn a psychology and creative writing degree, I’m a fourth generation lumberman and like you, an Eagle Scout. Collectively, my great-grandfather, grandfather, father, and I have our hands in the lumber business here in California for more than 100 years. We are not unique and we count ourselves lucky to be in an industry with so many family-owned multi-generational companies. Some of the most honorable folks I’ve ever met are lumbermen and lumberwomen.

    I learn more about the business everyday working alongside guys who have literally worked at our yard since I was born, in diapers, etc.. They are institutions with vast reservoirs of practical knowledge. You and your foundation have been championing the pursuit of careers which ultimately shape people like this, and I thank you for that. What troubles me, and the primary reason I’m writing to you is that the construction and construction supply industry, like others you’ve publicized, is struggling to attract the next generation. Here’s a current article on the topic: http://www.prosalesmagazine.com/business/management-leadership/vanishing-point_o

    Across the country, I repeatedly have the same conversation with contractors and lumberyard managers and owners- we can’t find enough people willing to work hard, learn about this business, and advance. The men and women in this industry are fortunate to be doing the important work of furnishing the ingredients of the American Dream. In many cases we’re supplying not only the labor and materials but also extending the credit to get the job done.

    For the past eight years, I’ve volunteered for two industry associations and am currently serving as the chairman for the National Lumber and Building Materials Dealers Association. The one year term goes by quickly and I’ve endeavored to do as much as I can to further the cause of the lumber industry.

    Compared to you, I’ve got a short stint and relatively poor lighting on a very small stage with a limited audience. Would you be willing to shine some light on the job opportunities that exist in our industry? I don’t know exactly what “shed some light” looks like, but I bet you do and I’d love to hear from you. Our lumberyard is less than an hour’s drive from San Francisco…you’re welcome to stop in anytime…and feel free to bring Freddy.

    Thank you,

    John D. Saunders
    Campbell, CA

    @jdsaunders