Students at Blaine High School got a special treat when Kayleen McCabe, host of DIY Network’s “Rescue Renovation,” stopped by the school Jan. 30.
She had spent the weekend sharing fix-it tips and design solutions and answering questions about her television show from her booth at the Minneapolis Home and Remodeling Show at U.S. Bank Stadium.
Eager to entice young people to pursue a career in the trades, she accepted an invitation from BHS industrial technology teacher Tim Nestrud to come to the high school and meet some of his students.
When she got there and saw the school’s student-built house on campus and met some of the young people who crafted the building, she discovered how much passion already exists in students’ hearts for trades like carpentry.
Junior Maddie Soukup, the lone female student in Nestrud’s class, couldn’t wait to tell McCabe how much she loves learning about construction, how proud she is to help build a three-bedroom, two-bathroom 1,500-square-foot house from the ground up and how impressed her mom and dad were when she single-handedly changed an outlet box in her parents’ bathroom.
“It’s so good to know how to do all this, and it’s kind of sad, but people are still surprised when they see a girl do it. Some people still think only guys can do construction – not true,” Soukup said.
Of course, McCabe wholeheartedly agreed.
“I always want to open eyes to what careers are out there, and construction is such a passion for me – I’m so sad I haven’t touched sawdust in a few days. But what’s really sad is that there is such a shortage of people in the trades right now, especially women,” she said.
As students installed electrical outlets, hooked up ventilation and wired can lights overhead, Nestrud told McCabe about the student’s current home-building project.
The current house is the 23rd house BHS students have built; each project begins as the school year opens and is ready for market by the time the school year ends.
“They do it all – electrical, plumbing, HVAC, framing, windows, drywall, finishing. … These kids build the house from the ground up, and we auction it off once it’s finished,” said Nestrud, noting that proceeds from the sale of each house go to fund the following school year’s house-building project.
Telling students “we are desperate for people in the trades now,” McCabe encouraged the young people to pursue construction and assured them that “there are tons of trade jobs out there, and they’re good jobs for good money.”
“Construction — any of the trades — is the most transportable skill you can have. Construction is a gift. It’s a genuine love I have, and I know I’ll be back to support the program here,” she said.
Following her one-on-one interaction with Nestrud’s students, McCabe spoke to a larger audience of students and staff in the BHS auditorium.
“The stuff Tim’s doing here is unique, building homes as part of the classroom lesson. No one does that. No one gives those hands-on lessons. But that’s what’s going on here and these kids are learning the right way to do things, experiencing all the components of construction. That’s unheard of. If I had a construction company, I’d hire them all,” she said.