Pequot Lakes High School took time to recognize students paving their path into the workforce, as well as the local businesses helping them do it.

The Building Trades Career Pathway Program, run by Rural Minnesota Concentrated Employment Program, offers funding for up to 10 students at two schools - Pequot Lakes and Pillager - to get hands-on job experience before graduation.

On Wednesday, April 7, PLHS hosted participating business owners and presented them with plaques as a way to thank them for their role in aiding Pequot Lakes students.


"We particularly appreciate how it is so personalized to the needs of the students - some work in construction and some are more in plumbing or landscaping. That's exactly what we're trying to do as we personalize learning for our students."

— Pequot Lakes Superintendent Chris Lindholm


“The point of it was to recognize the support that we've received from employers,” said Amy Sjoblad, career adviser supervisor at Rural Minnesota CEP and Pequot Lakes School Board member. “It was also an opportunity for all of us that have been involved in creating this program to hear from the students how it's benefited them and it was just so pleasant.”

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Sjoblad devised the program as a means to give students an advantage as they look for full-time employment. She wrote a grant for the program to take place at the two schools with which she works — Pequot Lakes and Pillager. The Bernick Family Foundation offered this year’s funding with a grant of $25,000.

The Bernick Family Foundation gives out roughly $150,000 in community grants each year.

“It is a very meaningful and robust experience for the students that get a chance to participate in it,” Pequot Lakes Superintendent Chris Lindholm said. “We particularly appreciate how it is so personalized to the needs of the students - some work in construction and some are more in plumbing or landscaping. That's exactly what we're trying to do as we personalize learning for our students.”


"Not every student wants or should get a four-year degree, and the two schools that are involved with this program are really honing in on the fact that a four-year degree is not for everyone and apprenticeship is often considered the ‘other’ four-year degree - an earn-while-you-learn model with no student loan debt."

— Amy Sjoblad, Rural Minnesota CEP


Four Pequot Lakes students - Vinny Sposito, Tommy Franz, Logan Medjrich and Keean Kerger - have taken on internship roles at local businesses to learn the trade. Sposito has worked with Advanced Plumbing & Heating in Pequot Lakes, Kerger with Lands End Development in Crosslake, while Franz and Medjrich both work with Dan Miller Construction in Crosslake.

“Pretty much everybody is hiring in construction, and it is at every level, which is key for our students,” Sjoblad said. “Not every student wants or should get a four-year degree, and the two schools that are involved with this program are really honing in on the fact that a four-year degree is not for everyone and apprenticeship is often considered the ‘other’ four-year degree - an earn-while-you-learn model with no student loan debt.”

In addition to the four students working in apprenticeships, Lindholm said there are 15 to 20 students in total with some form of workforce internship - giving them some avenue into the workforce after graduating.

“The number of people leaving the workforce is 20 times more than the number of people entering the workforce, just due to demographics,” Lindholm said. “People are going to be desperate for employees and that that's a big deal for an employer to create their own pipeline for labor.”

Dan Determan may be reached at 218-855-5879 or dan.determan@pineandlakes.com. Follow him on Facebook and on Twitter at www.twitter.com/@PEJ_Dan.