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Building Trades students preserve history while getting a hands-on education

Building Trades students preserve history while getting a hands-on education

Alfred State students are stepping in to help preserve the history of the nation’s public lands, while also receiving an important real-world, hands-on education.

For the third straight year, building trades: building construction students were able to use class time to help support the US state and federal parks systems. This year, eight students, accompanied by Instructional Support Assistant Mike Hess, traveled to Harriman State Park in Sloatsburg to perform historic preservation work on some of the park buildings.

Another eight students, accompanied by Instructor Brady Adams, just returned from Silver Falls State Park in Sublimity, OR, where they re-roofed a building with wood shingles and enjoyed beautiful hiking trails, waterfalls, and enormous old-growth forests during their off time. Each trip was a weeklong experience where valuable preservation techniques were learned and valuable memories were made.

Both projects were part of an ongoing relationship with HistoriCorps, a nonprofit organization who organizes volunteers “to save and sustain historic places for public benefit,” according to its mission statement.

“Our students have taken part in five HistoriCorps trips over the last three years,” said Jack Jones, chair of the Building Trades Department.

For each of these trips, students stay on site, helping with camp chores such as cooking and cleanup after a hard day’s work.

“We work with HistoriCorps to find projects that best suit our students’ travel needs, skill level, and education,” said Jones. “My goal through this program is to get students outside of the typical campus setting and give them a unique, one-of-a-kind educational experience. The fact that these students are able to contribute to the preservation of our public parks is a bonus.”

In past years, students have worked on HistoriCorps projects in Allegany State Park; Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area, which spans the border of Tennessee and Kentucky; and Malakoff-Diggins State Park in California.

Liz Rice, HistoriCorps workforce manager, said, “HistoriCorps is thrilled to partner with Alfred State College to engage students in historic preservation projects for public benefit. Through this partnership, we can introduce the next generation of builders to the field of heritage conservation and construction, save significant and historic buildings, and give back to communities across the country. This year alone, in Harriman State Park in New York and Silver Falls State Park in Oregon, students and instructors teamed up with HistoriCorps to do the hands-on work necessary to restore buildings constructed by the Civilian Conservation Corps, so that they can continue to serve the public. We look forward to doing more great work together next year.”

Adams, who has chaperoned two HistoriCorps projects, said, “Silver Falls State Park is the oldest running summer camp in the nation. It is easy to see why with its breathtaking, untouched beauty. Working on Historicorps projects is a unique opportunity for our students. They were able to apply skills they have learned in the classroom and lab to contribute to the restoration of the YMCA cabin. It was an honor for us to represent Alfred State College in helping to preserve and maintain such a beautiful Northwestern landmark.”

The Building Trades Department plans to continue working with HistoriCorps to coordinate future opportunities.

“These trips broaden the horizons of our students. For some, this is their first opportunity to see the world beyond their home,” said Jones. “We are happy to give them a new experience, especially if we can do it as part of their education at Alfred State.”

several students standing on scaffolding
Students re-roofed a building at Silver Falls State Park in Oregon as part of a recent applied learning trip. Pictured from left to right are HistoriCorps Project Supervisor Ryan Prochaska, Kane Hoag, Cooper Fournier, Tristan Badger, Foxx Wenzel, Simon Pannullo. John Ramsdell, Brendan Wertz, and HistoriCorps Crew Leader Veronica Bejarano.
several student standing in front of a van wearing helmets
At Harriman State Park in Sloatsburg, students performed historic preservation work on some of the park buildings. Pictured, from left to right, are James Jackson, Alex Hare, Brian Deyell, Sam Myhre, Max O’Connor, HistoriCorps Supervisor Mike Logan, Trevor Aldrich, Matt Smith, Matt Wilson, and Building Trades Instructor Mike Hess.