HBA Members Debunk 4-Year Degree Myth To Promote Trades Careers


by Chelsea Diederich, HBA of F-M Communications Coordinator

The Herdina Academy for the Construction Trades was in full-swing June 5-16 for its 20th anniversary! Fifteen excited, nervous or ambivalent students began the experience for different reasons, but all 15 left impressed with the knowledge gained.

This year the students built a garage for the Fargo Parks Department at Courts Plus and spent time at Minnesota State Community and Technical College learning electrical and plumbing. Students also experienced concrete work at a Camrud-Foss Concrete Const., Inc., worksite and toured Fabricators Unlimited.

The Home Builders Association of F-M and its charity, Home Builders Care of F-M Foundation, are major sponsors of the Academy and have been involved in its coordination since the beginning. A key component of the Academy is scheduling skilled, professional tradespeople who volunteer their time to work with the students as they complete the project. It is an experience the students generally do not receive in their construction classes at high school.

Dave Anderson, Dave Anderson Construction, is an active Academy volunteer. “I enjoy teaching the students skills that they have never been exposed to or experienced. It is important to show the students that the trades are meaningful, valuable occupations that allow you to create something with your intellect and skills,”he says.

He along with 15 other people from different organizations are on the steering committee that helps make decisions for the Herdina Academy. “I serve on the steering committee because I believe there should be HBA members to speak for the needs of the construction industry. I would like to see more members participate on the committee and provide input for the direction of the academy,” Anderson says.

HBA member Dave Anderson, Dave Anderson Construction, works with students during the Herdina Academy for the Construction Trades.

“There is an opportunity with these students to advise and direct them into the trades. It is up to us as skilled trades people and construction company owners to take some responsibility for the future of our industry. So I encourage all HBA members to take part in the Herdina Academy in some way.”

Ryan Hoss, Matrix Properties, is a long-time HBA member who has helped with the Herdina Academy for many years. He believes there is too much emphasis on four-year degrees and believes there is more to education than learning from a book.

“I believe that everyone needs to develop skills and find ways to be creative. Working in the trades allows you to be creative and see things in three dimensions. You get to implement the thought and drawing and make it come to life! There is equal opportunity within all the trades. You can be self-employed, set your own hours and make good money,” Hoss says.

Not every student that takes the two-week construction course has decided they want to work in the trades, but this academy allows the opportunity to find out if it fits with their personality, and if not, they still leave with valuable life experience.

“The Herdina Academy is important because, even if students don’t plan to go into the trades, they develop skills and knowledge for their own homes. They will know enough to know what to expect from contractors,” he says.

Hoss’s advice to students unsure of what their future holds… “find something you are passionate about and pursue it!”

Click here to visit the Academy’s Facebook page and see photo highlights from June. Be sure to “like” the page while you’re there.

HBA of F-M members who wish to become involved in the Academy, or to “Adopt a Student,” should contact the HBA of F-M at (701) 232-5846 or info@hbafm.com.

The next Academy will be June 4-15, 2018, at Minnesota State Community and Technical College in Moorhead. Students interested in attending should contact the HBA of F-M at (701) 232-5846 or info@hbafm.com.

What the students have to say…

  • Nick, age 15
    I heard about the Academy from my grandfather who saw it on the news. I was “iffy” about it at the beginning since it would take place over the first two weeks of my summer break, but it ended up being a fun experience. (Electrical was his favorite.)
  • Grant, age 16
    I would definitely recommend the Academy to my peers. It taught me a lot of things I didn’t know. Drafting was my favorite part; I enjoyed working with a 3D design on the computer.
  • Zach, age 15
    My mom found out about it, and since I have grandparents that live here, I stayed with them so I could attend the Academy. I knew that three credits for $25 sounded a lot better than $1,000+.
Students work on framing the garage walls during the Herdina Academy for the Construction Trades.