CCC students gain construction experience while helping Habitat for Humanity

Both he and Myers said the construction industry in Coconino County is in desperate need of skilled workers.

Circular saws turn and cut. Nail guns go “PSHHT!” Sawdust floats in the air. Safety glasses are securely in place and all conversations are shouted.

“Nail it there,” Carrie Oakason yells over the noise. She is a student in the Construction Technology Management program at Coconino Community College and is a project manager on building panels for a new “starter house” for Habitat for Humanity of Northern Arizona.

“I feel like I’m really lucky to have found CCC,” Oakason said. “The projects are exciting and relevant and correspond exactly to what I want to do.”

Instructor Ken Myers said Oakason and his classmates will spend the semester building the panels in the studio on the Fourth Street campus before joining builder Buzzard Construction at the site where the Starter House will be built on the corner. of O’Leary Street and Butler. Street. He added that the partnership with HFHNA will give students valuable training for the real world and help the community meet affordable housing needs with Habitat’s Starter Home idea.

“When you have a single project that meets two major community needs — from an instructor’s perspective, that partnership is more valuable than gold,” Myers said.

Eric Wolverton, Executive Director of HFHNA, said, “This is a mutually supportive partnership, with Habitat covering all material costs and CCC providing the majority of the labor, saving both the money from Habitat and CCC and making Starter Homes even more affordable.

He added that contractors, like Buzzard Construction, working on the homes will provide additional professional supervision during instruction to help Myers and directly recruit students for employment before they even graduate from CCC.

Brian Buzzard, owner of Buzzard Construction, came to the class to offer his expertise in building the modular pieces that will be assembled on site. Buzzard is a graduate of Northern Arizona University’s Construction Technology Management program, and he said he was excited to work with the CCC students on the project. He said he got a lot of help getting onto the pitch, so he wanted to ‘teach it from the front’.

“I like what I see, so I’ll try to be here every class,” Buzzard said. “Construction as a career field is worth it if they stick with it.”

Both he and Myers said the construction industry in Coconino County is in desperate need of skilled workers.

Wolverton said that while students learn the importance of giving back to the communities in which they live, they also learn service.

Myers added: “Students who come to CCC are here to learn the skills to get a job, to be able to have enough money to start or raise a family. When you can build something tangible that benefits your community and helps someone else achieve the same goal, that’s huge! »

Oakason, who returned to school to fulfill a dream, found a love for building and regularly takes on projects, mostly renovations.

“I should have done this 25 years ago,” she said. “I’m doing what I was really supposed to do. Everyone around me said I should get my contractor’s license, so why keep fighting? »

Oakason said beyond the basics of the construction trades, she also learns the skills she needs to achieve her goal. As a project manager, she also acquires skills in leadership, verbal communication and teamwork.

Skills taught to students include jobsite safety, hazard recognition, blueprint reading, building code applications, modern framing techniques, surveying, building layout and more.

Wolverton said the Starter Home concept is to help young families be able to access home ownership so they can build enough wealth to move to a bigger home or start a business. The houses are 400 square feet, placed in partnership with the city or with other organizations that have land to build on. There’s room for two adults and a child, and Habitat is selling the house for $100,000 to a family with qualifying income. The family puts down a $1,000 down payment and pays $833 a month on a zero percent mortgage. When the owner wishes to “cash in”, they must resell the house to Habitat, so that the house can be sold to new families entering the market.

Plans for the future definitely involve growth, Wolverton said.

Myers added that he is thrilled for his future students and the opportunity to be of service to the community. “I hope they can take that feeling with them and continue to be the solution to building a better world.”

Ms. Oakason said she enjoys Habitat’s work on two fronts: learning and helping her community.

“That’s exactly what Flagstaff needs,” she smiles. NBF

By Larry Hendricks, FBN

For more information about construction trades at Coconino Community College, visit For more information about Habitat for Humanity, visit

Larry Hendricks is the Senior Director of Public Relations and Marketing at Coconino Community College.

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