High school students from four parishes, including Calcasieu, demonstrated their skills in the District 9 FFA Craft competition held last week at the ABC Pelican Southwest Training Center.
Students in grades nine through 12 competed in welding, small engines and electrical categories for prizes. The welding and small engines winners will advance to the Area 3 FFA competition, hosted by ABC Pelican, in March.
Keith Hyatt, ABC welding coordinator, said the welds he observed looked great. “I’m very impressed,” he said. “The future is very bright.”
Hyatt noted that there were two girls in the welding competition this year. “We usually have at least one or two girls … somethimes three,” he said. “We really push hard to get more women in construction.”
Hyatt said girls make “some of the best welders.”
“They pay more attention to detail than those guys do,” he said. “Welding is like an art. It’s very, very hard.”
Hyatt said the competition helps prepare students for the weld tests they must pass in order to get a job. He’s been training students for the past 13 years and said it’s a fulfilling job. “At the end of the day, you feel like you’ve made a difference,” he said. “You’re teaching someone a craft and there are a lot of good jobs around here for them.” Hyatt said not all students excel academically. “They come here, where it’s all hands on, and they find themselves in a position they’ve never been in before ... ahead of the class,” he said.
ABC Pelican Chapter has 15 different trade schools throughout Calcasieu Parish.