Fairmont school officials recently announced that CHS Processing and Food Ingredients is donating $100,000 towards the implementation of a construction trades academy at Fairmont High School, located in south central Minnesota.
"Fairmont Area Schools is greatly appreciative of the generous donation from CHS as we work toward our goal to construct an 80- by 100-foot building," says superintendent Joseph Brown. "This building will be the core of our year-round Construction Trades Academy. It will provide our students with the space they need to build homes for Habitat for Humanity and to construct agricultural buildings."
Brown views receipt of this large donation as a classic example of the private sector and the public sector working collaboratively together to build a better future for Minnesota.
"Students need a pathway for skilled jobs and the private sector needs skilled workers,” Brown says. “Together, this partnership will be a model for other high schools and businesses that are working together to provide greater opportunities for their schools and their community.”
Representatives of CHS toured the vocational wing of Fairmont High School on Sept. 3 and were impressed with the vision of Fairmont Area Schools in developing the Agriculture Academy, Welding Academy, Automotive Academy and the future Construction Trades Academy.
CHS operates a soybean processing plant 1 mile west of Fairmont.
"The proposed Fairmont High School building trades academy demonstrates an innovative, inclusive approach that will help students prepare for a variety of skilled trade positions," says Tom Malecha, CHS senior vice president, Processing and Food Ingredients. "CHS supports many rural youth educational and leadership programs, and the Fairmont High School project aligns with our intention to work together for shared success and to strengthen our communities."
Over the next 48 months, CHS officials noted that Minnesota needs to replace more than 200,000 skilled workers due to baby boomers retiring from a wide range of vocations. Multiple high schools in south central Minnesota have expanded their vocational programs, including Fairmont, Kasson-Mantorville, Hutchinson, St. Peter, New Ulm and Redwood Valley.
Brandon Nordstrom, plant manager at the CHS Fairmont soybean processing plant, said he knows firsthand the importance of a skilled workforce.
"CHS is excited to work with local educators and other companies to bring this important curriculum to our students," he says. "Growing, vibrant businesses depend on a steady source of qualified applicants that are fully prepared to get good jobs in our community."