To the average person, success is accomplishing a goal, or achieving a dream. Some people can succeed on their own, but others need mentors to inspire them to have the confidence to achieve their goals. That is what the Curlew Job Corps is all about: encouraging students and helping them to have the confidence in themselves to successfully complete their two-year course and finish with educational skills, life skills, and vocational skills that will help them to be gainfully employed and able to live on their own.
It is one thing to achieve these goals when you have a stable life, but throw in adversities like broken families, poverty, and other societal woes, and the task seems almost impossible. With mentors like the many dedicated instructors and staff, who find their jobs at the Curlew Job Corps so rewarding, the impossible becomes a reality, as these students overcome obstacles and have a vision to finish.
This month we'd like to share a few of the incredible success stories of some of the Curlew Job Corps students. Though each student that finishes and goes on to be employed is a success story, there are a few students that have risen to the top and are exceptional in their accomplishments.
Former student Austin DenHerder came to the Curlew Job Corps full of energy. Austin enrolled in the Forestry program and spent several weeks at Lost Lake helping the ranger with work in the campground. He stayed at the campground even on the weekends, and by chance, on one of these weekends, he met a wildlife photographer who was staying in the campground. He taught Austin how to take wildlife photographs, and this experience turned Austin’s life around. After graduating from Curlew Job Corps, he bought his own camera, and became a photographer, and made a living by starting his own successful window washing business.
Like Austin, 2002 graduate, Marina Ponce, came to the Curlew Job Corps with formidable adversities. She was twenty years old, a single mother of two, and had to leave her children to enroll in the construction trade at the center. She missed her children so much, that the staff helped her find a rental house in Curlew where she was able to have her children join her while she continued her vocational training.
After graduating, Marina was employed with Active Construction, Inc. out of the Local 440 Laborers Union hall. She worked hard at her job and learned quickly working with the crews. After four years in the field with Active Construction, she was asked by the operations manager to join the team in the office to assist project managers. Marina was given a lot of responsibilities in the office, and even took on tasks that certified project engineers usually performed. She had an insatiable appetite to learn as much as she could. Now being gainfully employed for seven years with the company, Marina hopes to further her education and hopes to become certified.
Adversity doesn’t always have to be the driving factor in success. Brian See graduated from Coeur d’Alene High School with a year of Forestry and a year of advanced Forestry, never thinking he might have a career in that vocation. After graduating, Brian enrolled in the Forestry program at the Curlew Job Corps and learned tree falling and climbing. After completing his Forestry program at Curlew Job Corps, Brian had several jobs that added experience to his fire fighting, tree falling and climbing skills. A job at the Three Sisters Ranger station ended, and a tree cruising and marking job opened in Saint Maries, Idaho. Grace Tree Trimming Service of Coeur d’Alene, Idaho hired him to climb and cut danger trees, and he became a top faller with no restrictions on saw bar length. It seemed that every job he held was fine tuning him for his present job at Yosemite National Park. Today, Brian heads a crew that takes care of the huge Sequoia trees in the park. One of his responsibilities is removing some of the six foot in diameter giants that are danger trees.
Orion Jeske, a local Curlew boy, had tremendous work ethics like Brian See. Enrolling in the Curlew Job Corps Bricklaying program, Orion was a hard worker. After graduating, he worked in masonry for Fairweather Construction in the Seattle area, and later decided to move back to Eastern Washington where he worked for Great Northern Masonry in Spokane. As an apprentice he did everything efficiently and quickly. He came early and stayed late. Orion ran jobs as an apprentice and quickly advanced to journeyman. Today, Orion has his own masonry company in Anchorage, Alaska, and has employed five of the Curlew Job Corps students.
Today, Job Corps continues to inspire leadership like Orion Jeske’s in its students. Current student Anthony Brensinger has taken on leadership positions quickly since arriving at Curlew Job Corps, and seems to have a rosy future ahead. Before he arrived at the center, Anthony had no idea what he wanted to do in life. He had been a varsity wrestler for three years, but got mixed up with the wrong crowd and dropped out of school. Entering the Bricklaying program at the Curlew Job Corps turned his life around and gave him a second chance.
Anthony has a passion for masonry work, and is creative and artistic. He has just designed a barbeque for the center that he hopes to build out of a special river rock. His dad was so impressed with what the center has done for his son that he had a pallet of the special river rocks delivered to the center so Anthony could build his project. His family relationships have been restored, and he hopes to be nominated into the advanced masonry program at the IMI School in Maryland before graduating from the Curlew Job Corps CCC.
Success to some is merely accomplishing a goal or a dream, but to these students success is life itself, as they are able to become confident young adults in an uncertain world.