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Growing Vocational Skills at Huntsville Botanical Garden

ABOVE Students get a safety briefing and then marvel at structural steel at the Huntsville Botanical Garden.
 

Nearly 50 students from the Limestone County Career Technical Center took some time recently to learn the ropes from skilled tradesmen with Turner Construction at Huntsville Botanical Garden’s new 30,000-square-foot Guest Welcome Center. The building, devised to resemble a traditional Southern-style home, has been under construction for 12 months and will open this spring.

A 3,500-square-foot atrium will highlight the entrance and plans call for a café with indoor and outdoor seating, as well as a gift shop and open mezzanine to offer gallery space for exhibits. The students, who typically spend half their day in vocational classes and the other half at work sites, participated in safety training, got a tour of the project and had face-to-face interaction with construction workers.

Turner Construction has 16 divisions and 12 were on site that day, Trades Manager Rocky Rose says, showing off carpentry, structural steel, HVAC, painting and dirt work. “They got a chance to see what we do day in and day out, and ask questions specific to where their tastes might run at school.”

Construction jobs at Turner start around $12 to $13 an hour, Rose says, based on experience, but can go up to $24 an hour with “serious commitment” at a technical school. Providing exposure to such real-life work environments is vital, according to instructors at Limestone County Career Tech, who have seen enrollment go from 525 students in 2013 to 900
this year. 

Turner Construction, Matheny Goldmon Architecture + Interiors, 4Site Inc., PEC Structural Engineering and SSOE Group are partnering on the build. 

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