Crownpoint, NM - While many students were enjoying their much anticipated fall break at Navajo Technical University, students from the SkillsUSA NTU Chapter were diligently applying their skills to assist with some modifications and improvements at the Wild Spirit Wolf Sanctuary at Candy Kitchen, NM.
From October 12-14, 2017, the students from various disciplines in trades programs at NTU were at the wolf refuge preparing for their Statesmen Awards by working on relevant assignments. Students have been supporting the sanctuary throughout the year and have been returning to complete projects that were still in progress. Julie Bales, advisor for the SkillsUSA at NTU, was at the refuge with the students facilitating their tasks.
“Last year students from the SkillsUSA attended the [leadership] conference in Carlsbad, this year we decided to come to Wild Spirit and utilize their skills to help improve areas that needed some work,” explained Bales. “They are a talented group and are able to use what they’ve learned to help communities in the area and this is a great place for them to do that.”
Each year, members of the SkillsUSA at NTU attend the New Mexico statewide outreach leadership conference to earn their Statesman Award, a recognition granted in their respective trades they are studying. The student organization at NTU did not attend this year, but decided to recognize its own members at the wolf refuge.
The various projects the students completed over the weekend ranged from repairing the decks of a cabin, making modifications to a wolf enclosure, and cleaning in and around selected cabins. Located near Ramah, NM, the sanctuary has been providing its services to the region for over 60 years. With limited resources, the non-profit refuge relies largely on volunteers to continue its operations. Marrell Charley, Early Childhood Multicultural Education major at NTU, was part of the team that helped maintain the cabins.
“We cleaned the inside and around some of the cabins,” said Charley. “Some of the guys worked on replacing the decks and put up a rail, too. As a member of SkillsUSA, we work on teambuilding concepts that enable us to work interdisciplinary with other members.”
The students were invited to work at the Wild Spirit in April to place some fencing of some wolf enclosures at the refuge. During the weekend, some of the students assembled frames that were welded by other NTU students. The frames were constructed to increase the height of one wolf enclosure. Aaron John, Building Information Modeling and Electrical Engineering major, was also at the refuge assisting on various projects including the enclosure project.
“What I consider really important about when we go out and volunteer, whether it’s on our own or during fall conference, is that it gives students a chance to broaden their skill sets while exploring other fields while working together. Most importantly we gain leadership skills,“ John said.
At Navajo Technical University the SkillsUSA chapter has 30 active members with 13 of the members volunteering at Wild Spirit. The diverse group of students consisted of Culinary Arts majors Randy White, Garilyn Moore, Ferlin Keedo, and Emerson Jake; Automotive Technology majors Pashen Quintana and Mario Gordo; Electrical Trades major Ivan Holiday; Construction Technology major Gregory Gruber; Welding and Electrical Engineering major Victor Billy; Engineering major Gerard Emerson; and Welding major Ericson Chavez.
SkillsUSA serves more than 300,000 students and instructors annually. The organization has 13,000 school chapters in 54 state and territorial associations. More than 14,500 instructors and administrators are professional members of SkillsUSA. For more information about NTU’s SkillsUSA chapter contact Julie Bales at firstname.lastname@example.org.