High school girls discover the construction industry through a hands-on summer program
Twelve Kansas City high school girls attended Camp NAWIC, a unique summer camp designed to introduce them to the construction industry. The Kansas City chapter of the National Association of Women in Construction (NAWIC) organized the program. Kiewit Power Constructors Co. (KPC) has made donations to the camp for the past seven years it has been held.
Camp NAWIC teaches girls basic carpentry, electrical and welding skills through a series of hands-on activities. This year’s projects included tack welding signs made of copper pipe, wiring lamps, and operating a 90-pound jackhammer and a mini-excavator.
Shannon Streeter, a contract supply specialist for Kiewit Supply Network and member of NAWIC, believes the camp helps girls discover career options within construction they may not have considered.
“I don’t remember anything like this being around when I was in high school, at least not focused towards girls,” explained Streeter. “With craft and trades diminishing, this gives the girls exposure before making decisions on which direction they are going to go. We also try to introduce many aspects of the business so the girls know you can be a lawyer in construction, an accountant, or do procurement. You can be in the field or the office – or both!”
Streeter was one of several volunteers who helped create activities for Camp NAWIC. She organized a jobsite tour of a power plant constructed in part by KPC. During the tour, the girls met women who worked on different parts of the build.
“It gives them the encouragement that they are not alone if this is something they choose to go into,” said Streeter.
John Jennings, president of KPC, was the keynote speaker at the camp’s graduation luncheon and accepted an award for Kiewit’s commitment to education and diversity in the construction industry.
“The opportunities for women in construction are infinite” said Jennings. “Programs like Camp NAWIC, where professional women are teaching young girls about their craft and exposing them to the construction industry has a huge impact and KPC is honored to support those efforts.”
And if the girls choose to not pursue construction? Streeter explains that Camp NAWIC teaches much more than craft skills.
“Everyone should have some sort of exposure to construction to have an appreciation for the industry itself. We want girls to know that there are women in this industry. But also, that we want to hone in and learn our craft, trade or profession really well to represent women and be well-rounded.”