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Project Heavy Duty seeks support for restart

Work site, sponsors needed for high school program giving students interested in industry a chance to log hours on a job site
Hudson’s Hope student Austin Douglas hangs on while operator Don Goodbun explains how to operate a excavator as part of Project Heavy Duty in 2017.

A popular high school program giving Fort St. John students real world work experience in heavy duty construction is looking to dig back into the dirt post-pandemic.

Jeff Mayer has taken over Project Heavy Duty at North Peace Secondary from retiring program co-ordinator Richard Koop.

Mayer says he’s starting from scratch, looking for potential work site partners and sponsors to get the program up and running for the spring.

“It’s pretty exciting,” he says. “It’s a big learning curve.”

The program began in 2002 and is technically going into its 18th year, the last two years lost to the Covid-19 pandemic.

In recent years, students have cleared and prepped land for the new Ma Murray school and the new Canadian Tire development on Old Fort Road.

The week-long program each May gives students behind-the-wheel experience working with excavators, rock trucks, graders, packers, and other heavy equipment. Safety and machine maintenance lessons are also part of the learning.

“It’s been a really big community event for a long time,” says Mayer. “People donate equipment, machinery, fuel, the whole nine yards.”

There are just 15 spots for students, who have to apply to the program with a cover letter and references, just like they would have to do in the real world.

“There’s pent up demand,” says Mayer. “I’ve got a lot of kids interested in this program.”

Businesses interested in supporting the program can email Mayer at, or call him at the school, 250-785-4429 ext. 323.

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