Trade student Lucas Wheeler has rolled up his sleeves and is ready to wire.
"I really like the competition. It's like real world activities but you actually get to do it in a competition setting," Wheeler said.
The River Bend Career and Tech Center student is one of dozens of young tradesmen from across Vermont who turned out to Camp Johnson Thursday for the SkillsUSA competition. The daylong challenge put their technical skills to the test.
"Just get as much done as I can as quick as I can, as accurate as I can, just do it the best as I can," Wheeler said.
Adam Crawford took the top prize for plumbing last year. This year, the Barre Technical Center student set his sights on the electrical category.
"I have been doing a lot of practicing, day in and day out, bending conduit, running circuits, running wire. It's a lot of hard work to get to where I am," Crawford said.
Professional tradesmen from across the state served as this year's judges.
"It's good to see young people coming up in the trades," Jeff Norway said.
Norway works for his family-owned contracting business, Norway and Sons Electrical Contractors, out of Barre. He says he's been impressed with the skills on display and that some of these competitors could land real-world employment in a matter of months.
"Probably this summer even, if they are out of high school, definitely. And not just myself, the other judges here have companies also," Norway said.
Win or lose, these kids say the training and activities are worth it.
"It's a good, fun, challenging job," Crawford said.
And that craft comes with benefits you might not expect.
"I like the art behind it," Wheeler said. "There's a lot more, you can be nice and neat with your wire and you can bend your pipe. It's art, more than just a job."
The winner here will take their skills to the National competition in Kansas City later this year.
Preliminary results show Jason Machia from Green Mountain Technology and Career Center came in first in the electrical competition. Dillon Sleeper of Barre Tech was second and Lucas Robillard of St. Johnsbury Academy was third.
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