Durant prepping students for trades


Thanks to generosity from several area businesses and organizations, coupled with a vision of expanding the ACE mentoring program, Durant High School now has a skid steer as part of its industrial arts arsenal.

Durant industrial arts teacher and ACE adviser Tim Rouse has partnered with several entities in recent years to provide home building opportunities for students at Durant, and it has become popular among those taking industrial arts classes.

There are anywhere from 140-160 students at Durant taking industrial arts courses, with around 20 students belonging to the ACE program.

“In previous years, we added to the ACE program by building a house with ICHBA and REACH for your Potential in Iowa City,” said Rouse. “Every year we try to expand the program, and this year we have added building mock rooms in the classroom, as well as some basic framing, basic plumbing and electrical to instruct on some fundamentals of home repair.”

With the grant writing help of Maria Brown, Durant’s director of instruction and innovation, coupled with grants and donations, the school was able to purchase a skid steer. Rouse says it’s the first of three pieces of equipment to teach a residential construction class.

To date, more than $27,000 has been raised.

The skid steer is a 1650 Mustang purchased from Star Equipment. “I purchased the skid steer and a trailer to haul it on. The total cost was $26,775. That was phase one in our 3-phase plan,” said Rouse. “Stewardship Grant CHS/River Valley was $5,000, Leland Smith Foundation $10,000, Durant Education Foundation $1,500, Cedar County Community Foundation $7,500. The rest was cash donations from Liberty Trust & Savings Bank in Durant, Hills Bank & Trust Company, Corteva – Pioneer, and Star Equipment. The balance of funds we have placed toward phase two. We have about $7,000 raised for phase two which will be a mini excavator.”

Aside from the mini excavator, Rouse is also raising funds to purchase a (scissor style) lift.

“This equipment will not only make several projects on-site easier and expand student skills, it will make the work safer for the students,” said Rouse. “The goal of the school is to teach students how to operate and use the skid steer safely. Students working on the summer job site will be prepared to use the equipment instead of learning about it during their pre-apprenticeship class through Kirkwood.”

“In the coming year, we will continue to search for additional funding to purchase phase two equipment. For now, I have been working with Tim Ruth of McCreedy and Ruth Construction on the use of a mini excavator until we can purchase our own,” said Rouse. “Star Equipment has also offered to work with us on use of some additional equipment to keep the training process moving in a positive direction.”

Rouse is also planning a fall event where community members can visit the school and see some of the equipment, plus some heavy machinery from other local companies, on display.