Idaho Falls High School sophomore Yaremi Alvarez spent Thursday afternoon sawing wood and using a nail gun to build a shed in the Home Depot parking lot.
He wasn’t the only one, either.
Forty-nine participants from all over eastern Idaho — including students South Fremont, Rigby, Skyline and even Clark County high schools — put their handyman and woodworking skills to use Wednesday and Thursday during the inaugural Construction Combine put on by the College of Eastern Idaho.
“It’s pretty nice to stand back and say, ‘Yeah, I did that,’” said Alvarez, holding a nail gun as he stood near the shed he worked on from about 9 a.m. to about 2 p.m. with five other students.
He said it was his first time building anything.
The two-day event’s purpose was to get mainly high school and college-age participants to learn construction skills — including plumbing, wiring and roofing — through four different classes before they split into groups to build 10 wooden sheds that will be donated to local disabled veterans and veteran support organizations.
Forty contractors were on hand to help guide participants during the construction process and help them potentially land a summer construction job.
“It’s a fun experience because you get to meet new friends and new people,” Oscar Mendoza said.
Mendoza, a senior from Clark County Junior-Senior High School in Dubois, said the event was “something new” for him and his classmates. He made the hour-and-40-minute round-trip drive to Idaho Falls twice just to get a chance to improve his masonry skills.
“That first day I learned a lot,” Mendoza said. “Now I know quite a bit. I know how to roof, how to put up framework and drywall.”
Paul Howarth, a 65-year-old man from Victor, said he does construction as a side gig. He said he still learned valuable new insights on indoor fiber optic cables and plumbing from the event.
“I’m just an old dog learning some new tricks,” Howarth said as his team drilled in a door hinge onto the shed they were working on.
College of Eastern Idaho Programs Director Debbie Borek said the community college expects to host the event again next year. Seventy-two participants signed up, she added.
“It was very well put together,” said Rael Fischer, a Rigby High School junior. “I felt like a lot of the work that was put into organizing this event was very well done.”