Annual CANCO challenge puts high-schoolers' skills to the test

The 2023 Carl A. Nelson & Company High School Skills Challenge, held Oct. 5, 2023, at CANCO's warehouse in Burlington, Iowa, pitted five southeast Iowa high schools against one another in a demonstration of the knowledge they have gained in their construction trades classrooms. CANCO

8 months, 1 week ago

Construction trades students from five SE Iowa high schools were given the task to frame and drywall adjoining metal stud walls with window, door openings.

BURLINGTON, Iowa — Carl A. Nelson & Company's annual High School Skills Challenge brought students from Burlington, West Burlington, Mediapolis, Fort Madison and Keokuk together Oct. 5, 2023, to test the skills they are learning in their schools' construction trades classes, and would use on real-world commercial construction projects. After 3 1/2 hours spent working in teams of five, framing and drywalling metal stud wall segments with window and door openings, the team from Fort Madison High School came out on top.

In the latest victory for their school, the team of Taylor Huffman, Ben Blanchard, Ames Schinstock, Hadley Johnson and Caden Hudson, claimed the first-place prize of a $300 Lowe's gift card to purchase tools and materials for their program, and individual prizes of tin snips and vice grip clamps. Their teacher is Michael Schinstock.

It was the sixth time in the seven years the challenge has been conducted that Fort Madison has been judged to have the best project. Placing second and earning a $200 Lowe's gift card for their program was the team from Keokuk High School.

CANCO General Superintendent Mike Harris, who organized the event and took part in the judging along with Southeastern Community College construction trades instructor Doug Riley, said there was "a lot of really good work done by the kids. It was impressive to see them do it." 

The annual event is part of the company's broader outreach to high school construction trades programs in the Burlington area, which has the goal of helping to sustain and grow those programs while also identifying possible future employees. To learn more about employment opportunities with Carl A. Nelson & Company, including internships that are available to 18-year-old high school students, visit our careers page.

Carl A. Nelson & Company is currently leading construction management projects at Burlington High School and for the Fort Madison Community School District, and wrapped up work earlier this year on projects for the Keokuk Community School District.

Taking home the first-place prize was the Fort Madison High School team of, from left,  Taylor Huffman, Ben Blanchard, Ames Schinstock, Hadley Johnson and Caden Hudson. At right is their teacher, Michael Schinstock. CANCO

Members of the team from Mediapolis High School work at hanging drywall on their metal stud wall during the Carl A. Nelson & Company High School Skills Challenge, held Oct. 5, at the company's warehouse in Burlington, Iowa. CANCO

Each of the teams competing in the 2023 High School Skills Challenge at the Carl A. Nelson & Company warehouse on Oct. 5, 2023, in Burlington, was challenged to build adjoining metal stud walls and hang drywall, with openings for a door and a window. CANCO