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New Hampshire Construction Career Days Returns in 2022

Meghan Theriault
Meghan Theriault
New Hampshire’s Construction Career Days (NHCCD) makes its return on September 22 and 23, at the Hillsborough County Youth Center in New Boston, New Hampshire. It is expected that over 850 high school students will be in attendance per day from throughout the Granite State. In the first 90-minutes after registration opened, there were already 600 students registered. Two weeks after registration opened, school registrations were closed with 2,200 students registered. There is currently a waitlist.

Construction professionals from both public and private, union and open shops, small business and multi-million-dollar companies, the tradespeople and the heavy equipment operators, the engineers and the laborers, plus secondary educational institutions and apprenticeship programs are represented.

“We have successfully brought under one roof, every aspect of the industry for our students to experience for just a few short hours. If the job touches construction, it’s here for the students to experience,” says Catherine Schoenenberger, Founder and President of NHCCD. “It’s amazing to watch how the kid that gets off the bus in morning with the teenage ‘this isn’t for me attitude’ get back on the bus less than four hours later, elated and eager to learn more about what a career in construction could mean for them.”

Construction Career Day events are workforce development tools that introduce high school students to the transportation construction industry and support the pipeline that will provide the professionals of tomorrow. This event increases career awareness through hands-on experience with heavy equipment, welding, small tools, plumbing, electrical wiring, carpentry, surveying, bridge construction, underground utilities, and other construction related jobs.

From 2009 through 2019, well over 11,000 New Hampshire students have participated in these events. At the core, NHCCD events promote hands on activities, safety, diversity, partnerships and teamwork, continuous improvement, and follow up with all of the students participating.

Meet the Lead Coordinators and Directors
Meghan Theriault, NHCCD Director
Theriault is one of the primary forces behind the success of NHCCD. A NHCCD Director since 2010, Theriault is the charge behind the ever-expanding number of exhibitors each year. She is currently the Director of Public Works in Gilford, New Hampshire. She graduated from University of New Hampshire with a Bachelor of Science degree in civil engineering and is a licensed professional engineer.
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She began her career in the private sector an engineering consultant, but found her true calling in the public sector as Town Engineer and eventually Public Works Director in Goffstown. She is active with National Association of Women in Construction (NAWIC), the New Hampshire Good Roads Association and the American Public Works Association (APWA).

“Without a doubt my favorite event of the year is always NH Construction Career Days,” said Theriault. “This event is so powerful and rewarding for all in attendance due to the exposure, choices, engagement, and personal interactions shared between attendees. Most students are only exposed to well-known career choices between kindergarten and senior year such as becoming a fireman, policeman, lawyer, doctor, nurse, teacher, engineer, finance or businessperson. The construction and transportation industry are typically not covered in any kind of depth even well into high school unless students seek out CTE classes.

“As directors, we work hard to fill the gaps of industry representation so that there is something for everyone. No matter the interest or inquisitiveness – or lack thereof initially – NHCCD is an event that is sure to spark interest in the construction and transportation industry.

“NHCCD provides a platform for students to learn about construction related jobs that earn a very competitive salary without all the college debt or stress of a four-year degree program. There are certification programs, apprenticeship programs and two-year degree programs as just some options in addition to a standard four-year degree program to explore.”

Eric Gustafson, Director of Hands-on Equipment Operations
Gustafson is a young professional Engineering Technician (ET) at the Town of Goffstown, New Hampshire’s Department of Public Works. He started at the department right out of high school as an engineering intern. After graduating from NHTI in Concord, New Hampshire, with an Associate’s Degree in architectural and civil engineering technology, he was hired full time eight years ago. Gustafson’s primary ET responsibilities include plan design, construction oversight, permitting, and general town wide engineering problem solving.

Gustafson became involved with NH Construction Career Days while he was an intern at Goffstown. He has proven to be an invaluable asset. His attention to detail and his relatability with the students who attend, have been key reasons why this event is so revered by all who are involved.

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“My main thought every year is ‘I wish my high school attended this event when I was in school.’”, said Gustafson. “I see how students are able to interact with all of the exhibitors at the event. Students get to ask questions and then listen to the professional in front of them describe their pathway to a career in construction. Some students who attend the event may talk to an engineer and move on to a college degree and a desk job. Other students may talk to an excavator operator, actually operate the equipment, and choose a seat in a piece of equipment as their path.

“Each student leaves the NHCCD event with a unique take away, and new perspective on what their own successful career path may look like. That is what makes this event awesome…the opportunities for exploration. Without those opportunities, some will probably never even consider a dream career could be found in our industry.”

Jennifer Landon, Lead Coordinator
For the past six years, Jennifer Landon has served as Vice President of Education and Workforce Development for the Associated Builders and Contractors, New Hampshire/Vermont Chapter (ABC/NHVT). She’s been a lead coordinator with NHCCD for as many years. Her professional path has a strong educational track. She holds a master’s degree in education career and life skills and a bachelor’s in business management and leadership.

Landon’s leadership is also shared within NAWIC, the I Build NH initiative, and University of New Hampshire/Manchester.

“One of my favorite experiences was seeing the smile of a young refugee female student, as she learned how to operate a pneumatic roller used in highway construction,” said Landon. “Where else would she have been able to have such an opportunity?

“About 25 years ago, there was a national campaign that stated people with a four-year degree will make a million dollars more over their lifetime over someone with just a high school diploma. The skilled trades got a bad rap as they were seen as low-skill, low wage jobs. I challenge anyone to the contrary. Have you ever opened a door or taken a shower? Entered a school, hospital, grocery store or manufacturer? Driven over a bridge or walked across the street? If you stop and take a look around you, you’ll discover that construction touches our lives every single day.

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“NHCCD is the perfect way for students to explore the many career opportunities in the construction industry. It is by far, a favorite annual even for high school-aged students, educators and industry representatives alike. Every exhibitor provides a fun hands-on activity that allows students to experience their given trade from pipe bending to masonry to the challenge of balancing a ball on a forklift and placing it on a safety cone.”

NH Construction Career Days' Snapshot
  • Established 2009, 501(c) 3 nonprofit corporation
  • Founder: Catherine Schoenenberger
  • Directors: Meghan Theriault, Eric Gustafson
  • Coordinator: Jennifer Landon
  • Since inception, over 11,000 NH High School Students served
2019 Event by the Numbers
  • 1,553 students from 57 different NH programs, 1 from Vermont
  • Female Students: 19.4 percent
  • Minority Students: 14.5 percent
  • 101 exhibitors with 37 pieces of live heavy equipment
  • 300 exhibitor representatives; 50 volunteers; 237 chaperones

Get involved. Make a difference. Please go to nhccd.weebly.com for more information, or contact Catherine Schoenenberger at nh-ccd@hotmail.com.

Maine Construction Career Day will take place October 6, 2022, in West Bath, Maine. For more information contact MCCD@nawicmaine.org or go to NAWICMaine.org.

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