Kids build birdhouses and confidence


Last Saturday the hands busy at work at the Jerry Alander Training Center were a little bit smaller than usual. The center was filled with young children who were getting their first taste of woodworking.

The North Central States Regional Council of Carpenters opened up the doors of its carpenter training center in Hermantown to children and their parents for the first "Kids Build" weekend workshop.

Kids Build events are two-hour workshops 10 a.m. to noon on the third Saturday of every month from September 2016 to May 2017 for children ages 5-12. Projects include building a small bench, bookends, tool box, key holder/jewelry hanger, candy dispenser or a planter. At these workshops, kids have the opportunity to make wood projects as well as build their skills and confidence.

"This is a way for the kids to develop some very basic skills and they get to make something they can take home," said Jason Davis, a member of the Carpenters Local 361. "It gives them a real sense of accomplishment."

To keep everything safe, each child is accompanied by a parent or guardian and local council staff, such as Davis, were on hand.

"I'm here to make sure everyone's safe, wearing their safety glasses and doing things right," Davis said.

For some children, such as Annabel, 7, and Alexandra, 6, Johnson, the workshop is a way to connect with their carpenter foreman father.

"He's volunteering for this event, so we thought it would be a perfect way for all of us to spend a Saturday morning together," Christine Johnson said. "Plus it's a good opportunity for them to get really hands on."

The project last Saturday was a birdhouse. The Johnson sisters painted their birdhouses mostly pink and purple. For Annabel, the painting was "the best part" because she could paint "whatever I wanted to." Alexandra liked to build the house.

"I liked to use the hammer," she said.

Once their birdhouses are dry, the girls are excited to hang them up. Annabel has an idea about where to put them.

"When it's dry, I really want to put it in the tree next to our treehouse," Annabel said.

The Kids Build workshops are limited to 30 kids each month, so registration is required. Tools are supplied and there are no fees to participate. Children are able to take their projects home to enjoy, along with a certificate of project completion. All workshops are held at the Jerry Alander Training Center, 5238 Miller Trunk Highway in Hermantown. In 2016, events will be held Oct. 15, Nov. 19 and Dec. 17. In 2017, events will be held Jan. 21, Feb. 18, March 18, April 15 and May 20. For more information, go to or