KEITH WHITCOMB JR.
BENNINGTON -- While they may learn how to build duck houses and fix cars over the next few weeks, the true lesson those in the local Rosie's Girls program are taking away is one of self-confidence and empowerment.
Leah MacDonald, an alternative program teacher at Mount Anthony Union High School, said this is the second week of the three-week summer program where 16 middle school-age girls are learning building trades by creating things like lamps, benches and houses for dogs and ducks.
Madison Metcalf, 11, of Pownal, said she has learned to build and repair things as well as "not to put yourself down when you really need to keep going."
She spent part of Thursday at the Mount Anthony Union Middle School putting the finishing touches on a house designed for a wood duck. She said she has enjoyed learning to build and fix things and plans to use those skills later in life when she needs them. "I'll be able to build a bench, or anything to help birds in their natural environment," she said. "I've liked it very much. I want to do this again next year."
Wood for the duck houses was donated by Reggie Tschorn, of Arlington, who is a member of Ducks Unlimited and has been getting together with groups of young people over the past few years to use the building of duck houses as a multi-layered learning opportunity.
Tschorn said he gave a presentation on the importance of conserving wetlands to the Rosie's Girls earlier in the day, saying they were just as engaged and curious about ducks and nature as they have been with learning to use tools. For this project, the students built three houses, but Tschorn said he has dozens stored in his home and puts them up for people who wish to have them on their property. He can be contacted at 802-375-2972.
MacDonald said the program has been running locally for the past four years, and while it may be too early to tell, it seems that the females involved are exploring more vocational education later on. She said some students interviewing at the Southwest Vermont Career Development Center have cited their experience with Rosie's Girls as reasons for wanting to go into the building trades.
She said she is certain that the program's true goal is being met, as the girls are showing more confidence in themselves as they produce things. In addition to the duck houses, they are also making and wiring lamps for themselves, as well as building tool boxes which they can also keep.
"They really like doing things for other people," she said. "This duck project was great." She added that they have also built dog houses for the Second Chance Animal Shelter in Shaftsbury.
She said the program is growing, with 10 new girls involved this year. She said they meet for smaller projects in the winter.
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