Jamestown Sun: NDSCS project benefits Service Dogs for America

By Tom LaVenture

A nonprofit service dog facility has four new doghouses that were built by high school and college students.

Eight students in the Building Construction Technology Program of North Dakota State College of Science in Wahpeton, N.D., were in Jud to present the doghouses that high school students helped build in November. The gift went to Service Dogs for America, a nonprofit organization that trains assistance dogs to help individuals mitigate any limitations from physical and mental disabilities including seizure response, diabetes alert and post-traumatic stress.

“Everything here at our organization is based on donation,” said Jen Brodkorb, executive director of Service Dogs for America. “It’s lovely and we are just really pleased to be part of that gift from them.”

The remote Jud location is a perfect environment to build bonds between dogs and humans, he said. The dogs train constantly and get few precious hours to just be dogs in the outdoor playpens, and without the doghouses there wouldn’t be any protection from the elements, she said.

“We are very grateful and the dogs are very grateful,” Brodkorb said.

Some people say that doghouses are not exactly college level design and build projects, said Michael Douglas, coordinator of the NDSCS Building Construction Technology Program. He said he tells them it is much more than that.

A few hundred high school students were bused in from around the state for Imagine It, Design It, Build It Day on Nov. 23, he said. The students were introduced to programs in architectural drafting, estimating, land surveying, civil engineering, construction management and technology.

Some of those high school students stopped to work on the doghouses under the supervision of the college students using NDSCS building materials, he said. They learned to use tools, do measurements and other trade skills.

“Our students assisted the high school students in building the doghouses,” Douglas said. “A lot of these students had never even picked up any tools or worked with any types of project like this.”

The project helps high school students go from just observing to an activity that gets them to open up and communicate with the college students, he said. The interaction better exposes the students to career choices or vocations they didn’t think about or know existed.

In turn, he said the college students develop valuable leadership and communications skills. Developing effective interpersonal skills are important to be successful at work and in life, he said.

“The doghouses exemplify the heart of the program,” Douglas said. “It is not just about teaching skills but about teaching how to be leaders, managers and good communicators — and then using the skills that you have to give back to the community.”

Braeden Mathern, a second-year student in the Building Construction Technology Program, grew up near Jud in Edgeley, and said he remembers visiting Service Dogs for America as a child. He said the doghouse idea just clicked as a great opportunity to give back.

See the full article online at jamestownsun.com.

Department: Building Construction Technology

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