Building to sell: CVTC students build outdoor garden items to raffle at home and garden show | Local News

It’s typical for school clubs to have fundraisers. It’s not so common for them to build from scratch wooden planters, a raised garden bed, an Adirondack bench and a beautiful garden arbor to raise the money.

Amanda Poirier, 33, a student in Chippewa Valley Technical College’s Residential Construction program and the program’s club president, said building items to raffle at Chippewa Valley Homebuilders Home and Garden show has become a rite of passage for the students.

It’s also an opportunity to put their skills to the test. Brian Barth, CVTC instructor for the program, does not allow the students to build the items from plans. They must look at a photo of what is needed and learn to create it from scratch.

“Over Christmas break, we reverse-engineered the photos to create scaled plans, made a material list and got everything ready,” said Poirier, of Chippewa Falls. “Then last week, as a class, we worked in our groups and got them done.”

For 18 years, CVTC Residential Construction students have been building raffle items for the Home and Garden show in Eau Claire. CVTC students in the Landscape, Plant and Turf Management program are also involved by helping to choose items the construction students will build. In addition, construction students help ready the show’s space, and horticulture students bring plant material for the garden portion of the show.

Barth said he hopes to raise $5,000, which will be split between the two programs and go toward scholarships for the students, field trips, safety apparel and other necessities.

Building items to raffle is an excellent way for students to put their knowledge to use.

Ethan Miller, 20, a student in Residential Construction who helped build items for the show, wasn’t sure the program was the right step for him after his first day of class in fall 2021.

“It sounded like a good program. I like to work with my hands, and on a whim, I decided to sign up for the class,” Miller said. “But the first day, I looked around and I didn’t know if I was going to fit in. But I gave it a couple of weeks, and everyone is so great.

“If someone knows something and you don’t, they teach you. We’re students, but we’re also teachers. And it’s about life.”

Miller worked for three years with his uncle, who owns properties in Minnesota. The second-semester student did small jobs for his uncle and gleaned knowledge about the business. Miller’s uncle told him to go to school for construction first, then inquire about selling real estate after a few years.

That’s when Miller looked into CVTC in his hometown of Eau Claire.

Miller, who now lives in Altoona, said now, after a semester in the one-year program, he’s the happiest he’s ever been.

“I know I’m probably being too enthusiastic,” he said with a huge smile on his face, “but ever since I got into this class, my whole life changed. I’m just so glad this program is here. It has helped every aspect of my life – how I treat people, how I talk to people, how I sell myself. It gave me confidence.”