By SHERI GASSAWAY
Affton, MO – With the sounds of hammers hitting nails and saws and drills abuzz, excitement was in the air for 35 girls who took part in the April 21 woodworking workshop at Nelson-Mulligan Carpenters Training Center.
The free half-day event, sponsored by Missouri Women in Trades, the St. Louis-Kansas City Carpenters Regional Council’s Joint Apprenticeship Program, Sisters in the Brotherhood and the St. Louis Chapter of the National Association of Women in Construction, was the most well attended in its history.
“It’s the biggest girls’ workshop we’ve ever had, and we have just as many tradeswomen helping this year as we have participants,” said Lynda Mueller-Drendel, an instructor at the training center and workshop organizer.
In the past, the workshops were held to help girls in the Girl Scouts of Eastern Missouri earn their Woodworking Badges. This year, organizers decided to open the workshop to all girls since not every girl has the opportunity to be in the Girl Scouts.
The event gave girls the opportunity to learn skills and introduce them to a trade they otherwise might not have considered. Union craftswomen taught the girls how to use a hammer, drill, jigsaw and other tools, and they each built a wooden step stool.
Jayda Hancock, a third grader, said out of all the tools she learned how to use, her favorite was the hammer. She said she had fun at the event and enjoyed building the stool.
“I’m going to use the step stool in the living room to hold my snacks,” she said.
Sisters Talia Bailey, 7, and Tarra Paynes, 9, also said their favorite tool was the hammer. Paynes said she also liked using the drill and learning how to build.
While Paynes wasn’t sure if a construction career would be in her future, she offered this advice to other girls: “If you want to do this, you should follow your dreams.”