In summers past, the Master Stone Mason Apprentice Program has been an integral part of the community life and hands-on education at the Steger Center. Master Masons dedicate four weeks out of their summer to teaching their trade to the a small group of qualified Apprentices. By the end of the program the Apprentices develop the skills and confidence necessary to be proficient in the fundamentals of stone work, technique, and construction. Working along side of the Apprentices are the summer Interns. Working, eating and camping together every day ensures a tight-knit community of Apprentices and Interns who motivate, learn from and teach one another.
The Apprentice program has evolved over the last several years. This summer the Steger Wilderness Center has made a new partnership with Central Minnesota Jobs and Training Services (CMJTS) to advance the Apprentice program. CMJTS is a nonprofit aiming to “match job seekers, youth, businesses, and those seeking training with resources available to them.” New partnerships such as this allow the program to develop greater opportunities and resources for a more diverse range of individuals.
Ryan Redfield, a Youth Employment Specialistfor CMJTS, recruited four young adults to come to the Steger Center for the month go June and join the Apprentice Program. These four participants will be completing a 160 hour paid internship, for which they earn a college credit through Anoka-Ramsey Community College. Prior to arriving at the Steger Wilderness Center they earned a forklift certification from Anoka Technical College. The Apprentices are paid for their labor and provided with a food stipend for the month. By partnering with CMJTS, the Steger Wilderness Center is able to provide beneficial opportunities to four Apprentices who each day are becoming more competent in the trade of stone masonry. When the Apprentices leave at the end of June, they will be job ready, taking their first steps on a new career path in a skill that has been passed down to them from former generations.