The success of the Apprenticeship Program of 2015 at the Steger Wilderness Center hinges on the Master Stone Masons, like Ian McKiel, who just finished his 3 week stint and returned home to family and more jobs awaiting him through Sullivan Stone Works, where he has worked as a stone mason for 8 years.

Ian’s task at the Steger Center was no easy one. In addition to making significant progress on three separate projects, he had to train a largely inexperienced crew in the fundamentals and fine points of stone masonry and bring them to a level of proficiency sufficient to the job site. Ian brought his years of experience and work ethic to bear on this task, and a crucial extra element: his natural ability to teach.

Master Mason Ian PortaitThrough the persistent exercise of patience, organization, and clear communication, Ian brought out the best in his novice stoneworkers. Under Ian’s tutelage, they saw in short order what they were capable of – the fruits of their skilled labor – and soon began to work more independently, even as Ian rotated them from one job to another in order to keep broadening those skills. Knowing when to ease up on the reins allowed the apprentices to take ownership of their work, and realize the pride that comes from a job well done that will be admired by visitors to the Steger Center for generations to come.

Because of his talent and discernment, his ability to lead, inspire, and treat his pupils with dignity, the Steger Wilderness Center has been greatly enhanced and would like to express its deep gratitude to Master Stone Mason and Teacher, Ian McKiel.

By Peter Wahlstrom

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