Connect 4 Connections: Seniors graduate into industry jobs

Friday, May 17, 2019
Berryville senior Rusty Colbert mounts a start/stop switch on a three-phase motor in the Connect 4 program.
Submitted photo

By Kelby Newcomb

The first class of seniors is graduating from the new Connect 4 program, and several will soon be entering industry jobs.

The Connect 4 program offers junior and senior students from the Berryville, Eureka Springs and Green Forest school districts the opportunity to pursue a technical education during the school day. The program is housed in the Carroll County Career Center and focuses on industrial maintenance, providing students with a cross-curricular background in different trades.

Berryville senior Keaton Scitern and Eureka Springs senior Patrick Pile-Seymour have both received ammonia refrigeration and maintenance internships with Tyson Foods in Green Forest.

“We’re the first to come out of this program and go into Tyson,” Scitern said. “I’ve worked on some ammonia pumps and stuff here before I even knew what they were. I really enjoyed that, and I think this will be a good fit for me.”

Pile-Seymour and Scitern said they both plans to enter careers with Tyson once the internships conclude.

Berryville senior Rusty Colbert has started a job with the Harrison Fire Department.

“I started the 13th right after graduation,” he said. “[C4] has helped out. Like when we went on one of the industry tours to get our certification for driving forklifts and all that, it kind of helped because it gave the fire department a little bit of a gist that I’m able to drive that kind of machine.”

Colbert said his experience serving with the Alpena Volunteer Fire Department for the past three years also helped him get the job.

“The skills that I’ve learned here I’ll be able to use on the farm, too,” he said, “and that will help out a lot.”

Scitern said the program was a great opportunity for him.

“It’s fit me very well,” he said. “Sitting in the classroom hasn’t always worked very well for me, so this hands-on training has really helped me. I’ve learned a lot about welding, running machines, electrical, working on pumps and motors … all kinds of stuff like that.”

He said he had been attending North Arkansas College in Harrison before enrolling in Connect 4.

“I left at semester because I felt like there would be some better job opportunities here,” Scitern said, “and so I’ve just been here a semester. I really wish I could have attended the full two years.”

Colbert said he was in the program for the full school year. He said he enjoyed learning more about tungsten inert gas (TIG) welding.

“That was fun because I already knew how to do all the other types of welding,” he said. “That helped me out, and I enjoyed it. I also liked all the trips we had touring local industries. It was cool to see all that, like Wilson Combat and Nighthawk.”

Pile-Seymour said he didn’t know anything about welding when he first started the program.

“Now I’ve got a good grasp on most of the processes,” he said. “I didn’t know very much about any of this when I came in, and now I know a lot more. We learned how to wire light switches and electrical outlets and learned about electrical motors and gearboxes. We also got certified to drive forklifts in classes three, four and five.”

Colbert said he decided to enroll in Connect 4 because he loves hands-on learning.

“I can’t stand sitting inside and doing nothing,” he said. “I love doing stuff with my hands, so I was like ‘That sounds like something right in my zone.’ I decided to give it a try. It was fun.”

Scitern said he really enjoyed coming to the Connect 4 program each day.

“I think it’s a great program,” he said, “and it’s a great opportunity for kids like me.”

Pile-Seymour said he would recommend the program to other Eureka Springs students.

“It’s basically a good way to learn a trade,” he said, “and not get stuck in the trap of college where you have to spend four years of your life and get in copious amounts of debt.”

Colbert said Connect 4 is the perfect program for students who like working with their hands and want to learn trade skills.

“If you don’t like getting dirty and getting a little bit of grease on your hands, I wouldn’t do it,” he said. “Learning everything here has helped me tremendously. It will help me more with other jobs later on in my career.”

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