We've launched the first ever Apprenticeship Program at the shop!
Meet our new apprentices! Matt, Derek, and Dylan are training and learning at Bike Recycle Vermont for the next six months (and that's their instructor, Dan, in the bottom right, of course).
You might be wondering: why an apprenticeship program? And why now?
For as long as Bike Recycle Vermont has provided affordable transportation to low-income Vermonters, the shop has doubled as a non-traditional classroom. Since we opened in 2005, thousands of people have volunteered in the shop and learned a thing or two about bicycle mechanics.
We've witnessed incredible transformations happen as people spend more and more time at Bike Recycle Vermont, and many of the greatest transformations have been in high school students.
Many high school students initially come to Bike Recycle Vermont through alternative high school programs that provide active, engaging, work-based, "real life" educational opportunities for students who might struggle in traditional learning environments.
These students are eager to work on bicycles -- so eager that they often don't realize that they're involved in a very academic learning experience! Bicycle mechanics present mathematical and physical science concepts in a tanglible way. Bicycles have an icredible history as part of social movements, American history, and technological advancements. Bicycles provide a lense through which we can explore urban planning and design. Bike repair helps develop problem solving skills and good work behaviors. We could go on and on...
Many students start out quiet and reserved, but after spending some time in the shop, building confidence, and getting familiar with the space and the people, high school students often become leaders in the shop. We've witnessed many kids with low self-esteem transform into confident mechanics who start helping other volunteers, working with customers, and offering their opinion on how to make the shop run smoother.
We love watching this kind of transformation, and we've wanted to help facilitate more of these experiences for student in alterative high school programs.
So we reached out to ReSOURCE's YouthBuild program and Vermont Adult Learning to see if they could help.
Which brings us to now: The Apprenticeship Program is in full swing. Derek, Matt, and Dylan will be with us through March, and by the end of their program they will have earned credits towards their diplomas, be trained mechanics, and have gained a lot of job skills to aid them in their future.
And it works well for the shop, too; while the Apprentices are gaining invaluable mechanical and vocational skills, and Bike Recycle Vermont benefits by having three trained mechanics in the shop three days a week to help manage the shop and refurbish bikes for our programs.
We've covered a lot in the first month. For example, the apprentices started out by revamping the tool boards and shop layout. They learned basic principles of workspace organization, efficiency, and safety that they'll be able to apply throughout the program and beyond.
The apprentices visited the University of Vermont Library to see an exhibit called "Cycling Through the News" curated by the Vermont Digital Newspaper Project with support from our very own Glenn Eames and long-time supporter/volunteer, Luis Vivanco. The exhibit features local newspaper articles from the past 100+ years that cover cycling in Vermont and Burlington that reveal a lot about the bicycle's impact on society at large, as well as the impact on our own little city and state. The apprentices discussed these points and gained a new appreciation for bicycles and how they've changed our lives and history as we know it.
For the apprentice's health credits, Dan is taking the crew out on some really leafy trails in and around Burlington and the apprentices are tracking their distance, heart rate, calories burned, and more (photos above). Riding has been an integral part to keeping the apprentices energized and engaged in this alternative learning program.
Stay tuned for future developments! And if you come by the shop, please introduce yourselves to the new guys!
HUGE thanks to the staff at both Vermont Adult Learning and ReSOURCE's YouthBuild program for their help in designing and launching this program!
By Christine Hill, Outreach Director & Dan Hock, Bike Recycle Vermont Manager