Opinion Column

Careers and College: Algonquin College students rebuild Pembroke’s waterfront boardwalk

Jamie Bramburger

By Jamie Bramburger, Special to The Daily Observer

STEPHEN UHLER / DAILY OBSERVER
Algonquin College student Jessica LeBlanc rakes the gravel base of the new waterfront boardwalk, being constructed at the Pembroke Marina. She is one of a crew of 20 who are hard at work to complete the work by the end of the week.

STEPHEN UHLER / DAILY OBSERVER Algonquin College student Jessica LeBlanc rakes the gravel base of the new waterfront boardwalk, being constructed at the Pembroke Marina. She is one of a crew of 20 who are hard at work to complete the work by the end of the week.

The City of Pembroke will soon be celebrating the rebuilding of its waterfront boardwalk, a project that has had many contributions from volunteers, businesses and Algonquin College students who have provided the labour to get the job done.

For most of July, students in the Pre-Apprenticeship Construction Trades program have been showing up early and working late to complete the project in time for a civic celebration on the long weekend in August. As part of their program curriculum, the students require hundreds of hours of practical learning experiences and the need to replace the aging boardwalk provided a wonderful opportunity for the students to contribute to a meaningful community project.

There are approximately 20 trades students involved. They have had to disassemble the old boardwalk, prepare the undercarriage for the new structure, measure and cut the boards, assemble them and remove the waste material, much of which will be recycled through a partnership with the Ottawa Valley Waste Recovery Centre.

While not being paid for their work, the students are gaining some wonderful experiences that will make them better employees, and are also making some important connections. With hundreds of people visiting the waterfront on a daily basis, the workmanship being demonstrated by the students is a great opportunity to showcase their talent.

Taking an active role in volunteerism is also good citizenship and can be as valuable as the work related learning that is taking place. It’s a critical component of what colleges do through co-curricular activities that reward students for going beyond what is expected of them in their program of study. Students can earn additional certifications or references through volunteerism, key assets when they graduate and start looking for employment.

The trades students are not the only Algonquin College students that have a role to play in the helping keep Pembroke’s waterfront beautiful. About 30 students in the Forestry Technician program spent a day last week cleaning up the shoreline by removing some trees and brush. Their work has opened up some beautiful vistas and made the area more accessible.

Students in the Office Administration-Executive program have been given the task of organizing the celebration of the boardwalk completion. They have been monitoring the daily progress of the project and posting pictures and video on social media sites. They have also been busy securing entertainment for the touchdown celebration, preparing and sending out invitations to local dignitaries and developing promotional campaigns.

The boardwalk will soon be finished and Pembroke will have an opportunity to thank everyone who was involved in seeing the project through to fruition, including Algonquin’s students. The college is proud of their efforts and looks forward to celebrating a job well done on the Civic Holiday Monday.

(Jamie Bramburger is the Manager of Community and Student Affairs at Algonquin College’s Waterfront Campus. An Information Session is scheduled for Thursday, Aug. 6 at 7 p.m. for anyone still interested in attending college in September)