Questar III BOCES celebrates Career and Technical Education Month®, an opportunity to showcase our students, while also recognizing the importance of our programs to the region and economy.

New York State is experiencing a skills gap. While 49% of New York jobs require skilled training – more education than high school, but less than a 4-year degree – only 37% of New Yorkers are trained at this level. Students enrolled in our CTE programs are learning the skills they need to help bridge this gap, while setting themselves up for successful careers in high-demand fields.

Be sure to follow us Facebook, Instagram, X, YouTube, and LinkedIn to hear more about our programs and stories like Joshua’s below.

Questar III BOCES student Joshua Banyard is a Heavy Equipment junior at Marilyn A. Noonan School at Durham from Taconic Hills Central School District. Like many of our students, Joshua found inspiration in the industry through family, his father has been a heavy equipment mechanic for over 30 years. It’s no coincidence that the maintenance portion of the program is one of Joshua’s favorites.

The program, formally known as Heavy Equipment Repair and Operations, prepares students to operate and maintain large construction-related equipment. To round out the program, students also learn how to diagnose and repair common issues with diesel engines and heavy equipment.

“This program is nice because it allows me to do something besides sit in a classroom and stare at the board,” said Joshua. “I’m more of a hands-on learner.”

Heavy Equipment students start their junior year and have hands-on experience with real pieces of machinery. From excavators to skid steers, dump trucks, and more – it’s all available in the yard, an extension of their classroom. But they have plenty of tools inside their classroom too, like a pair of heavy equipment simulators.

“The simulators allow us to run a machine without actually going outside or putting ourselves in potential danger,” said Joshua. “It’s just more practice for us, which is always great.”

CTE teachers have first-hand experience in the program they teach, which is a great asset to students. Joshua shared that the stories and advice teachers share help bring more credibility to the classroom. He also shared that the certifications they earn are another benefit to the program.

“We’re working on our flagger certification right now,” shared Joshua. “It’s great because it allows us different opportunities within the field and gives us a jump start over people who haven’t gotten them. Plus, it’s free here, otherwise you’d have to pay for it yourself.”

Between guest visits and field trips, students are exposed to many businesses and schools related to the industry. This type of exposure gives students insights into the type of continuing ed and career opportunities available within the area. One that was influential to Josh was a trip to SUNY Cobleskill to learn about their Agricultural Equipment Technology program.

While Joshua is still a junior with plenty of time to decide, he is leaning towards attending SUNY Cobleskill after high school graduation. While he’s interested in machine maintenance and repair, he’s still not certain what his dream job will be but expressed that he thinks this program will help him decide.

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