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Girls Build!

More power. More skills. More confidence

Katie Hughes of Portland-based Girls Build helps a participant build a stool using power tools. (Cindy Yingst)
By Cindy Yingst, Friday, August 31, 2018

Brooke Holmes of Ilwaco is only 8, but she’s thinking of becoming an engineer.

Carolina Añeses, 10, of Las Cruces, N.M., wants to be an aerospace engineer.

Reese Long, 11, of Chinook isn’t sure, but she wants to do something with her hands.

Thanks to Girls Build, their future job opportunities are wide open.

“We want girls to simply gain more curiosity and confidence in themselves. By building, they can do that,” said Katie Hughes, who is leading a Girls Build camp at Warrenton Grade School this week.

“We want to make sure kids know that a really great option for them is to go into the construction trades,” Hughes said. “But they have to start young for them to consider it.”

The weeklong camp for girls ages 8 to 14 is sponsored by Hampton Lumber.

On Wednesday, the 41 girls in the program were going through work stations to get experience in a variety of fields. All 16 staff members and volunteers are women working in the construction trades.

Olivia Merila, 10, of Warrenton got to lay the foundation for a playhouse the group will donate to Head Start Preschool. Others built the walls, installed windows and put on a roof.

“It was really fun to learn how to work the big machinery,” Olivia said.

Other stations covered woodworking, solar-panel installation, copper soldering, plumbing, firefighting and making sheet-metal lamps.

Everyone got a chance to put on volunteer firefighter Billie O’Bryant’s yellow jacket and hat and operate a fire hose.

“I just love doing this kind of stuff,” O’Bryant said. “Girls can do anything they put their minds to.” She is one of two women with the Warrenton Fire Department and she hopes some of the camp’s participants will be persuaded to consider her field. Warrenton needs more volunteers.

“It’s great to see the girls get familiar not only with tools, but the whole experience,” said Hallie Sweet, a Warrenton Public Works office assistant.

Sweet and analyst Trisha Hayrynen were showing the girls how Public Works employees repair leaks in city water pipes.

“My daughter is here participating,” Hayrynen said. “Yesterday they got to operate an excavator and other heavy equipment. That was her favorite part. Once they got in the seat and realized the power they had, they were empowered by it.”

Kamryn Wade, 10, of Astoria liked learning how to solve problems.

“I thought it was real cool how you could fix the water leak by putting clamps on it,” Kamryn said. “I like building things.”

Sahalie Heavenrich, 9, of Astoria is glad her mom pushed her to come to camp.

“She knows it’s hard for me to do things with other people. I like to do things by myself,” Sahalie said. Operating an excavator was awesome and twisting bolts on the water leak simulator is a good skill to have, she added.

This summer, Girls Build will have other camps in Portland, Josephine County and Seattle. Warrenton “has been lovely to say the least,” Hughes said. “They were excited to have us and ready for us. Hampton made it very easy for us.”

Other local camp sponsors are Warrenton Fultano’s, Warrenton Mini Mart, Warrenton Subway and Action Sign Works.

Warrenton Public Works employees Halle Sweet and Trisha Hayrynen show two girls how to close off a leaky pipe while volunteer firefighter Billie O'Bryant looks on. (Cindy Yingst)

Trisha Hayrynen of Warrenton's Public Works Department shows a young girl how to adjust bolts on the water pipe. (Cindy Yingst)

Lizzy Trickey of Portland helps Lilyann Duncan, 11, of Astoria use a circular saw. (Cindy Yingst)

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