Hendersonville Standard

Dozer Day – a peek at future career options

   Children and their parents took advantage of some of the stationary pieces of heavy equipment for photo opportunities during Dozer Day at the Comer Barn on Sept. 16. RICK MURRAY
    Young Grayson Satterfield plays “King of the Hill” on top of construction tires during Dozer Day at the Comer Barn on Sept. 16. RICK MURRAY
   Children had a great time playing in the sand and dirt piles available during Dozer Day at the Comer Barn on Sept. 16. RICK MURRAY
    A young man learns about operating a backhoe under the skilled auspices of a trained operator during Dozer Day at the Comer Barn on Sept. 16. RICK MURRAY

On Saturday afternoon, Sept. 16, the front acreage of the Comer Farm was transformed into magical hybrid of construction site and amusement park to the delight of young visitors and their parents.

Filled with the sights and sounds of heavy equipment in action, the location served as the home of the inaugural Dozer Day, where children were able to experience first-hand the thrill of operating real building machinery.

While the event provided lots of fun for the junior operators, Dozer Day also served as an early introduction to future career options which are in high demand by area employers.

“There is a real shortage of highly skilled heavy equipment operators across our entire area, and we are always looking for ways to recruit and develop our future workforce,” says Natalie Hansen, executive director of the National Utility Contractors Association (NUCA). “As a result, we created Dozer Day to serve as a fun-filled way to teach grade school children about the exciting jobs available in the construction industry. We want them to consider a career path with us once they graduate from high school.”

Despite heavy clouds and intermittent rain throughout the day, the event attracted over 1,000 children who were eager to try their hands at operating more than 20 pieces of heavy construction equipment, including backhoes, loaders and dozers. Access to the equipment was carefully controlled by skilled professional operators who guided the children through a variety of digging and loading activities.

During the week leading up to Dozer Day, NUCA member company volunteers strategically stationed the different pieces of heavy equipment across the farm grounds, prompting concerns by passing drivers that the beloved Comer Barn was going to be razed. However, Hansen and her team were quick to dispel that rumor.

“Last year, we started the Middle Tennessee Workforce Academy to help train current and future heavy equipment operators, and we hope to someday make the Comer Barn the home for the school” says Hansen. “We are partnering with Deanne Dewitt and her team at the Preservation Foundation of Sumner County to help save the barn for future generations.”

At the end of the day, Hansen and her NUCA team were very pleased with the public’s support of the first-year event, and they are already planning on making it an annual fall event.

“We sold over 1,200 presale tickets, and we also had a lot of walk-in traffic,” says Hansen. “Based upon the turnout and the smiling happy faces of the participants, our inaugural event was highly successful.”