Scotia

Area high schoolers compete in annual SkillsUSA Regional

Mohonasen senior Ryan Hobart checks his welding work during the SkillsUSA Regional competition hosted at the Stratton Air National Guard Base in Scotia Wednesday. The regional took place at the base and at SUNY Schenectady.
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Mohonasen senior Ryan Hobart checks his welding work during the SkillsUSA Regional competition hosted at the Stratton Air National Guard Base in Scotia Wednesday. The regional took place at the base and at SUNY Schenectady.

SCOTIA — Mohonasen High School senior Ryan Hobart has been learning how to weld at Capital Region BOCES for a year and a half.

On Wednesday, his skills were put to the test inside a building on the Stratton Air National Guard Base as he competed in the SkillsUSA Regional contest. His task: to fuse two pieces of metal together. He chose to create a weldment using a cylindrical piece placed vertically on a square piece.

Every so often, the 17-year-old would briefly pause, check his work, and use his brush to remove excess melted metal left behind during the fusion process. He was on a stage and wanted to do well.

Hobart was one of 290 students from the Capital Region, North Country and Hudson Valley competing in the annual event held at both Stratton and SUNY Schenectady. During the event, students showcased their abilities in areas including welding, culinary arts, and CPR and first aid. 

“They’re considered the top in their programs,” said Mike McCagg, a Capital Region BOCES spokesperson. 

Hobart said the knowledge base and determination of welders inspired him to learn the technique. 

“I wanted to emulate that,” he said. 

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Now, he likes it so much that he helps teach juniors — and believes everyone should learn how to weld. His knowledge of the process even allowed him to help repair the exhaust system on his friend’s Jeep.

“Anything you learn here can be used daily,” he said, noting it’s also taught him leadership and teamwork skills. 

While Hobart loves to weld, he doesn’t plan to pursue it as a career. Rather, he plans to enlist in the Navy with the goal of becoming a Navy SEAL. 

Opposite Hobart, Cobleskill-Richmondville High School senior Zach Yorke, also 17, intends to continue in the trade. He plans to attend Alfred State College for welding and metal fabrication.

He said he got started around three years ago after his technology teacher Nicholas Carson suggested he try welding out. 

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“I kind of always knew I wanted to go into a trade,” Yorke said. “It’s a skill not many people have and is in high demand.”

McCagg said BOCES fields numerous calls a day from companies looking for trade workers. 

He also said — in the welding competition — Yorke took first, while Hobart finished third. Yorke will now compete in the state competition in Syracuse. 

In an adjacent building, Cohoes High School junior Adrianna Galasso was performing CPR on a first-aid dummy. 

The 16-year-old plans to be the first in her family to become a registered nurse. 

“I always wanted to be a nurse because I wanted to help people,” she said. 

She said seeing COVID’s impact on the healthcare system only pushed her further to pursue nursing as a career. 

“They need a lot of help,” she said. 

Overseeing part of the CPR and first-aid competition were two past participants, Aiden Enders of Duanesburg, SkillsUSA state president two years ago, and Matt Furlong of Schoharie, a 2019 competitor.

“It’s awesome to come back,” Enders said. “The organization gave me a lot growing up.” 

He said watching the competition from a different perspective was interesting and he’ll definitely come back to help again. 

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Enders, who was originally studying diesel mechanics, changed programs after volunteering for the Delanson Volunteer Fire Department. He is currently studying to become a paramedic at SUNY Cobleskill. 

Furlong, also studying to become a paramedic at Cobleskill, competed in the heavy equipment and construction competition in 2019 — because his high school did not offer the CPR and first-aid course. 

He was also happy to be back assisting at the event. 

“I thought it was a really cool experience to come back and see the kids work,” he said. 

Event coordinator Chris Shader said the competition wouldn’t be possible without the help of the Air National Guard. And, he said, having the competition gives students the opportunity to grow their confidence for the future.

Reporter Shenandoah Briere can be reached at [email protected]. Follow her on twitter @SB_DailyGazette. 

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