MUSKEGON COUNTY, Mich. — Muskegon County business owner Adam Deuling fears in the very near future very little will carry the "Made in U.S.A." stamp.
It's why one year ago he began speaking to middle school students as an outreach of his metal fabrication business Deuling Design in the Muskegon County community of Holton.
The last event with students was March 4, 2020. "It was one of the coolest days of my life." said Deuling. "In that moment I was like this is what I need to do with my life."
Little did Deuling know COVID-19 was about to wreck his plans by shutting down schools in Muskegon County and around the state. Resulting in the cancelation of the speaking engagements and demonstrations he'd scheduled with several school districts.
"Toilet paper was gone and everything was closed," he said.
After a year of reimagining his dream, Deuling made a Facebook post letting supporters know he's ready to jumpstart the idea, with a new approach.
Deuling is seeking community support and sponsors to build a mobile shop class, one he can take from school to school in an effort to get middle school students interested in skilled trades. The social media post took off.
"90,000 views," he said. "Blown away at the support, people want to help."
Deuling believes if allowed he could work with students to build motivational signs out of metal which could be sold to support the effort.
Deuling says the idea is still being shaped and developed. It grew out of the frustration knowing school districts around the country are cutting shop class.
"Shop class just died one day," he said. "I think you need to walk down the hall of the school and past that room and there are sparks and there's wood cutting and welding."
Similar efforts to encourage the return of the traditional shop class are happening around the country. On social media those efforts are often labeled #bringshopclassback.
Deuling recognizes many communities have high quality career/vocational technology centers for students in high school. He believes by then many students have already eliminated skilled trades as a career option. With a mobile trailer he wants to give middle school students a look at skilled trades a few years before high school.
And if the dream catches fire Deuling believes the next phase of his plan would be to open a community shop class where students and adults can learn how to build things from furniture to specialty parts for four-wheel drive trucks.
"You need to know how to build things, you need to know how to fix your car, you need to know how to fix your house, and you need to know how to use a drill," he said.
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