Where I live in Colorado, summer has a blink-and-you-miss-it urgency.  Winter has ended – finally! - but will be back soon. Since wrapping up my DIY Network series Rescue Renovation a few years ago, I have spent summers doing three things near and dear to my heart: speaking to young people about the trades (why skilled labor is important, why it’s a respectable career option and how it’s rewarding and lucrative to boot!), tackling custom woodworking projects and planting a massive vegetable garden in my backyard. Then this summer rolled around, and something felt…different. I’m still working with young people.  I don’t think that will ever change. Next month I embark on a tour of schools in Maryland and Canada with Associated Builders and Contractors and Air Canada.  Then, I am off to Abu Dhabi to cheer on students competing in the WorldSkills Competition – an amazing showcase of the top up-and-coming vocational talent from 76 countries around the globe. But I’m also heeding a different call this summer and it’s one that’s been stirring in me for a while: the call to pursue more educational training. I have been a general PullQuote-Kayleencontractor since 2006, but the more I talk to young people about the importance of specializing, the more I want to practice what I preach.  Maybe I will become an electrician. Maybe I will spend two years in an apprenticeship to become a welder. Maybe I will become an ironworker. To be honest, I’m not entirely sure. So this summer, for the first time in years, I’m putting down the drill and the backhoe, planting three tomato plants instead of 30 and letting myself do some soul-searching. Where do I see myself in ten years?  Which specialties are in demand?  How can I weave my next chapter into my ongoing advocacy for the trades? All of this is a little uncomfortable for me because I have had a full calendar and a clear vision for the past decade. But I’m embracing it for a few reasons. For starters, not knowing what’s next gives me a new appreciation for the uncertainty high schoolers and college students (and career-switching adults) feel as they’re trying to figure out what’s next. Secondly, there’s no need to panic because when you work in the trades, every educational option is a promising one!  As a nation, we are facing a massive labor gap. It’s scary, but for me and for everyone else embarking on vocational futures, it means that whichever path we choose, jobs await, compensation awaits and most likely, satisfaction awaits. Deciding what’s next and trusting it is going to be awesome. That’s how I’m spending my summer.


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  1. Pastor Keith D. Wright PhD. | Jun 11, 2018

    Congratulations to you, as you continue to speak to our youth it is always important to let them know learning is a continuous cycle---now you can show them that you are also continuing to learn even as you teach them what you already know...I went back to school a few years ago and received my PhD at age 63.


  2. Susanne Kahler | Aug 06, 2017

    Hope whatever direction you decide to pursue, you continue your relationship with SkillsUSA!


  3. Catherine Blake | Aug 04, 2017

    I love your sensitivity to the call for some new direction in your life.

    this new adventure, wherever it leads you, will keep your life exciting and your passion alive.

    you are amazing and beautiful. Follow that inner voice!


  4. peter brooks | Aug 04, 2017
    good for you. success is difficult to define. i think it's about being of maximum service to my fellows. you are already on that road, so whatever you do you will be successful.
  5. Craig english | Aug 04, 2017
    Whatever path you choose you will excel.  Your courage and enthusiasm are inspiring to say the least. Hopefully you will keep us up to date on your journey.  God bless!
  6. Al Wahls | Aug 04, 2017


    Whichever direction you go I am sure you will rock it all the way. The passion and drive you have is boundless. The only suggestion I could give is chase after whichever trade makes you happy and that you truly enjoy doing. Welding also gives you the option of being creative and artistic in what you make.

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    NCCER develops standardized construction and maintenance curricula and assessments with portable credentials. These credentials are tracked through NCCER’s National Registry which allows organizations and companies to track the qualifications of their craft professionals and/or check the qualifications of possible new hires. The National Registry also assists craft professionals by maintaining their records in a secure database.