Electrical Trades Students Gain Real-World Experience at Local Non-Profit
Students install the tubing that will carry wiring to new outlets in the corals at Mandy’s Farm.

Electrical Trades Students Gain Real-World Experience at Local Non-Profit

Carlos Nevarez and his class showed up to help Mandy’s Farm solve a nagging problem
December 02, 2019

The Saturday before Thanksgiving, while most people were still asleep, CNM professor Carlos Nevarez and the students in his first-term Electrical Trades class were already at work down at Mandy’s Farm in the South Valley.

They were at the farm—which provides a variety of services for people with disabilities—because the fire marshal had flagged a problem. The farm was running extension cords to heaters that kept the horses’ water from freezing over. But the horses were nibbling on those cords and the cords were not up to code. If the farm didn’t use the cords, the water would freeze and need to be dumped, creating giant puddles and lots of mud.

A fix would have been expensive if the farm paid for the work, but Carlos and his class happily stepped in. For the students, the job meant important hands-on experience and the chance to help. They spent nearly 10 hours running wires to and installing eight new outlets that power the heating elements in each trough. The farm is now set.

“My students are all non-traditional, meaning they work and have families, so it’s hard to show up on a Saturday, but they were all excited to do the job,” Carlos says. “And on Monday I asked them how they felt and each one told me that it felt great to know that they’d made a difference. And that’s important. In this class it’s not all about the grade or putting it on the resume. It’s about self-fulfillment and being able to give back.”

A horse drinks out of one of the troughs at Mandy’s Farm

Chase Person, 20, was one of the students who helped. He’s done lots of non-profit work and always enjoys when he can make a difference. Personally, he says the experience was invaluable because he learns best with his hands.

“So much of my schooling has been sitting in a chair and listening to someone talk, and that’s not what I need,” he says. “I like hands-on work in the real-world.”

Before the students even started the wiring, Carlos had them come down to the farm and scout the project so they could come up with a bid for materials. They then called around and priced bids at different stores, eventually landing the lowest price. Once everything was purchased, the class actually came in under budget by $20.

“That’s a big deal for them to absolutely nail it,” Carlos says. 

Student Scott Allen said he didn’t know what to expect walking into the job but knew he wanted to help. Once the work started he was excited to see how the studying he’d done in the classroom translated.

“It was more valuable than I could have imagined,” he says. “The whole experience really built my confidence.”

Students in Carlos Nevarez’s class sort wiring.