Members of Monument School’s SkillsUSA chapter put their knowledge to the test, completing a sidewalk project at J. Dempsey Boyer Park.

Eleven student and nine adult volunteers filled the city park on May 15, rolling up their sleeves to smooth things out on “pour day.”

The sidewalk, which covers the length of the park, will give easier access to the park and picnic area.

“It will help a lot of elderly and disabled and kids to help them be safer, so they don’t trip over the old overgrown path that used to be here,” said junior Miranda Cook.

Many of the students in the SkillsUSA chapter, led by adviser Michele Engle, were also taking Engle’s agriculture construction class, a career technical education course.

SkillsUSA is a career and technical student organization chapter, similar to FFA.

Spearheading the sidewalk project were senior Kyla Emerson, the chapter president, and juniors Aubrey Bowlus, chapter vice president, and Cook, a chapter member, who came up with the plan and worked behind-the-scenes to see it through to completion.

Cook applied for grants, and Kyla Emerson and Bowlus, with help from Dan Emerson and Michele Engle, did the math for the project and found the products and prices.

The group was awarded a grant of $4,000 from the Glen and Jean McKenzie Fund of the Oregon Community Foundation, and $1,000 from the Shelk Fund of the Oregon Community Foundation.

Monument resident Suzi Mael donated $1,000 to the cause with the funds going toward the picnic table, in memory of her husband, Jim.

Other fundraising efforts, including a ham dinner and a shotgun shoot, raised nearly $2,000.

Bowlus said support from the community was incredible.

“I feel like everyone is pretty excited about it,” she said, pointing to feedback they received from a survey about the sidewalk plans.

“Every single one of them was positive,” she said. “I’m proud of what we’ve accomplished.”

“I’m looking forward to seeing all the new activity at the park with the sidewalk,” Kyla Emerson said.

Dan Emerson Contracting and Engle Contracting LLC, with help from the volunteers, did the prep work, including excavating the sidewalk area and laying forms and gravel.

Chapter members helped haul and spread gravel, among other jobs. Senior Cade Milton also helped run a compactor on the path the following day.

“It’s nice to help the community, help other people and learn new things,” Milton said.

Tel Cox, a junior, agreed that it was good to “give back to the community.”

Dan Emerson was looking over the work May 15, pleased to see the sun out with a breeze drying the cement.

“I think it’s a great deal for the kids,” he said. “I think they learned quite a bit.”

The project cost just under $11,000, with $8,000 from grants and fundraising and the remainder from in-kind work.

Michele Engle said the project couldn’t have happened without the expertise and donated labor from the contractors Dan Emerson and her husband, Chad Engle.

“They’re very good examples to the kids of two extremely successful contractors, yet they’re very civic-minded,” she said. “They took time out of their schedules to come down and not only help, but they were the leaders.”

She added the men also had a good demeanor with the students and were patient and kind.

“They see the value in working with young people, in teaching those kids a strong work ethic and the value of giving back to their community,” she said, adding students need strong role models.

“That’s what you teach them when you get in there and do the work, too — they step up,” she said. “They work hard alongside you.”

She added, “We need each other to shine.”

Heather Bowlus, who is president of the city council and Aubrey Bowlus’ mother, joined in working on troweling the edges of the path.

“The city of Monument would like to thank the SkillsUSA chapter and all the volunteers for their hard work improving our city park,” she said. “As a mom, I’m super proud.”

Kyla Emerson said she’s proud of the project.

“It will be exciting to see it in 30 years, just to see the impact it has on the community,” she said.

Emerson, Bowlus and Cook won gold, presenting their community service project at the SkillsUSA state competition in March. Sophomore Samantha Adams placed fourth for her pin design, and Milton placed fifth in general welding.

Emerson, Bowlus and Cook will present their project at the national leadership and skills conference June 24-28 in Louisville, Kentucky. Joining them on the trip will be Adams and junior Drew Wilburn, along with their chaperones.

Cook received word recently that she was awarded a $1,500 Harbor Freight Tools for Schools National Championship Scholarship, which will cover her costs for travel, hotel, conference fees and meals during the trip to Kentucky.

The students have fundraiser cans at Boyer’s Market and North Fork Café in Monument.

Angel Carpenter is a reporter for the Blue Mountain Eagle. She can be contacted at or 541-575-0710.

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