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VWW Graduates First Trailblazers in Newport

by Jillian Scannell

Two Newport Trailblazers participants work together to build a deck

In early July, Vermont Works for Women (VWW) graduated our 16th Trailblazers cohort and the first ever in Newport, Vermont. Trailblazers is our free, seven-week trades training program for women and gender-expansive individuals ages 18+.  

Getting Comfortable with Tools 

For the first two weeks of class, participants spent time in North Country Career Center’s workshop familiarizing themselves with various tools through hands-on learning. From table saws to planers and sanders, participants used nearly every tool in the shop to build their own Adirondack chairs. It was great to see people’s confidence grow throughout the class as they continued to try new things and step outside their comfort zones.  

A Trailblazer uses a sander to smooth a board.     A trailblazer refers to instructions while building an Adirondack chair.




Heavy Equipment Operation  

With each Trailblazers class, we leverage the skills of our hosts and partners to offer trades training experiences that are unique to that area. Thanks to our partnership with the North Country Career Center, our Newport Trailblazers were able to spend a whole Saturday learning how to operate heavy machinery.  

One participant shared, “Heavy equipment day yesterday was awesome! I never would have imagined that I could/would drive anything like those machines, and it was really amazing to do it.” 

A Trailblazer operates a bulldozer A Trailblazer operates an excavator as an instructor points on.





Intro to Electrical with AMP Electric  

We were grateful to have Alli and Mike Pappalardo of Amp Electric come to class to teach an introduction to the electrical trades. AMP Electric is a woman-owned electrical contractor that offers residential and commercial services in Northern Vermont.  

Alli led participants through hands-on activities like wiring an electrical panel and replacing an outlet. We often find that Trailblazers are interested in learning more about becoming an electrician, so it was great to have Alli and Mike share their experiences and expertise. 

Trailblazers pose with Alli from AMP Electric.Alli at AMP Electric shows a Trailblazer how to wire an electrical panel.





Hands-on practice at E. Main Street Project 

The hands-on learning wasn’t confined to the workshop. Participants had the chance to work on NCCC’s Building Trades project of rehabilitating a farmhouse at the lower end of East Main Street in Newport City. The project allows NCCC’s students – and our Trailblazers – a chance to work on a construction project while supporting the expansion of Vermont’s limited housing stock. 

While there, the Trailblazers worked together and put their carpentry skills to use building a deck that, once finished, will be moved and added to the main house. Trying their hand at each step in the process, the participants set up the initial frame through carefully measuring and planning, learning how to use a circular saw, and fitting each cut piece into place.  

Trailblazers build a deck during Newport Trailblazers. Trailblazers use a circular saw to cut lumber while building a deck.





Trailblazers is headed South!  

Our next Trailblazers class starts July 29th in Brattleboro. We are excited to be bringing our trades training to a new area and we are grateful to our friends at HatchSpace who will be hosting us. The Brattleboro class is full, but if you would like to be added to the waitlist, please email Jillian at

We are also still looking for employer partners who are interested in hosting interns in the Brattleboro area between August 26 – September 12. If you are an employer interested in partnering, please email Missy at

The Trailblazers program is funded by many generous supporters, including The Green Mountain Fund, TD Charitable Foundation, Carhartt, KEEN, and Serve Learn Earn.


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