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Partners in Education Volunteer Spotlight: Doug Ford of D.D. Ford Construction

Building on belief in career education, contractor enthusiastically promotes opportunities for students

[Noozhawk’s note: One in a series on Santa Barbara Partners in Education volunteers.]

Doug Ford learned about Santa Barbara Partners in Education from a friend and as a member of the Tradart Foundation, a nonprofit organization with a goal of promoting career development and workplace preparation programs through industry and community partnerships.

Ford, who later became a member of the Partners in Education board, was interested in helping the community, but perplexed about how to get involved.

      |  Partners in Education President’s Council Series |  Complete Series Index  |

“I believe our current education system is a ‘one-size-fits-all’ model that leaves many youth out,” said Ford, who also runs his own company, D.D. Ford Construction Inc. “Not all our local students are planning on pursuing a college education. I want to help educate young people about all their career options.”

Ford recognizes that Santa Barbara cannot tackle this issue without a collaborative use of its resources. Hence the need for volunteer support.

“Volunteering not only helps schools and communities, but it also is a rewarding experience for volunteers,” he said.

For Ford, it just took presenting once to a group of excited students to get him hooked. He realized it was enjoyable and more than just “an obligation.”

Ford has helped students and schools through Tradart and Partners in Education in myriad ways. He sets up presentations and projects for students during Career Days at various local high schools and junior highs. He and his colleagues in the construction industry even manage to bring cranes to the campuses for a bigger visual impact on the students.

He speaks to classes all over Santa Barbara, including at Los Prietos Boys Camp, whose students are adjudicated youth who have the opportunity to turn their lives around. The construction business is always a big interest among the young men and Ford is able to provide them with the information they will need once they graduate.

He also frequently participates in mock job interview sessions at the high schools, helping students prepare for the job world.

If you don’t think he does enough, Ford has also opened the doors of his company to students through the Partners in Education Job Readiness Training & Internship Program, which provides qualified high school students with paid internships in their career fields of interest.

Sonia Trujillo, currently a San Marcos High School senior, interned for D.D. Ford over the summer. Interested in building design and architecture, she says her internship helped her to build communication skills.

“Being at the front office, I learned how to answer phones and transfer calls,” she said. “I was also fortunate enough to be part of a site meeting. The design team, architect and interior design, the owners, and Doug were all there and I learned how they work together to get a job done.

San Marcos High School senior Sonia Trujillo interned with Doug Ford at D.D. Ford Construction Inc. over the summer. 'I now have a better idea of what the industry is like and what personal skills I will need to succeed in the field,' she says.
San Marcos High School senior Sonia Trujillo interned with Doug Ford at D.D. Ford Construction Inc. over the summer. “I now have a better idea of what the industry is like and what personal skills I will need to succeed in the field,” she says. (Santa Barbara Partners in Education photo)

“I now have a better idea of what the industry is like and what personal skills I will need to succeed in the field. I am so grateful to Doug Ford for the experience,” she said.

Ford has made it a point to involve himself with as many career education projects as he can. He is one of Partners in Education’s most active supporters, and is always looking to help recruit friends and colleagues to be new volunteers.

Career Days remain one of his favorite volunteer activities. He enjoys watching the excitement youth display while working on construction projects as part of the activities.

“When encouraging others to get involved, I just say, ‘Try it once and you’re going to love this and you’re going to want to do more and more and more’,” he said.

Ford says that to serve our youth effectively “schools need to provide relevant education, engage the students, and there should be some excitement,” which he is happy to provide — sometimes with the help of a giant crane.

D.D. Ford Construction Inc. is a member of the Partners in Education President’s Council, a group of local businesses, organizations and individuals who support Partners in Education with contributions of at least $2,500. Any company or organization has the opportunity to participate in Partners in Education, but the President’s Council is limited to no more than 30. Partners in Education is a program of the Santa Barbara County Education Office.

» Click here for more information on Santa Barbara Partners in Education.

» Click here for more information on how to become a President’s Council member or contact Michelle Magnusson, development and membership director, at 805.964.4710 x4417 or .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

» Click here for a related article from Partners in Education board president Lynda Nahra.

» Connect with Partners in Education on Facebook.

      |  Partners in Education President’s Council Series |  Complete Series Index  |

— Leticia Carrillo is an AmeriCorps volunteer who has been working as a Santa Barbara Partners in Education volunteer coordinator.

Not all Career Day presenters can bring a crane with them, but those from Tradart Foundation can.
Not all Career Day presenters can bring a crane with them, but those from Tradart Foundation can. (Tradart Foundation photo)

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