By Jessica Domel

One of my biggest regrets in life is that I never learned how to weld or work wood when I had the opportunity.

I was fortunate enough to attend a high school that offered the classes, I just never had the time, or quite frankly, the desire to take them as a teenage girl.

Looking back, I wish I had taken those courses. It’s not that I need them for my career as an ag journalist. I probably don’t.

I want those skills.

I wonder how many people my age were given the opportunity to learn with their hands and how many people took advantage of those courses.

My dad and uncles all know how to weld and work wood. For them, it was not an option. It was a necessity on the farm.

When something breaks, you have to know how to fix it–even if it means using baling wire and duct tape.

What happens when things start to break and there’s a generation of people who don’t know how to fix it?

I worry about things like that. That’s one reason I was so glad to see a story in the Kilgore News Herald about their new dual credit welding program.

It allows students who are interested in trade skills to hone those while in high school instead of forcing them to look at colleges when that may or may not be their goal.

Vocational courses like welding, auto mechanics, and the culinary arts can also give engaged students a leg up after graduation. At many schools that offer similar courses, the students are even offered a place to work after graduation or continue learning in their desired field.

What a terrific way to start off a career!

Our communities need people who can build and fix things. Unfortunately, I’m not one of them right now, but we each have a role to play.

But I’m glad more and more communities across Texas are taking the extra steps to add more vocational courses back into the curriculum.

Not all of us want to learn from behind a keyboard.

Some of us just want a little hands-on learning. And those hands are what keep our communities a’ turning.