Inside a trailer, students train for good jobs

By on April 26, 2023

Trish and Josh Seaford have been driving the Be Pro Be Proud truck around the state, introducing students to the possibility of rewarding work in the trades and other areas.
First Flight High School sophomore Sydney Ross at the indoor construction simulator.
First Flight High School 10th grader Macallister Sawyer tried his hand at almost every simulator.
Manteo Middle School 8th grader Sharon de Leon tries to learn how to be a high tension line worker.
The Be Pro Be Proud trailer.
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The Be Pro Be Proud initiative comes to Dare’s COA campus

It’s the morning of Monday, April 24 and there’s about 30 Manteo Middle school students in the Be Pro Be Proud trailer parked on the College of the Albemarle (COA) Dare County campus. The kids are really excited—and perhaps the best way to describe it is as organized mayhem.

Except the mayhem has a real purpose.

The Be Pro Be Proud trailer, hauled by a truck, has been traveling the state, stopping at schools and career fairs from Asheville to Manteo, bringing the message that there are great paying and very rewarding jobs that don’t require a four-year college degree.

Inside the trailer, it’s a high-tech wonder of simulators. Driving a 53-foot-long tractor trailer is clearly the most popular thing to do, but everywhere there are kids wearing 3D goggles as they try to fix broken plumbing or build a wall. There’s a welding simulator and a log loader—the log loader, the operators are finding, is more difficult that it appears at first.

Manteo Middle School 8th grader Sharon de Leon is at the power line worker simulator, her eyes covered by goggles, her hands gripping the handles that help to tell the simulator where she’s going. She seems to be doing ok.

Be Pro Be Proud is a nonprofit that, according to the website is, “leading the movement to bring a new generation of pride, progress and professionals to North America’s skilled workforce.” Be Pro Be Proud is a national organization founded by the Arkansas Chamber of Commerce in 2016 to address a widening skills gap in transportation and the trades. Since that time, the organization has licensed its program in Tennessee, Georgia, South Carolina, New Mexico and North Carolina.

Josh Seaford and his wife Trish have been traveling the state for Be Pro Be Proud North Carolina telling kids about the organization. The website, Seaford explains, has information about professions and companies that are looking for employees.

Looking around the trailer at the eighth graders at the different stations, he comments that for this age group, it’s really about introducing them to the trades.

“It’s a game room, especially for middle schoolers…We pretty much just show them the [Be Pro Be Proud] website and I go through it real quick,” he said.

The next day, on Tuesday, April 25, highs school students will be visiting and for those students, things are different.

“Once we get to high schoolers, we go a little more in depth with the with the website, because most of them are starting to think, ‘Hey, you know, it is getting closer to home here. Especially when you get juniors and seniors,” he said.

The next day is, in fact, different. The 10th grade First Flight High School students are more focused on what Seaford has to say. There is still very much a fun factor to what they’re doing—the line to drive the tractor trailer is still the longest—but for these kids, there is more thought about what they’re doing and what they might want to do with what they’re learning.

Sydney Ross is at the construction simulator. He’s carefully moving materials around, concentrating on each movement to make sure it’s done right.

Macallister Sawyer is at the welding simulator. He’s already tried his hand at it and now he’s standing by offering encouragement at another student sees how well she can spot weld.

The goal of helping students find careers in areas that do not require a four-year degree has been something Tim Sweeney, Dean of the COA Dare County campus, has been emphasizing for some time.

“There’s a whole generation that has missed the career and technical fields,” he explained. You have an aging population, the baby boomers, that are leaving the industry now. And there’s nobody to replace them.”

Duke Geraghty, the Government Affairs Director for the Outer Banks Home Builders Association (OBHBA), is also the president of Starco Realty and Construction. He has seen firsthand the effect a lack of skilled workers has had on his workforce.

“There’s a shortage of truck drivers right now,” he said. “I can’t get materials. We’re waiting 12, 16 weeks for windows.”

Geraghty first saw the Be Pro Be Proud truck at a North Carolina State Home Builders Association event in October and knew right away, it was something that he wanted Outer Banks students to experience.

“I went inside and looked and actually said, ‘Wow.’ I said, this is amazing, and this is something the kids can relate to.”

For Sweeney, hearing from Geraghty about the truck, was consistent with what he is hoping to create at COA and in line with the relationship he and the OBHBA have forged.

“I’ve got to give credit to the Outer Banks Homebuilders,” he said. “What you saw today is a lot of partnerships and hard work…a community college working with industry and the needs that they have,” he said.


Barnhill Building Group has been selected as the Construction Manager @ Risk by the College of the Albemarle and is seeking to pre-qualify construction trade contractors to submit bids for the furnishing labor, materials, equipment, and tools for the new College of The Albemarle – Allied Health Sciences Simulation Lab (COA Health Sciences) located in Elizabeth City, NC. Please note: Only subcontractors who have been prequalified by Barnhill will be able to submit a Bid.

The project consists of the new construction of a 38,000-sf, 2-story expansion to the existing Owens Health Sciences Center and will house classrooms, labs, and a simulation lab. The site is just over just over 4.5 acres and is located on an active campus. This new construction will be a steel structure with a brick and metal panel veneer, curtainwall, and storefront glazing with a PVC roof membrane.

Principal trade and specialty contractors are solicited for the following Bid Packages:

BP0100: General Trades

BP0105: Final Cleaning

BP0390: Turnkey Concrete

BP0400: Turnkey Masonry

BP0500: Structural Steel & Misc. Steel

BP0740: Roofing

BP0750: Metal Panels

BP0790: Caulking / Caulking

BP0800: Turnkey Doors/Frames/Hardware

BP0840: Glass & Glazing

BP0925: Drywall

BP0960: Resilient Flooring

BP0980: Acoustical Ceilings

BP0990: Painting & Wallcovering

BP1005: Toilet Specialties / Accessories / Division 10

BP1010: Signage

BP1098: Demountable Partitions

BP1230: Finish Carpentry and Casework

BP1250: Window Treatment

BP1400: Elevators

BP2100: Fire Protection

BP2200: Plumbing

BP2300: HVAC

BP2600: Turnkey Electrical

BP3100: Turnkey Sitework

BP3290: Landscaping

Packages may be added and/or deleted at the discretion of the Construction Manager. Historically underutilized business firms are encouraged to complete participation submittals.

HUB/MWBE OUTREACH MEETING: Barnhill Building Group will be conducting a HUB/MWBE Informational Session. You are encouraged to attend the following session to learn more about project participation opportunities available to you. These seminars will help to: Learn about project and scope; Inform and train Minority/HUB contractors in preparation for bidding this project; Assist in registration on the State of North Carolina Vendor link; Stimulate opportunities for Networking with other firms. Location and time TBD. Please visit our planroom at for more information.

Interested contractors should submit their completed prequalification submittals, by July 22, 2024, to Meredith Terrell at or hardcopies can be mailed to Barnhill Contracting Company PO Box 31765 Raleigh, NC 27622 (4325 Pleasant Valley Road, NC 27612).



  • Nancy Griffin

    What an awesome experience for the students! It gives me such hope for the future of workforce development and the next level of PreK-14 education. Thanks for bringing this vision to Dare! Well done!d

    Wednesday, Apr 26 @ 6:59 pm
  • Mechanic

    I am a heavy equipment Mechanic just retired for a job i have worked for the past 40 some year i didn`t have a college degree went for two year to WCC in Goldsboro I am glad to see thing like this trailer going around to various school there are a lot of paying jobs now the dont require a college degree .what i see for the future is a person male or female coming with these skills can find good high paying jobs anywhere

    Friday, Apr 28 @ 10:59 am