Explore the Trades

TCC awarded $10K Explore the Trades grant for HVAC-R program
Posted on 05/14/2024
Dan Parker

The HVAC-R program of the Poplar Bluff Technical Career Center has secured its second five-figure competitive grant in recent months in a continued effort to align the training facility with modern industry standards.

The heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration program was one of only a dozen chosen nationwide to be awarded the $10,000 ‘Explore the Trades Skills Lab, Built By Ferguson’ equipment grant to add an air quality zoning system to the classroom, the nonprofit announced Wednesday, May 1.

“I would like to set up a zoning system in the shop to show the students the importance of level loading conditioned space, how HIPAA filters help air quality [and] change air pressure, how zoning can be more efficient if used property, and the list can go on,” HVAC-R instructor Dan Parker wrote in part in his successful proposal. “The main goal would be to educate the students on the benefits of air quality and control.”

For the past three years, Explore the Trades has delivered heating and cooling plus plumbing equipment to 26 schools across the United States, impacting over 2,000 students, according to a press release issued by the organization in collaboration with Ferguson, one of the leading distributors in North America. The TCC is one of two grant recipients in Missouri, with the other school system being located in the Kansas City metropolitan area.

“We are proud to partner with Explore the Trades and thrilled to see our shared vision of building a sustainable skilled trades pipeline come to life,” stated Melissa Hazelwood, director of social impact at Ferguson. “With the recent surge of interest in trades careers and the substantial investment in our country’s infrastructure, the need for skilled tradespeople has never been more apparent. Through our concerted effort, we are not just providing students with tools, we are laying the foundation for lifelong careers.”

Earlier in the school year, Parker was awarded a $15,000 SkillsUSA Classroom Enhancement/Community Service Grant, which was largely used to purchase handheld and power tools from Lowe’s Home Improvement, the grant underwriter. Some of the tools had not been upgraded since Parker was a student in the program over a decade ago, he noted.

“I’m retrofitting my class and trying to make it better than it was by applying for as many grants as I can,” Parker explained. In addition to the two heat pump systems previously installed in the shop space, Nortek recently donated several new self-contained units, valued at $35,000, for students to practice servicing.

“Mr. Parker is a go-getter when it comes to seeking out grant opportunities like this one in order to meet the needs of the industry,” said Dr. Leigh Ann Cornman, TCC director. “I’m super excited for the students that they will be able to gain knowledge as he mentors them on this new state-of-the-art equipment.”


Cutline: TCC instructor Dan Parker, pictured in his shop, has brought in a total of $60,000 in upgrades to the HVAC-R program through grants and donations this school year.

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