With more journeymen retiring from the trade every year, the electric utility industry is looking for the next generation of aspiring linemen to fill their work boots. To help support them in their quest, the International Lineman's Rodeo Association has funded several scholarships with support from Snap-on, which has donated the proceeds from its tool chest raffle to the scholarship program. In 2017, Travis Earls won the Billy Begnaud Scholarship, Nicholas Barrett earned the Gaylord Robinson Scholarship and Amy Halling received the International Lineman's Rodeo Scholarship sponsored by Snap-on.
John Tremblay, power generation and utility market manager for Snap-on Industrial, says his company couldn't be more proud to support the Lineman's Rodeo Scholarship Fund. He remembers back in 2015 when Snap-on was first introduced to the program. That year, Snap-on donated a roll cabinet with a custom lineman-themed image, and the raffle raised more than $10,000, which funded five scholarships on its own.
"It pleases us to know we’re helping folks enter into a rewarding career that will support them and their families for a long time," Tremblay says.
In the following Q&A, the scholarship winners from 2017 share their stories about winning the scholarship and their goals for their future careers in the line trade.
Travis Earls is able to pursue his dream of becoming a lineman with help from his scholarship.
Q. Why did you decide to apply for the scholarship?
A: Nicholas Barrett: I decided to apply for the Lineman Rodeo scholarship to help with the financial burden of Lineman School.
Travis Earls: I needed financial help.
Amy Halling: I was told about the scholarship from a student that had just graduated from the Electric Power Distribution (EPD) program. I decided I would go ahead and apply for it. As being a single mom of four sons, if I could receive the scholarship, it would greatly help me to accomplish my goal of graduating from EPD.
Amy Halling, shown with her four young sons, is using her scholarship to pay for her education in the line trade.
Q. What did you use the scholarship for?
A: Barrett: I used the scholarship to help pay for my tuition and a Smart Grid class at Northwest Lineman College.
Earls: It is being used to help pay for living expenses.
Halling: The scholarship money was used for what I needed for school, gas to get to and from school and bills so I could concentrate on my schooling.
Q. How has the scholarship helped you prepare for your future career?
A: Barrett: The scholarship helped me prepare for my future career by helping me pay for Lineman College so I could get the certificates required by many companies now to even be eligible for a groundman job and work my way up to becoming a lineman.
Earls: It has helped with the financial burden.
Halling: By receiving the scholarship, it helped me to be able to focus more on my studies instead of on worrying about financial needs for school. It also helped me to meet people from other companies, and people who have helped with advice or career information.
Q. Why do you want to become a lineman?
Barrett: I want to become a lineman because my dad's a lineman, and it has sparked my interest since I was a kid.
Earls: It is an exciting and rewarding career.
Halling: I want to be a lineman because I like to work with my hands, be outdoors, the job isn't the same every day, and making sure people have power.
Q. Do you have any other family members in the trade? If not, how did you find out about it?
A: Barrett: Yes, I have family members in the trade. My dad is a lineman, and I have an uncle who is a troubleman.
Earls: Friends of mine do it.
Halling: When I was talking to a lady at the college, I told her I didn't want anything in the medical field. She showed me some other courses they had. EPD was the one that caught my eye. I looked into it and decided it was the job I wanted.
Q. What would you like to do when you graduate?
A: Barrett: I graduated Northwest Lineman College on November 10, 2017.
Earls: I would love to go work for a transmission company. I feel they do extremely large projects that interest me.
Halling: When I graduate I want to get out into the field, working my way up to journeyman lineman.
Q. How do you see the world of line work changing in the next 20 years?
A: Barrett: I see the world of line work changing in the next 20 years by the smart grid improving, and keeping more people with power. I see safety being a big improvement in the next 20 years as well, to bring all the linemen home to their families at night. There will always be a demand for linemen to keep the lights on.
Earls: I feel the trade is continually getting stronger.
Halling: I see some of the way line work is done staying the same, but just like everything parts of it will change. New tools that come out, more efficient ways to do the work, and more safety procedures to try and keep everyone safe.
Q. What advice would you give to other aspiring linemen who want to apply for the scholarship?
A: Barrett: The advice I'd give to someone wanting to apply for this scholarship is, why not? Everything's worth a try. You'll never know what could of been if you don't try. I'm very fortunate to have receive this scholarship and see the amazing Lineman Rodeo in person.
Earls: Don't hesitate. Getting invited to the Rodeo and the dinners were a lot of fun.
Halling: What do you have to lose? It doesn't hurt to take the time and apply. I learned a lot from my references, and it was a good feeling to know their thoughts and opinions. For me, the program is hard work and a lot to learn, however, it will be worth it once I'm done. Being a single mom of four boys and going through school is tough. I believe anyone willing to do the work for school and once in the field will end up with a great career. I was very fortunate to receive the scholarship, and it means the world to me. It helped me be able to get through the schooling, and also meet a bunch of great people. Plus the rodeo was a great time.
Nicholas Barrett is a proud graduate of Northwest Lineman College.