Trinity Young dipped her hand into a yellow bucket of paper pulp.
“It’s slimy,” Trinity said, squishing the substance in her hand.
“It feels like really wet paper,” said her classmate Ava Marchese.
Trinity, Ava and the rest of the eighth graders from Queensbury Middle School toured Finch Paper and the UA Plumbers & Steamfitters Local 773 on Wednesday, Dec. 21, where they learned about careers in paper manufacturing and steamfitting.
“Papermaking has changed enormously in the last 100 years,” said Don Gallery, the division manager of quality at Finch Paper, which has been manufacturing paper products since 1905. “We used to do log drives down the river.”
Still today, logs pulled out of the Hudson River boast the Finch Pruyn stamp.
Gallery said he highly recommends a job in the paper industry. He has worked at Finch Pruyn for 26 of his 35 years in his paper-making career.
Eric Wood, the president of Finch Paper, told the students that they could be hired after high school graduation, and make $55,000 their first year on the job.
The purpose of the field trip was to expose students to aspects of career and technical education.
“It’s important to partner with our local industries to offer our students experiences that they may never get,” said Queensbury UFSD Superintendent Kyle Gannon.
The UA Plumbers & Steamfitters Local 773 will pay high school graduates while they train for five years. During their first year of training, 18-year-olds could earn $20 an hour and double that by the time they become journeymen.
During their visit to the Queensbury factory, students learned about welding, HVAC, plumbing and pipefitting.
“We’re kind of like your modern-day blacksmiths,” explained Ray Mahoney, a retired instructor.
Michael Jarvis, a Queensbury graduate, who is now the CEO and CFO, told students he never attended college.
“It’s possible to make a great career, if you put your mind to it and do what’s asked of you,” he said. “Then you can go places, and I’m a testament to that.”
He urged the students to be on time and show respect for coworkers.
“Respect is definitely at the top of the list if you guys want to go further,” he said. “Respect the people around you. That way those people around you will pick you up instead of hold you down.”