Top awards for carpentry apprentice

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April 28, 2017
When Devon Froland, Class of 2016, completed his final exams in his fourth period of carpentry at Lakeland College he had a good feeling he did well.
Devon Froland was named the province's top carpenter apprentice in April 2017.
“But I never thought about it province-wide,” he says with a laugh.

Froland was honoured as Alberta’s top carpentry apprentice by the Ministry of Advanced Education on April 21 at the Alberta Apprenticeship and Industry Training Board Awards. He was one of only 62 apprentices to receive a 2016 Top Apprentice Award, including Lakeland parts technician apprentice Samantha Niedzielski and heavy equipment technician – transport trailer mechanic Dean Coulson.

“I was pretty surprised, but it’s exciting,” says Froland, of Amisk, Alta. During the 20th annual awards celebration, Froland was also presented with the Alberta Construction Association Top Carpenter Award.

A red seal journeyperson, Froland’s carpentry education started when he was in high school, thanks to the Registered Apprenticeship Program. Heeding the recommendation of others, he went on to complete all four technical training periods of the carpentry apprenticeship program at Lakeland’s Vermilion campus. And now, Froland encourages others to enrol at Lakeland.

“I always recommend Lakeland to others and not just to people interested in being carpenters. I like the smaller town atmosphere and I feel Lakeland offers a lot more hands-on training,” says Froland, who received Lakeland’s Trades Staff Award in March. “The whole carpentry faculty was good to me, very hands-on and helpful with their training. If you don’t understand something, they go out of their way to make sure that you do. You feel really comfortable and at home there, and you definitely learn a lot.”

For the past six years, Froland has worked with Holte Builders Ltd. and says he’s learned a lot on the job from his boss Mark Holte. “He’s really excelled in carpentry. He’s received this Top Apprentice Award in the past, plus other awards at skills competitions. He always pushes me to do my best, so I have to thank him. He’s been a great role model.”

Along with working for Holte Builders, Froland started his own company – Froland Contracting – last year. His line of carpentry work is primarily residential and agricultural. “Since I got my start in carpentry, I’ve always been busy with work,” he says, adding building his own home doesn’t leave much time for holidays. Froland expects to complete construction of his home before summer starts, which is when his busy season begins.

“I really enjoy the hands-on portion of my work and that after my work is done there is always something there that I can look back on,” he says. “Growing up on a farm and being in the 4-H program helped grow my work ethic, but I have to give a lot of credit for it to Lakeland College and my boss.”

The annual Top Apprentice Award honours apprentices in each trade who achieved the highest overall marks in their final period of training, and received strong employer recommendations.

Carpentry is one of nine Alberta apprenticeship programs offered at Lakeland’s Vermilion campus.

Photos: From the top, Devon Froland was honoured not only with a 2016 Top Apprentice Award, but also with the Alberta Construction Association Top Carpenter Award at the Alberta Apprenticeship and Industry Training Board Awards. In his fourth period, Froland constructed a desk and is now in the final stages of building his own home near Amisk, Alta.
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