FORT RILEY (KSNT) – A new partnership is seeking to help U.S. Army soldiers to get hands-on experience and skills in construction, while helping out a nonprofit home building organization.

Home Builders Institute, a Fort Riley Career Skills Program, has partnered with the Manhattan area Habitat for Humanity to build two new homes to benefit lower income families in Ogden. Representatives of both organizations had a groundbreaking at the location of the new homes, 210 S. Elm, on May 27.

“This is an amazing opportunity for our students,” Marie Gazelle, Regional Career Development Coordinator for HBI on Fort Riley, said. “They do a lot of their hands on training in the classroom, but this gives them an opportunity to get out into the field and see what it would be like in an an actual career. It also gives them an opportunity to get the volunteerism under their belt as well.”

The partnership will allow transitioning soldiers to get experience with the construction industry as students of the Career Skills Program, while they learn to construct, wire and plumb homes according to local and state codes. Career Skills Programs include any career or technical training, or work experience in related occupations and credentialing approved by the Secretary of the Army to facilitate the transition of soldiers into private sector jobs or careers.

“The program started out as being something that I could do to get myself a leg up on the civilian side,”
Tabetha Love, a current HBI CSP student and transitioning service member, said. “I started the program
not knowing what I was going to do, but now I’m looking into becoming an electrician. Just being part of
HBI, learning these skills and potentially being able to do something like this in my own community is

A total of 155 soldiers have graduated from Fort Riley’s Home Builders Institute Career Skills Program and 89 current students will be participating in the Ogden project.