Rose Waibel leads the way as the first female welder intern at Proline Fabrication

RAMONA MCCALLISTER - Rose Waibel puts a series of welds on a flatbed truck bed, as mentor Joel Lowden looks on.

Proline Fabrication recently gained a new welder, and she is sparking a new trend.

Rose Waibel is the company's first female welding intern.

"I want to show people that girls can do things," remarked Waibel. "Anybody can do anything they want."

The multi-talented high school senior is also involved in dance and worked as a referee for Crook County Parks and Recreation soccer for three years.

She has always liked to build things, and she especially likes the design and techniques of welding.

"It's not simple, but once you get it done, it looks neat," she added. "I like the sparks."

Waibel began her paid internship approximately one month ago. She works two to three hours per day, and sometimes more hours when the opportunity allows. She is on the company payroll, just like other employees.

"Right now, we are working on truck beds and bumpers," Waibel said .

The company is locally owned and operated, and Dean Pettyjohn is the owner of the company. Pettyjohn began the business in 1987. For the past 20 years, he has worked with the high school to hire student interns. Many have become permanent employees.

"We have had lots of kids — and it has been a great program," he commented of the internships over the past 20 years. "It's all about helping the kids."

"It's good for everyone," Pettyjohn added. "When you teach someone, you learn more than they do,"

The fabrication business focuses mainly on bumpers and flatbeds.

"She is doing really good," Pettyjohn said about Waibel's new internship. "She's really excited. She can weld pretty good — as good as any kid starting out to weld."

The job placement was made by the Youth Transition Program (YTP) at Crook County High School, and a partnership between Jason Carr, Prineville Internship Coordinator for the Prineville-Crook County Chamber of Commerce, and Ryan Cochran, CTE Workforce Development Coordinator for CCHS.

The YTP Program provides job training and instruction while eligible students are in school and follow-up support services for up to one year out of the school, in order to help students get better jobs as young adults.

Stacey Koch and Patty Bates are both full-time YTP specialists for Crook County schools. When they learned that Waibel was interested in welding, they reached out to Carr and Cochran to set up an internship.

"It was a good partnership between us and them," Bates said.

"There is lots of support at school through the CTE program and Jason and Ryan," Koch pointed out. "It's so nice to have them really embrace everybody's programs and try to help everybody. It's been really neat to see that happening within our community."

"It's her senior year, so she is done after this," Bates added . "She really wanted to see if this was something she wanted to do long-term. So far, she's loving it. It's pretty good first-time job."

Waibel took two terms of welding through the agriculture program at CCHS. She received a welder, mask, gloves and her first welding helmet for Christmas. Agriculture instructor Dan McNary also helped out Waibel with some needed welding supplies.

She also has the opportunity to make other projects as the opportunity arises at work. Waibel really likes the idea of using welding to create art. She enjoys welding bumpers and flatbeds and is looking forward to taking on more complicated projects.

Joel Lowden works with Waibel as she learns meg welding techniques. He unofficially became her mentor.

"It's kind of fun for me," Lowden said. "I think it's really cool that the school offers that (program). When I went to school in Illinois, we didn't have a program like this."

He added that an internship would have been really valuable while he was going to high school.

"Maybe she can spread the word and inspire other girls," he concluded.

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