Adventures in welding
LOHRVILLE – Sparks flew when members of the Union 4-H Club gained hands-on experience on Feb. 23 using a MIG welder and plasma cutter to bring their fair entries and other projects to life.
“Since we have boys and girls in our club,” said Annette Wedemeyer, who leads the club with Shari Seil, “we want to find activities that are interesting to them all.
“We saw some welding projects at the county fair last year and thought this might be a good learning experience for the kids.”
Lohrville-area farmer Brent Bergquist volunteered to host a couple of welding 101 seminars at his shop this winter for the 4-Hers, with groups ranging from four to seven members.
Under the supervisor of local farmers, the youths were able to try using an assortment of welding other shop tools.
“4-H isn’t just raising livestock, woodworking or cooking,” said Bergquist, who learned to weld from his high school FFA instructor, Ed Ricks. “I want to help the kids broaden their trade skills.”
David Wedemeyer, 12, was excited to weld for the first time.
“It’s easier than I thought it would be,” said Wedemeyer, who is making a double bunker for silage for his 64th-scale farm. He said he also plans to weld a toy tank or jet.
Decorative metal items featured on Pinterest inspired Hannah Seil, 14, to learn the basics of welding.
“There are a lot of fun ideas on Pinterest,” she said, “and I want to try making some of them.”
Learning by doing
Safety was lesson one for all the 4-Hers, who were taught the importance of wearing the proper protective gear and handling the equipment properly.
Then the 4-H’ers practiced their welding skills on pieces of metal supplied by Gehling Welding, of Carroll.
Bergquist held their hands on the first few attempts before the budding welders were allowed to go solo.
“Anybody can do this, once you learn the basics,” said Bergquist, who won an ag publication’s “I Built the Best” contest – a trailer he made to haul water to the field at spraying time.
His award included a trip to the 2012 Welding University at Miller Electric Manufacturing Co. in Appleton, Wis.
He also took home a Miller Bobcat 250 EFI engine-driven welder/generator.
Bergquist said he uses his welding skills on various projects around his corn, soybean and cattle operation.
“I like making things and being able to bring ideas to life,” said Bergquist, who has also built metal shelves for his son’s bedroom and yard ornaments for his wife.
After Bergquist taught 4-H’ers the basics of welding, his friend, Zac Lightner, let club members try their hands at using a plasma cutter.
“I grew up doing this kind of hands-on work,” said Lightner, who also farms in the Lohrville area. “While the kids are sometimes afraid at first to try welding or using the plasma cutter, they get the hang of it pretty quickly.
“It’s rewarding to watch their confidence grow.”
With guidance from Lightner and Bergquist, Levi Meyer, 10, of Lohrville, created a large butterfly from horseshoes and other items.
He said he plans to give the metal artwork to his mother.
“It was easier to make than I thought it would be,” Meyer said. “These guys are good teachers.”
Before the welding class ended, Bergquist helped fine-tune some detail work on the 4-H members’ projects and invited them back to finish their projects.
“4-H is all about learning by doing,” said Bergquist, who is a former member of the Union Leaders 4-H Club of Lohrville. “It’s great to see these 4-H kids using their new skills.”
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