Originally published to Home Town Source on September 4th, 2022
Maryley Sherbon has been a Caledonia local all her life.
Despite transferring to Spring Grove’s school district in the third grade and remaining there through her freshman year of high school, Sherbon has always resided in Caledonia and considers the area to be her home. So much so, she even transferred back to Caledonia High School for her sophomore year and graduated as a Warrior.
“I am a Caleodnia Warrior to my core. I bleed black and gold,” said Sherbon.
Though fiercely loyal to her Warriors, Sherbon always knew life behind a desk was not for her and sought to learn by doing. As a result, Sherbon knew early on that she wanted to pursue a lasting career in the workforce after high school. It is in pursuit of this goal that Sherbon discovered the Operating Engineers (OE) Pathway Program.
The OE Pathway Program allows high school students to explore workforce options post-graduation. The program provides opportunities to get hands-on experience operating heavy machinery and handling equipment repairs, while simultaneously offering those involved the chance to earn high school, college and apprenticeship credits.
The OE Pathway Program is a joint effort with the Minnesota Virtual Academy and the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 49.
According to Sherbon, the OE Pathway Program is the first of its kind in Caledonia. It requires dedication outside of the classroom and is treated more like an after school activity. Upon completion of the program, it is on the students to reach out to various contacts that are provided by the OE Pathway and actively seek out employment or apprenticeship positions.
In order to qualify as an apprentice, you must also be 18 years or older and have a high school diploma or your GED. Passing a comprehension-based test called The Ramsey Exam is also a requirement.
Upon her completion of the Pathway Program, Sherbon explored her options and reached out to many businesses looking for open apprenticeships. However, she admitted to hitting something of a lull. However, recognizing she needed help, Chris Houg, a friend of the Local 49, reached out to Sherbon and offered his services to help her find an apprenticeship that fit her interests and career goals.
“[Chris] told me not to worry,” said Sherbon. “He helped me out.”
In an effort to connect Sherbon with other industry personnel, Houg reached out to some of his professional contacts in the area. Though Sherbon knew Houg was inquiring about her to his business contacts, she did not know what companies he was speaking with, where she might be placed or if an apprenticeship would even be available.
“I didn’t know if it was going to be a yes or a no answer,” said Sherbon.
On Sherbon's 18th birthday, Houg called, informing her of an official apprenticeship opportunity with MA Mortenson Construction.
Sherbon was overwhelmed with joy when she received the news and got to celebrate her birthday and the apprentice position simultaneously with her family.
Asked why she chose to participate in the OE Pathway Program and pursue a career as an apprentice, Sherbon said, “school after school sounded extremely boring to me,” and she never wanted to “eat school food again.”
Family road trips were also very popular in the Sherbon household. As Marley grew up, the family was known to explore state parks and visited many historical landmarks. Sherbon has always liked being on the road, as a result, and enjoys meeting new people wherever her apprenticeship takes her.
Sherbon is currently working with the Northern Wind Project taking down old windmills in a green energy field and replacing them with newer, more operational models.
To learn more about Minnesota Virtual Academy, visit https://mnva.k12.com/