Middleburgh teen is building a solid future at Capital Region BOCES

Having grown up on a farm, Ashley Moorhead knows a thing or two about heavy equipment.

During the last year, the Middleburgh teenager has taken that knowledge and turned it into a professional skillset at Capital Region BOCES.

“I have learned so much at BOCES. I love it here,” she said during a recent break in learning in the Heavy Equipment Operation, Maintenance & Repair program on the Schoharie Campus.

Moorhead is one of 39 students enrolled in the program and one of a handful of women students who are challenging society’s gender norms. Students learn in the program how to operate and maintain large construction-related equipment, such as backhoes, dozers, front end loaders and excavators. Students also learn how to diagnose and repair common issues with diesel engines and heavy machines.

“I like all of the kids at BOCES, we all work together as a team,” she said.

Throughout October, Capital Region BOCES—in conjunction with its business and higher education partners—is celebrating National Careers in Construction Month by highlighting the multitude of careers and opportunities that exist in the industry and the divergent population of students enrolled at BOCES in preparation for those careers.

Moorhead said that besides the skills she has learned at BOCES, she has also found a drive to learn and excel.

“BOCES motivates me to go to school. I am not a kid to sit in a classroom. I am more of a hands-on person. I don’t like to open books, so coming here has motivated me, given me purpose,” she said.

As to her future, Moorhead plans to take her heavy equipment operator skills to National Grid.  

“National Grid sounds like a good place to work. I already know a lot of people that work for them. It’s close to home, offers good pay and National Grid is family-oriented,” Moorhead said.

Faculty and administrators praised the ambitious teen.

“Ashley has been a driven student since her arrival here last year. There is no doubt in my mind that she will be successful no matter what she chooses to do in her future work endeavors,” Heavy Equipment Teacher Matt Millard said.

Nancy Liddle, BOCES Managing Program Coordinator – Business and Community Partnerships, offered similar praise.

“Ashley came on tour of CTE in 10th grade and was determined to be successful. Highly motivated with a passion for the trade, she was asked to speak at CTE’s Women in the Trades event about why she chose BOCES and what she thought would be obstacles in a male-dominated industry? Her response was, ‘I love to learn and excel. I don’t anticipate anything stopping me’.”