Pictured left to right: Jeff Davis (Assistant Supervisor of Buildings & Grounds), Bob Vining (Volunteer Mechanic), Jim Goserud (Tried and True Mechanic), Jim Caldwell (FLHS Principal). Bottom row: Max Bird, John Pace, and Vince Morrisette (Youth Mechanics)

Tried and True Small Engines, a social enterprise program of Lakes Center for Youth & Families (LC4YF), was established in 2015. Under the supervision of a life-long small engines mechanic, Jim Goserud, teenagers 15 years and older learn how to diagnose, repair, and sell small engines. They have repaired and sold machines from weed whips, snow blowers, to a zero-turn lawn mower.

As Tried and True started gaining traction, the need to expand arose. Program Manager, Jenna Jones, says, “We’ve had dozens of both boys and girls interested, community members supported the program by donating their machines to us; we quickly outgrew our shop space in Wyoming.”

That’s when the search for a new location began. “We have been fortunate to have the support from many school districts in the recruitment of youth,” said the Executive Director of LC4YF, Matt Howard, “but since our home office is in Forest Lake, it made sense to start the expansion here and have a more robust relationship with the Forest Lake School District.”

Forest Lake Superintendent Dr. Steve Massey and Forest Lake High School Principal, Jim Caldwell, were eager to create a partnership as it aligned with their current workforce and career development focus for their students.

“I could not be prouder of this partnership,” Principal Caldwell says. “It has really been a spring board to our work here at the high school and in the community around creating opportunities for students to gain hands on real life experiences through internship and apprenticeship opportunities. This is just a drop in the bucket as to what is to come.”

An agreement was made to utilize an area in a district maintenance building in Forest Lake. With the help of the Tried and True participants and LC4YF staff and volunteers, the shop moved over and opened up in their new home in January 2018.

Bill Schwartz is the Supervisor of Buildings and Grounds with the district; he said he is very happy with the opportunity and the way things are going. “The arrangement has been professional and respectful. The youth involved and Jim, the instructor, are very committed. I believe the future looks very promising with the potential of more opportunities,” Schwartz says.

Jeff Davis, Assistant Supervisor of Buildings & Grounds, says “Jim is a quality instructor and as tenants, they have been respectful and appreciative of the opportunity to utilize their area within the maintenance facility. I’m encouraged by the young people who are seeking hands on life experience. Wishing them continued success in the future.”

The machines repaired by Tried and True are fully refurbished and in like new condition. All proceeds from machine sales benefit the youth program. For more information on purchasing a machine or on how to apply to the program, visit our website at www.sites.google.com/view/triedandtrue or give LC4YF a call at 651-464-3685.