What led you to become a student at NBSS?
After completing my undergrad in Business Administration, I found myself working in retail for many years. As I progressed through the company, I became heavily involved in display builds and merchandising. My experience in this world opened me up to building, woodworking, and a future in creation. I had known about NBSS through acquaintances, and applied to the Preservation Carpentry program as a step towards achieving a dream career.
What was the best part of your education?
Apart from the extensive breadth of skills I gained through NBSS, I found the best part to be the sense of community that went hand-in-hand with the education. Not only was all faculty extremely knowledgeable and helpful, they also provided a strong sense of kinship among people from vastly different experiences. I am so thankful for all my field-related education and will always treasure the relationships I formed.
What are you up to now?
I relocated to Burlington, Vermont at the end of the summer following graduation, and am employed as a Preservation Carpenter for the Shelburne Museum. The museum has a large campus and over sixty historic structures in need of preserving and repair. Currently, we are focused on repairing/restoring a failing gutter system from the Colchester Reef Lighthouse (1871).
Best advice you've gotten?
My second-year instructor, Michael Burrey, once told us that his dedication to preserving historic structures is driven by his reverence for the past. He explained to us that he feels an obligation to do things the right way to the structure itself, an idea that takes precedence over what may be the easiest or most lucrative. I think this mantra is something I have taken as advice and apply to my work in the field.
Dream project or job?
I would love the opportunity to do more sculpture work and carving. I am also very interested in castings for either sculpture or architectural elements!
Any advice for our students?
Take careful and fastidious notes of everything! I still reference my notes on the job!
See more of Mike's current work on his Instagram feed: @mcbernier