When Michael Corcoran helped repair and replace electrical and plumbing work in homes after the floods of 2008 and after the tornado that ripped through Parkersburg, the sometimes backbreaking labor didn’t seem like work.
“I enjoyed doing it because I knew I was helping people,” Corcoran says.
That attitude, along with a clear aptitude for electrical work and experience working for a company in the electrical and plumbing business led Corcoran’s FFA advisor at Wapsie Valley High School in Fairbank to recommend he work on a proficiency award.
When the FFA held its annual leadership conference this past spring, Corcoran accepted first place for the Home and/or Community Development proficiency award.
Second place went to Tucker Kehoe of the Prairie Valley FFA in Gowrie.
For Corcoran, the award was a result of both his interest in home repair and his willingness to donate his time and effort toward several charitable efforts.
Although he was raised on an acreage near Fairbank, Corcoran didn’t really get involved with FFA until his junior year at Wapsie Valley.
His parents, Ricky and Brenda Corcoran, had always planted trees and encouraged him to use his skills, but it was the FFA chapter’s greenhouse that really pulled him in to the organization.
The greenhouse was old and needed updating. Corcoran was already working at Dalton Plumbing, Heating and Cooling in Cedar Falls.
He used his experience working at Dalton’s to attack the problem of updating the greenhouse and convinced his employer to donate some of the materials needed.
When the floodwaters hit the area that year and the tornado hit Parkersburg he turned his attention to those events.
He and many other students at Wapsie Valley volunteered to help residents around Parkersburg as they cleaned up from the tornado. And his work at Dalton’s led him to the challenge dealing with flood-damaged homes and farm buildings.
Many of those buildings had to have old wiring or electrical systems or ductwork removed and new installed.
“Those were long days,” he says.
But those long days gave him a new appreciation for charitable work and for the work of professional craftsmen and craftswomen.
After graduating from Wapsie Valley last spring he started class at Northeast Iowa Community College in Calmar, where his is nearing completion of a one-year course in electrical work.
The FFA proficiency award for Home and/or Community Development is sponsored by Iowa Farmer Today.