Thomas Perrault, a North Branch High School graduate, is planning to attend Alexandria Tech’s Diesel Mechanic program in the fall with his recently awarded $1,000 scholarship; Perrault is currently employed part-time with Zeigler CAT in Columbus, and is making plans for an apprenticeship with them after his first year of school. All of that in one sentence makes it sound easy. Well, the good news is that it is easy. You just have to want it and have the work ethic that Perrault does.

Perrault joined the Tried and True Small Engines program in April of 2017 after his parents found out about the program in a local paper and encouraged him to apply. His mom, Colleen, was excited about the opportunity of real, hands on work with a professional mechanic and knew the partnerships with local businesses would be beneficial.

Perrault was a perfect fit for Tried and True. He was scoring beyond expectations on his first standard evaluation. After his first session as a Youth Mechanic Level I (72 hours of shop time), he was offered a higher position as a Youth Mechanic Level III and has been earning a learning stipend since.

Being a local Forest Lake program, they have the opportunity to refer their youth mechanics to the Community Scholarship Foundation (CSF). CSF recognizes the need for well-trained citizens. CSF is proud to offer scholarships to students who are interested in technical colleges and plan to enter the trades. The best part? CSF also realizes that the bills don’t stop after the first year; Perrault is able to reapply next year.

Interested in learning more about Tried and True Small Engines? Give Jenna a call at 651-464-3685 or visit

Lakes Center for Youth & Families exists to stabilize and strengthen families and communities by offering critical support and intervention focused on ensuring the success of our youth. Since 1976, the organization has given hope and empowerment to more than 40,000 youth and families in the region. To learn about specific activities visit

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