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By Ann Arbor Miller, Published March 09 2009

In View: "Build and Grow"

A “fun little program” at a Fargo home improvement store is helping shape the next generation of builders while also teaching valuable life lessons.

Nationwide, Build and Grow Clinics are offered at Lowe’s stores. The free clinics are geared toward kids ages 5 to 12 and feature simple construction projects. Participants use nails and child-sized hammers to assemble wooden race cars, jewelry boxes, gingerbread houses and other objects. No drills or saws required.

The local program has been under the direction of sales associate and “answer man” Earl Behrens for the past couple of years. Behrens, 65, is a stickler for rules and process. Safety goggles are required as is the presence of an adult for each participant. Build and Grow is not a babysitting service.

He’s also proud of the Fargo store’s program, which attracts 50-plus kids to Aisle 17 twice a month.

Four-year-old Brady Leinen of Fargo, pictured above, is among those who regularly attend.

“These are fun little projects,” said his dad, Corey. “We’ve got them all somewhere around the house.”

A former subsitute teacher in the Fargo-Moorhead area, Behrens believes the benefits of Build and Grow transend the obvious. (Yes, the kids learn how to use a hammer. Yes, the company is building customer loyalty.) There are life lessons to be learned from following instructions, listening, planning, modifying and even bantering.

“In life we have to be challenged, and I think the children learn that here,” Behrens said.

If you go

What: Build and Grow Clinics

When: Typically held the second and fourth Saturday of the month

Where: Lowe’s, 5001 13th Ave. S., Fargo

Info: This free program is geared toward children ages 5 to 12. Registration and a signed waiver are required. To register for upcoming projects, visit lowesbuildandgrow.com.

Build and Grow

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“In View” is a photo column by Fargo-based photojournalist Ann Arbor Miller focusing on everyday people and places in our community. Look for it Mondays in The Forum.

To suggest future column ideas, e-mail annarbormiller [at] gmail [dot] com.