Local apprentice gets top honours
A long-time St. Paul business has earned some bragging rights following an annual provincial awards ceremony earlier this month, where Jordan Lepper received the Top Apprentice Award in Water Well Drilling.
Jordan works alongside his brother, Justin, and his dad, Darell at Lakeland Drilling. The business has been owned and operated by Darell for about two decades.
When choosing a career, Jordan says he saw it as an opportunity to go into the family business with his dad and older brother. Although there are moments where the trio doesn’t get along perfectly, for the most part Jordan and Justin believe it’s a benefit to be working alongside each other.
“I don’t think a lot of families can do what we do,” says Jordan. Both brothers have gone through the water well drilling apprenticeship program. Justin, now a journeyman, also did well when he went through the program a couple years ago.
Jordan credits his dad and brother for teaching him a lot of what he knows and helping lead him to his recent success.
“I grew up around it,” says Jordan, adding, “Dad’s had a lot of patience,” especially in dealing with the boys breaking stuff as they were learning, and looking over their mistakes. Jordan is also sure to make special mention of everything he’s learnt from his brother.
Jordan completed his apprenticeship training at Red Deer College, which is the only institution in the province to offer water well drilling. When speaking about the program, Jordan has an obvious respect for his instructor, John Larson.
“He made school a lot of fun,” says Jordan. He says Larson was the type of instructor who took the students’ opinions and knowledge into consideration, which allowed for Jordan to share his knowledge about mud rotary drilling, the method used by Lakeland Drilling, with the other students.
Jordan says that in his experience, water well drilling is a “growing industry,” and the career is not as straightforward as some people may think. The job involves learning about a number of other trades and requires a vast amount of knowledge and problem-solving skills.
“Everyone needs water to live,” says Jordan, adding, the job also has a big environmental portion to it now, with the company being called out to help clean up spills in the oil field.
“There are a lot of things to it. It’s not just drilling a hole,” says Jordan, adding, “It’s not even just about water wells anymore. It’s environmental.”
When asked to describe the job, Justin and Jordan agree that it can be a dirty job, and there’s a lot of maintenance and cleanup that has to be done. There’s also a crucial safety aspect to the job, and one mistake with equipment can lead to serious injury, says Jordan.
Whether he’s dealing with drilling a water well for a rural customer, or helping clean up a spill in the oil field, Jordan says the job is rewarding.
“When someone needs water at their house and you get them good water, it feels good,” he says.
And even after completing his apprenticeship and working in the industry for five years, he still feels he has more to learn, but achieving the Top Apprentice Award is validating.
He admits that at times, the road to getting his ticket was long and hard, but “learning is something I enjoy.”
Jordan received the award at a gala in Edmonton on April 11. Premier Dave Hancock, along with Raymond Massey, the chair of the Alberta Apprenticeship and Industry Training Board, presented the award to him.
This year, the Top Apprentice Award was handed out to 60 apprentices who earned top marks in their respective trades for the previous academic year, says a press release from the Government of Alberta.
The Alberta Apprenticeship and Industry Training Board hands out the awards annually.
“This special recognition program celebrates the extraordinary achievements of apprentices and the many individuals who guide and mentor them, and help them on their path to success,” says Massey, in the press release.