heavy equipment operator moving pine tree
Jun 29, 2024
NBC Montana

FVCC receives 5K grant to support heavy equipment operator program

The Flathead Valley Community College received a $5,000 grant to support the college’s Heavy Equipment Operator program.

The grant was funded through the Weyerhaeuser Giving Fund, with funding allocated to upgrade the program’s belly dump trailer.

The program provides hands-on experience to ensure graduates are job-ready and meet industry standards.


The Flathead Valley Community College sent out the following:

Flathead Valley Community College received a $5,000 grant from the Weyerhaeuser Giving Fund to support the college’s Heavy Equipment Operator program with upgrading its belly dump trailer.

The trailer allows FVCC’s Heavy Equipment Operator (HEO) students to train for on-the-job scenarios hauling gravel, dirt and the like that they might encounter in their careers. The entire program includes instruction on bulldozers, backhoes, track excavators, wheel loaders, skid steers, motor graders, rollers, tractors, water tankers, dump trucks and equipment transports.

“Weyerhaeuser’s support of our program helps us have the right tools that simulate things our students will encounter on the job. It is important for our students to train on a variety of equipment so they’re familiar, entry-level operators by the time they leave us,” said Chris Moore, FVCC HEO instructor.

In just two semesters, graduates of the Heavy Equipment Operator Certificate of Technical Science program can enter the workforce with the appropriate license classifications. According to Modern Campus Pathways data, the starting salary for heavy equipment operators in Flathead County averages around $47,000. A median average salary of $71,530 is earned by those with more experience.

The HEO program at FVCC is designed to equip students with the skills and knowledge necessary to operate and maintain heavy machinery used in construction, forestry and other industries. This hands-on program combines classroom instruction with practical experience, ensuring graduates are job-ready and meet industry standards.

“Supporting programs that engage the next generation of forest professionals while offering an opportunity for hands-on learning is a Giving Fund priority as we develop our future workforce. We are proud to help fund upgrading the HEO program’s belly dump trailer, which will provide FVCC students the chance to safely learn machine operation skills while experiencing how we sustainably manage forests,” said Weyerhaeuser’s Raw Materials Manager Zachary Miller.

Weyerhaeuser’s Giving Fund supports hundreds of important organizations and programs in the communities where they operate with funding, time, expertise and resources. In 2023, the Weyerhaeuser Giving Fund donated a total of $6.2 million in charitable grants, partnerships, matching gifts, research support, in-kind donations, and sponsorships to organizations throughout the United States and Canada.

Weyerhaeuser also assisted in the removal of beetle-damaged pine trees on FVCC’s campus in Kalispell. Their help was instrumental in ensuring the health of local pine populations as well as supporting real-world learning opportunities for students as they prepare for their careers in the field.

For more information about FVCC’s Heavy Equipment Operator program, visit