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Former rodeo queen now drives a Caterpillar D8 for a living

This piece in the Modesto Bee trots out a woman-in-a-mans-world cliche about every fourth sentence, but I’m posting because my wife says her secret dream is to enroll in Caterpillar Operator School. It’s about one Kasey Barker Herndon, 23, who grew up in Oakdale, a small burg we drive through on our way to Yosemite National Park.

Q: How did you become interested in driving heavy equipment?

A: When I graduated from (Hughson) high school, I started driving a water truck for Quicksand Express sand and gravel company out of Hilmar. Then I worked alongside my dad for Ross S. Carroll, out of Oakdale, driving a water truck. One day they called and told me I’d been laid off (because of the slowdown in home construction). My mom and stepfather called and wanted me to come work with them in Utah. I oiled heavy equipment.

Q: How did you move up to operating bulldozers?

A: After we finished the Utah job, we went on to (Rollins) Wyoming, and my boss, Barry Smith, put me on a dozer.

Q: Where were you trained?

A: I just grew up around it and took to it. There’s no license. I just worked my way up the chain. You have to be part of the union (Operating Engineers No. 3).

Q: When was your first job running a dozer?

A: October, 2007. I run a D-8, which is a pretty good size. As far as we can tell, I’m the youngest female to run a dozer in United States.

Q: What do you like most about it?

A: It’s an adrenaline (rush). For me, being a woman, I get a lot of respect from my elders. I work in a man’s world. It’s not a battle every day, but it takes a lot of effort. I have to do it better or I won’t have a job. Men around me fight every day for this position.

Wow, an adrenaline rush driving a D8 … goes to show some folks were just born for a certain kind of work.

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Tom Mangan posted at 10:35 pm January 12th, 2009 |

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