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College, career fair hosts area employers, nonprofits, colleges

by Anna Campbell | February 15, 2023 at 4:00 a.m.
Juile Smith/News Tribune Cassidy Bax, right, explains to Ava Werdehausen of St. Elizabeth High School some of the opportunities available through the dental assistant program at State Tech in Linn where Bax is chair of the Dental Assisting Technology program. She explained that if she did take the 11-month course and passed, Werdehausen could be working as a dental assistant in just under one year.

RUSSELLVILLE -- The Russellville High School gym was nearly overflowing Tuesday as area employers, colleges, and nonprofits met with students looking for opportunities to work, learn and volunteer.

The high school held an area college and career fair last year and brought in 60 presenters. This year, that doubled to about 130 presenters, with nine area high schools attending in addition to Cole R-1.

The event had something for everyone. An entire cafeteria was dedicated to various service opportunities in the armed forces, and there were career and training opportunities for every area: arts, computer technology, education and childcare, finance, emergency response, health care, hospitality, natural resources, and industrial and technical work.

Tables were full of goodies and grab-bags, along with equipment for students to try out or put on, samples of work, and photos of volunteer opportunities.

The event was also an opportunity for Cole R-1 School District to recruit from within.

Cathy Trigg, director of technology, headed up a table strewn with computer parts, advertising opportunities for students in computer technology. Trigg said since she's the only tech person in the district, it can be tough to keep up, so she's looking for an intern or someone who might want to work part-time while attending college locally.

She said they would mostly work on hardware and would help out with Chromebooks as they come in.

Nichols Career Center Welding instructor Kenny Thomas sat at a table near the entrance alongside representatives from Nichol's sheet metal working, HVAC and Mechatronics courses. Student-built robots wheeled around on the floor as passersby entered.

Only juniors and seniors can attend Nichols, but students need to start applying as sophomores.

Thomas said programs can have embedded math and English so that a student who completes a full two years will also walk away with an English or math credit.

There were opportunities for students in search of some volunteer or summer work.

Volunteer Coordinator Becca Hickman with Central Missouri Foster Care and Adoption Association said she was looking for volunteers and was also providing information to high school students about Community Connections Youth Project, a program for youths aging out of the foster care system.

Hickman said volunteers could help staff "respite events," which run for four hours on a Friday or Saturday for families that need a break or a date night. Volunteers can also help out with office work or food care pack drives.

Donna Scheidt, executive director of Little Explorers Discovery Center, said she'd seen some interest at her table and thought she may have found a few volunteers to help out.

Mikala King, director of ASCEND, a support program for students with autism at Missouri State University-West Plains, stood behind a light-up cube displaying the program's logo.

The program, just launched in the fall, helps support students as they navigate academically, socially and in daily life at the two-year school.

"We want to get them to start using good habits to then help them transition out of college," King said, adding the program helps students hone in on what soft skills and hard skills they need to develop for their chosen career path. There are also volunteer peer mentors that meet with them to help them navigate college life.

There were also colleges and universities from near and far. Joy Giedinghagen, an admission counselor at Truman State University, said Truman offers 57 different programs. She likes to help students explore what careers they might be interested in by allowing them to look through a program list.

"I love to give them a view book even if they don't want to come to Truman, because that's a lot of different majors, even if they're just trying to gauge where they want (to go)," she said.

Some of the most popular programs at Truman include pre-medical, speech language pathology, communications and business.

photo Julie Smith/News Tribune Melissa Hart, left, explains the opportunities available to students from Eugene High School Tuesday during a career fair at Russellville High School. Sophomores Austin Colvin, near, Ava Jobe and Emma Frey listen to and ask questions of Hart, instructor and chair of Medical Radiologic Technology at State Tech in Linn. State Tech brought a number of technology staff to show students what the college has to offer.
photo Julie Smith/News Tribune The gymnasium at Russellville High School was filled with opportunity Tuesday as area employers, college recruiters, safety agencies and more were on hand to greet and visit with over 300 high school students from 10 area schools, including RHS.
photo Julie Smith/News Tribune Matt Corum, left, is ready to answer any questions as co-worker Lorie Kiso visits with Ethan Strobel, near, and Marshal Schroeder, both sophomores at Russellville High School Tuesday during a career fair. The event featured dozens of vendors and welcomed over 300 students from 10 area schools, including RHS students. Kiso is a senior member engagement specialist with Three Rivers Electric where Corum is a lineman, both of whom told these students about job opportunities with the electric cooperative.

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