Middle school students from across Cullman County visited Wallace State on Thursday for the Cullman Area Chamber of Commerce’s 2018 Career Awareness Fair. (W.C. Mann for The Cullman Tribune)
HANCEVILLE – Approximately 1,000 eighth-grade students from across the county descended on Tom Drake Coliseum at Wallace State Community College (WSCC) Thursday for the Cullman Area Chamber of Commerce’s 2018 Career Awareness Fair. Students got up close and personal with job opportunities in agriculture, construction/architecture, business/tourism, safety/law enforcement, transportation/logistics, arts/design, manufacturing/engineering, health, government/human services and other career clusters.
Chamber President Leah Bolin told The Tribune, “We do this event every year, sponsored by Wallace State Community College, as really a way to get our eighth graders to be thinking about things that they’re interested in because, as you know, once they get to high school, they start making choices about fast track or dual enrollment, or some other things. So we want them to know what’s available, so we bring all 1,000 eighth graders, countywide, up here, and then a lot of our Chamber members just come and set up booths with different career clusters, anywhere from industry to the medical field and everything in between, and we give them a hands-on experience throughout the day, so that they can have one-on-one conversations with real professionals in that area.”
Cullman County Schools Superintendent Dr. Shane Barnette was on hand for the event and shared, “We’re really excited, because over 100 different occupations are represented today, and every eighth grader in Cullman County, from Cullman County Schools to the city schools, to the private schools, is here to be able to see these different occupations. And I’m hoping in my mind that it’s going to plant a seed in their mind of what they want to do one day, or at least what all jobs are available here in Cullman County, because a lot of our students go through school and they don’t realize how many jobs are available right here in Cullman County, how many different types of jobs.”
Barnette continued, “So, hopefully, this is going to plant a seed in their mind, and the things of ‘What do I need to do to prepare myself to be able to go into one of these occupations.’ For instance, Cullman County Schools have a booth, and we have probably about 40 different occupations within the school system itself represented at our table that we hope kids will come, and we want to recruit kids to work in our school system. Hopefully, if we get to them early enough, like in eighth grade, they’ll realize how important it is to work hard in ninth grade and 10th grade to be able to qualify for these programs. And so that’s why we’re doing it for eighth graders, and we’re really excited about that.”
Students traveled around the facility in groups to talk to Wallace program instructors and professionals in the fields represented and got to try out all kinds of tasks, from welding and heavy equipment simulators to hands-on work with engines and industrial robots. They saw live animals and got information on agricultural and veterinary jobs, helped artist Laura Walker paint a picture, and even practiced funeral preparations with the staff of Moss Service Funeral Home.
Bolin concluded, “Of course I’m going to brag on my staff for the work that they’ve done, and all of our community partners who help put this together. But, at the end of the day, I mean, we’re really hoping that this can be a part of our workforce solutions problem, so that we’re growing our workforce through our schools and we’re giving our students options of different career paths, because let’s face it: we’re a pretty global community these days, so there’s a lot of different variety of jobs. And I don’t think a lot of our kids know about it, and this helps them kind of open their eyes to a bigger Cullman County than they thought we had.”
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