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Hartselle Enquirer

Planting seeds for the future

Hartselle students explore future career options during camp

Two weeks after school officially let out for summer, a small group of students returned to Hartselle High for a career exploration camp. Students in grades six through nine had the opportunity to learn more about different career fields and explore some local industries.

Jeff Hyche, who oversees the career tech instructional planning for Hartselle City Schools, said the camp was an excellent opportunity for students to start thinking about career options early. “Our goal of the camp is for them to be exposed to different things but also to be able to go home and say ‘I liked that,’ or ‘Hey, I was good at that.’ It’s a win for us if they go home and tell Mom and Dad what they did and what they liked. It’s just to spark some interest,” Hyche said.

The camp explored career options in various fields throughout the week and welcomed special guests such as Redstone Federal Credit Union and Go Build Alabama. Students were able to take part in hands-on activities and learn more about jobs in each career field.

Jason Phelps is the executive director of Alabama Construction Institute, and he helped present at the camp as part of Go Build Alabama. With the camp designed for younger students, he said it was the perfect opportunity to help students take classes that will benefit their career interests. “We always say we want to work with young people to inspire them,” Phelps said. “An eighth-grader is going to make their first high school plan before they even go to the high school, so having some experience with these types of program allows them to think about careers that they might not have talked about before.”

In addition to hands-on activities, students were able to tour local industries and colleges such as Sonoco, Cerrowire, Decatur-Morgan Hospital and Calhoun Community College. Hyche said the community partnerships help students to not only consider career options but opportunities in Morgan County.

“I think one of the biggest things we have to do is to educate about the opportunities that are in our backyard, where the jobs are and where there is future growth,” Hyche said. “Companies are doing it because they are planting seeds for the future. They are hoping to get future employees.”

Hyche said all the career areas covered during the camp are offered at the high school at some level. He said he hopes for the students to be able to discover their interests and then pursue them once they start at Hartselle High.

Phelps said the camp not only helps students to plan their high school courses but also to discover new interests. “It is just the opportunity to do something outside their comfort zone – to try something new. Hopefully that will help them engage and take one of these classes when they get to high school or even open up their parents’ minds,” he said.

The camp was funded by a three-year grant from the Foundation of Fabrication and Manufacturers Association. The Hartselle Area Chamber of Commerce also helped sponsor the event and provided lunches for the students.

Hyche said he is looking forward to bringing the camp back again next year and continuing to grow career tech exploration.

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