Students introduced to careers at Van Wert fairgrounds

·2 min read

May 9—VAN WERT — While adulthood may seem like forever away in the eyes of a fifth-grade student, the decisions they will have to make concerning vocations and finances will soon be upon them. On Tuesday, fifth-grade students from throughout Van Wert County gathered at the county fairgrounds to learn about potential careers available to them once they reach adulthood while also learning about properly handling finances.

"Let's Get Down to Business" brought about 240 students to the fairgrounds from Van Wert, Crestview, Lincolnview and St. Mary's of the Assumption schools to not only learn about possible career paths after high school, but also to learn about healthy financial habits, the development of soft skills to attract employers and also about the local and regional economy. For Career Connections, the organization behind the event, these goals line up perfectly with its mission.

"Economic education, financial education and career exploration is our mission," Career Connections board president Cory Michaud said. "At the fifth-grade level, kids are starting to understand basic financial and economic concepts, so we also want them to be introduced to careers."

Michaud emphasized that the goal is not to have students lock in on a career path seven years before completing high school but rather to help them explore various career paths available to them in the region and maybe find one that begins to stir their interest.

"If you like working with your hands and working with wood, you could be a carpenter," he said. "We have AEP here with some trucks and linemen. Some of the funeral homes are here. The fire department, the police department and the county engineer's office are here, as well."

Exhibitors were excited to be able to share information and stories about their occupations with students and hear their questions.

"It's a good way to break down the barriers," Van Wert Police Officer Austin McIntosh said. "Sometimes people use the excuse that police is always bad, but we have a lot of good resources and this is a good way to talk to them and tell them what we do."

"It's actually a really exciting opportunity for the kids to see this at this age, where they're starting to build a future plan," Van Wert Federal Savings Bank branch manager Johanna Quarles said. "It's incredible that they put this together for them to have this experience."

Among all of the knowledge and experience shared Tuesday, one realization stood out to Van Wert fifth-grader Lucas Kremer.

"Taxes stink," the 11-year-old said.

Reach Craig Kelly at 567-242-0391 or on Twitter @cmkelly419.