HONESDALE — It was an eye-opening experience on Thursday for middle school students from this region.
The annual Occupation Exploration Day was held at the Wayne County Fairgrounds. The event is put on each year by the Wayne County School to Work Committee.
"This is to start children talking about a career path before they schedule their high school classes," said Debbie Kussoff, chairman of the committee which organizes this event.
Dan O'Neill, chairman of the Wayne County School to Work Committee, said he thinks this is a vital program because it gives the students some ideas about choosing a career path.
"It exposes them to people in the community," said O'Neill.
Most of the students who were at the event on Thursday were in seventh grade. They came from Preston Area, Damascus, Wayne Highlands and Forest City Regional schools.
Organizers have been putting on this event for well over a decade. It used to be called "vehicle day" but has since turned into a much larger gathering with a wide variety of career information.
O'Neill pointed out that some high school students were at the event helping out as chaperones. He said each year the high school students talk about when they went through the program. He said they have "fond memories" of the program.
Kussoff said she believes the students take a lot away from the program because they get to speak with people who are in various careers.
"They don't know what kind of careers are available," said Kussoff. "And they get to talk to a real, live person."
That, she says, is critical. One reason is in today's information-rich world, sometimes people gather information electronically but they don't talk to actual people in the field.
O'Neill said as part of the program, organizers ask the presenters to be specific in outlining their careers.
Here are the guidelines they are given:
• Describe your career or business and how you arrived at your goals.
• Types of career or employment opportunities available in your business or field.
• Courses in high school that might be helpful for preparing for a future in this field.
• Education necessary for a career in this field.
• Personal characteristics that are necessary for a successful career in this field.
• Volunteering or community service available to explore this field.
• Qualities that are desirable in potential employees at this business.
• Describe a typical day in your business.
• What benefits are available to employees as well as business owners.
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"We ask them to keep it brief," said O'Neill.
The reason is there are many businesses represented at the event.
There were 25 different fields represented on Thursday.
Another thing which has happened over the years is the new kids of businesses which are being featured.
For instance, this year there was an internet marketing station as well as massage therapy.
Kussoff said because of technology and other reasons, new careers are forming all of the time and they make an attempt to expose those to the students.
Another bonus of the program, she said, is it goes with the new state standards required for education.
Many teachers, too, will have the students who attended write essays about what they learned during the event.
The Wayne County School to Work Committee is an all-volunteer organization comprised of people from various walks of life.
Those range from the school districts to libraries to high education.
Kussoff said without the volunteers it would be impossible to put on successful events like the one held Thursday.
She also thanked all of the businesses who attended, saying they rarely are turned down when inquiring.
The presenters were:
• Civil Air Patrol
• DNF Brass and Woodwind
• Honesdale National Bank
• J and C Awards
• Lindsey John Deere
• M3 Internet Marketing
• Pennsylvania State Police
• Waste Management
• Wayne Conservation District
• Wayne County Public Library
• Luzerne County Community College
• Wayne Memorial Hospital
• Honesdale Chiropractic
• Ant Hill Farm
• Wayne County Human Services
• Wayne/Pike Adult Literacy
• Wayne Bank
• Re/Max of Wayne County
• Gina Lenz Photography
• Sam Tallo
• Texas #4 Fire Company
Sponsors of the event were:
• Wayne Bank
• Honesdale National Bank
• Fox Ledge
• Lackawanna College at the Hawley Silk Mill
Lunch was catered by The Red School House.