Middle school career camp exposes kids to more variety in jobs

The Greene County Career Center’s four-day camp got kids thinking about what they liked and how they wanted to work.

Local educators and the state of Ohio are trying to get students exposed at an earlier age to different types of jobs obtainable through career tech education.

The Greene County Career Center held a four-day camp last week for middle school students intended to help them think about different types of jobs.

David Deskins, the GCCC superintendent, said 84 kids attended the camp. He noted kids often know what their parents and teachers do but may not have as much exposure to careers outside of that.

“The intention was to try to be diverse and different, and let kids experience in a way that even if it was something they didn’t fall in love with, it was still so hands on and engaging for them,” Deskins said.

Deskins said he’s already had parents asking when the next camp will be, but said the district isn’t planning to put on the next camp until next year.

Kids were put into groups that paired videography and sports medicine; construction and veterinary medicine; and drones and engineering. Kids in the construction and vet group, for example, built birdhouses. They learned how to use hammers and safety equipment, but when one student asked what colors they should paint the birdhouses, the instructor suggested researching into what colors birds liked.

“Expanding on their creativity has been our goal,” Deskins said. “It’s been a hoot to watch.”

Parents paid a $50 fee for the all-day camp with lunch included, but the rest of the money came from state funds. As part of the last biennium budget, the state of Ohio has put aside money for younger grades to be exposed to career tech education.

GCCC curriculum specialist Brett Doudican said the governor’s Career Connections Initiative grant, which the career center used to pay for these services, doubled from last year to this year, from $2.50 per student in the county, or about $50,000 in total, to about $5 per student, or about $100,000. The GCCC used that grant to pay for materials in grades kindergarten through fifth to expose the students to in-demand careers and left over money paid for the camp.

Middle school students have previously been invited to tour the career center, but the hands-on approach engages kids differently.

Doudican said the students in the veterinary science concentration were learning how to do fecal exams. Some kids were grossed out, but others thought it was cool, and it showed the kids there’s more to being a vet than just petting dogs and cats.

“This is that more in-depth side where they get to experience that, and that does have a big impact on a lot of kids,” he said. “I mean, they might like it, they might not like it. But at least they have a good idea about what that entails.”

Doudican said he’s heard of one other career center, Eastland-Fairfield outside of Columbus, doing something similar. But most of the career centers in the state have used their funds for people talking to students about different jobs rather than using the hands-on approach.

“We just felt like that we wanted to put that money like at the level of the kids,” Deskins said. “We want to put this in creative activities that are going to engage every kid in our county.”

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