Julia Roberts Goad
WILLIAMSON — Eighth-grade students in Mingo schools got practical answers to career questions Wednesday when the West Virginia University Extension Service held a career fair.
The event was held at the Williamson campus of Southern West Virginia Community and Technical College.
Professionals from 24 fields spoke at the event. Students chose four fields they were interested in, and heard from representatives in those fields. Some of the careers represented were travel and tourism, truck driving, mining, media and journalism, law enforcement and food service.
After the career fair, students had to provide information that was given to them by the presenters, such as what training and education was needed for a certain job, the average annual salary and the future job outlook.
Counseling coordinator Karen Canterbury worked with WVU Extension Agent Mark Whitt to present the career fair. She explained that students in Mingo County choose a career path early.
“In the eighth grade, students choose a career cluster, classes that will prepare them for the education and training for a certain career path,” Canterbury said. “They can, of course, change that, but we give them the information they need to help them choose a career, based on the ACT explorer test and other aptitude and academic tests.
Many of the presenters were Mingo County High School seniors who are enrolled in programs at the school such as graphic design and the ProStart program, which trains students for careers in culinary arts and restaurant management.
Kaitlyn Estepp is a student at Burch Middle School. Her father Ronny is a coal miner, her mother Dolly is a stay-at-home-mother.
“I’m not sure what I want to do when I get older,” she said. “But I want to stay in the area.” She said hearing from cosmetologist Angie Jarrell, owner and operator of Hollywood Hair and Tanning, helped spark her interest in that career field.
Mark Whitt said the fair gives the students a chance to learn things they cannot in a classroom.
“Its a real eye opener,” he said. “When we leave and talk about jobs on the bus, they understand about benefits such as health insurance, they learn a lot here.”
Whitt said he wanted to thank the extension service, the Mingo Board of Education, SWVCTC and the presenters, but that he could not help but realize the fair was only possible through funds provided through the school levy, which is up for renewal. That election is Saturday.
“Like so many things in our schools, without the levy, this wouldn’t be possible.”