A future career for some Morris Area Junior High students could be in their own backyard.
Seventh-and-eighth-graders participated in the annual career day on Nov. 22 at the school. The day included tours of Riverview Dairy in Stevens County and the Minnesota Department of Transportation office and facility in Morris. A variety of speakers also talked about their careers with students during sessions at the school.
'It was great," Jayden Mithun said of the day.
The day gave students a glimpse at the variety of jobs available in the region.
"There were a lot of jobs I didn't know we had in Morris," Henry Berberi said.
Jobs such as a local blogger, Julie Evink, who makes cooking videos and works with product sponsors to do the videos, Ava Wayne said. "I didn't know you could do that and make it a job," Wayne said.
Although familiar with MnDOT and Riverview Dairy, the students were surprised by the diversity of jobs at each place.
MnDOT has engineers but also employees who operate snow plows, fix signs and do other work, students said.
Matthew Gomer said the MnDOT office must have 25 or more employees.
"Riverview had people in the office and lawyers to read interview (questions) and contracts for workers," Jaiden Olson said.
Students said Riverview also had employees who worked in dairy production, construction, feeding and other areas of the company.
Riverview wanted to make sure students learned about the variety of jobs at the company, said Natasha Mortenson, who works in education and community relations at Riverview.
The company has drafters who work in construction and employees who handle maintenance of the dairy's buildings, Mortenson said.
Yes, there are jobs tied directly to animal care and milking but "there are so many other jobs," Mortenson said.
While students who may have ties to farming know about jobs in agriculture, " A lot of non-farm kids don't see opportunities in agriculture," Mortenson said.
Riverview hopes to teach students about ag opportunities through participation in events such as career day, Mortenson said.
Career day could nudge a student in a certain direction for a career or at least get them thinking of classes they may need for that career, technology and computer instructor Jenny Maras said. And, it could teach them that a career they thought they were interested in may not be for them, she said.
Sydney Logeais is one student who said she now has an idea of what she might choose as a career.
But, students also heard from some presenters who said they weren't sure what jobs they wanted as adults when they were in school.
"It makes me feel good that I might not know what I want to do...," Mithun said.
Xander Knutson was somewhat skeptical that students will retain what they heard on career day.
Maras said teachers in the school will continue to discuss possible careers and jobs in the classroom as a way to build on what was shared on career day. Also junior high students participate in career day for two consecutive years, Maras said. When junior and senior students know that Maras and other staff prepare for career day they often talk about their own years participating in the event to Maras and other teachers. .
"I think you'd be surprised at how much students do take away," Maras said.