By Dylan Babcock
LHS Journalism Student
A year ago, the Lincoln County Economic Development Foundation (LCEDF) organized a Countywide Strategic Planning Session spearheaded by LCEDF Director Kelly Larson.
The goal of the planning session was to gather information and ideas from the citizens of the county and determine community and economic development priorities for the future. Of the top priorities, one was to retain and attract youth, and another was to develop entrepreneurship within the county.
From the planning session a number of task forces were developed to focus on specific priorities. The Youth Retention and Entrepreneurship Task Force, now called the Lincoln County Home Team, zeroed in on hosting a countywide career day as a great first step towards their goals. On November 10, high school students from Lincoln, Sylvan-Lucas Unified, and Tescott attended the first Lincoln County Career Day at Lincoln Junior/Senior High School.
The day was filled with activities and presentations from local employers, all surrounding the theme “Whatever you want to do, you can do it here!”
“The day went very well,” Larson said. “For the first time organizing something like this, I couldn’t have expected it to run any smoother.”
The day started with a general assembly in the gym which included speakers Kelly Larson, Elijah Keever, Grant Heller, and Dr. Becky Cheney, along with her husband Mike Cheney. Students then broke out into three 40 minute sessions chosen from a wide variety of career interests prior to the event.
Following the individual speaker sessions, students met back up in the gym for lunch, provided by the Bank of Tescott, and prepared by school cooks, with assistance from Bank of Tescott employees. A trade show was held in conjunction with lunch and included raffles for door prizes.
Two more 40 minute speaker sessions followed. Larson said she hopes to grow the trade show in the future.
“I think there is room to grow the trade show with more vendors, perhaps add more demonstrations, to create more interaction between students and business owners,” Larson said.
Lincoln High School math teacher Christi Walter was impressed with this new event.
“The Lincoln County Economic Development Foundation did a lot of work and were very passionate about it and it showed. I think it was very well organized,” Walter said of the event. “I think that anytime students get to listen (to speakers) about different careers it helps them make decisions about their future. Also, students need to hear from people out in the field. I appreciated the fact that they told students the same thing we (teachers) tell them on a daily basis and hopefully it makes an impact.”
Lincoln High School business teacher Nikki Flinn said she appreciated the amount of work put into the event by organizers. Flinn was on the original planning committee that initiated the Career Day event and helped schedule the event within the school.
“There was a group of four teachers here that helped make student schedules, assign rooms, and worked with the group with coordinating things through the school,” Flinn said. “The event seemed to go off without any problems at all. I know that Kelly Larson and Gwen Knight spent hours and hours working on this event and they did an amazing job!”
Several students said they felt the event went smooth and was enjoyable, including Lincoln senior Brittni Harlow.
“I liked going around and looking at the different booths and visiting with those at the booths during the trade show,” Harlow said.
More than 60 different speakers from across a variety of different professions volunteered to remind area students, “Whatever you want to do, you can do it here!”
“This event was a major undertaking and it could not have happened without an incredible amount of local support,” Larson said. “I am so thankful for all the volunteers, the schools, sponsors, speakers, and vendors who gave so much of their time and resources to make the day a success.”
Organizers plan to hold the Career Day event in the future in an effort to allow area youth to gain exposure in fields of their choice while developing relationships with the local business community. The event was made possible in part by sponsorship from several Lincoln area businesses.