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Junior Achievement fair shows students career pathways available in Ohio

About 700 high school students descended on the Richland County Fairgrounds Thursday for the Junior Achievement's "JA Inspire To Hire" event, held to showcase jobs available in Ohio.

Students attended from five counties - Richland, Ashland, Crawford, Morrow and Wyandot.

Holly Dawson, development officer for Junior Achievement of North Central Ohio, said 57 vendors representing area companies, nonprofits, military and fire departments and more set up booths and offered hands-on activities to give students an idea of the types of careers that are available to them.

Dawson said Thursday was the first time to hold the career fair in person. The same event will be held March 1 at the Center for Performance at the Hall of Fame Village in Canton and March 8 at the Wayne County Fair Event Center in Wooster.

The hands-on activity booths were quite popular with the teens.

Loudonville High School junior Lily Valentine said she wants to become a paramedic.

She won a green sweatshirt from Schaeffler transmission Systems of Wooster after successfully putting together an electro-magnetic motor at the company's table.

"I think this is a great opportunity for a lot of people," she said of the packed event.

Community leaders attended the event too, including Ontario Mayor Randy Hutchinson and Safety Service Director Chris Knapp.

Getting teens info about careers

State Sen. Mark Romanchuk, R-Ontario, and his wife Zoi, attended the event.

Mark Romanchuk said the many employers offered an important career exploration for students.

"Kids can walk away with careers that they might have an interest in," he said.

He said students would be able to find a field that might interest them and lead to a job too.

"This type of thing is so important," said Romanchuk, who also runs a business in Ontario.

Jeff Miller, president and CEO of Miller Fabrication and Welding in Lexington, had a table setup showcasing local products representing the regional manufacturing industry. Michael Byrne Manufacturing also shared the booth.

Nearby, dispatcher Carri Lane of the Mansfield post of the Ohio Highway Patrol was assisting students wearing distracted vision goggles, as they attempted to walk a straight line on the concrete floor.

This event attracted mostly boys including Logan Kessler, 17, of Carey High School in Wyandot County who walked the line perfectly.

Capt. Mike Mullins of Springfield Township Fire Department was showing students lifesaving equipment and the emergency squad.

"We're just trying to recruit for the fire service. Every department is in need of recruits," he said. Mansfield Fire Department was setup nearby too.

Nate Spencer, a junior at Ontario High School, stopped to visit with Mullins.

"I plan to go to college but I'm not sure yet about my major," he said.

Spencer said the event was nice. "There's a ton of stuff to do," he added.

Charter Next Generation of Lexington was attracting students with a Wheel of Fortune-like wheel students could spin.

Kaci Griggs, senior talent acquisition specialist at Charter Next Generation, said she was asking students to spin the wheel and tell her what school they were from and their plans after high school.

Charter Next Generation's table was filled with examples of products the company makes including plastic bags for Lifesavers, Swedish Fish and Frosted Flakes cereal as she and her colleague showed students the resin pellets that are turned into plastic.

"We're hiring for material handlers and machine operators," Griggs said. "And we're expanding (in Ontario)," she added.

Junior Achievement showcases careers to students

Junior Achievement of North Central Ohio serves 16 Ohio counties.

Dawson said the event was held to expose students in high school to the career pathways that exist locally.

"Ideally our goal is to keep students in Ohio and this is an opportunity for them to see hands-on, engaging opportunities, to open their eyes to them what is available locally," she said.

Sourch: Lou Whitmire, Times-Gazette


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