Malheur County youth explore careers at TVCC

ONTARIO – More than 50 incoming Malheur County high school freshmen explored different careers over three days last week, beginning Tuesday, June 18, at Treasure Valley Community College.

The event, dubbed “Destination Dream Job,” was hosted by the Malheur Education Service District, OSU Extension Office for Malheur County, Frontier Hub for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math, and Treasure Valley Community College.

Barbara Brody, an associate professor of practice family and community health, said the future freshmen were introduced to various careers, from health science to agriculture. Brody said the industries the organizers brought in were based on data from YouScience, an online career guidance tool, that educators administered to the students before the event. In YouScience, students go through activities to gauge aptitude and career interests.

Brody said the event focused on examining all the different careers in particular fields, such as construction and agriculture. She said students told her afterward that they never realized an industry could have so many different career paths.

The organizers also brought in an official from the state Treasury Department to discuss the finances of secondary education, whether college or a vocational school.

She said the session touched on college savings plans, the “do’s and don’ts” of establishing credit, and avoiding “impulse buying.”

Brody said the organizers were “intentional” about bringing incoming first-year high school students to the event.

She said the idea is to get students to think about a career path when they begin selecting high school classes.

“The goal was to make them see, ‘well, if I want to go into the health field, then I do need to take my math classes. And I need to take this seriously,’” she said.

Many high school students don’t recognize the importance of certain classes, be it math or English, or other elective courses, she said.

“High school is important for preparing a career,” she said.

For instance, during a law enforcement presentation, she said the session went from a mock arrest to a court proceeding. She said one thing they talked about was that those who want to become attorneys will need to know how to communicate effectively.

She said many of the elective courses’ students pick when heading to high school are computer science, automotive and entrepreneurship courses. So, she said, if they have that exposure to career fields, then they can better prepare for the future.

Brody said the goal of the career exploration is for Malheur County youth, who, according to state data, experience the highest rate of childhood poverty in Oregon, can be exposed to careers they might otherwise not have an opportunity to see themselves in.

“Poverty is a hard thing to change,” she said. However, Brody said, over time, the goal is to get students either on a college or career path into high-paying jobs. Ones that will keep them in the region fulfilling a need in the community.

Brody said she hopes to see the kids from the career exploration camp six years down the road working at a high-paying job in the community and that they’re in that position because of what they learned at the event.

“That’s the big picture,” she said.

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