Greater Education Project helps students explore careers

Published 9:51 am Friday, September 9, 2016

The progress of a recently-implemented project that offers Albert Lea High School students a first-hand look into careers was presented Thursday at a public forum at Wedgewood Cove Golf Club.

Albert Lea Greater Education Project Director Jean Eaton discussed the program, which focuses on giving practical education and learning experience to high school students through job shadowing, mentoring and creating endowed scholarships.

Eaton said by connecting with professionals, she hopes students will choose to have a mentor with knowledge in the industry to help them succeed. She hopes a relationship will then be formed that could lead to future job opportunities in the community.

Four students participated in the project before this school year.

Albert Lea High School is helping in the project. Senior economics students have job shadowing and mentoring opportunities this year, and professionals from different vocations will visit eighth-grade students beginning next week.

Eaton said the project aims to have students consider career trends and learn about new careers that will open up after aging employees retire that may not include a four-year degree.

Seventy businesses in Albert Lea have made themselves available for job-shadowing opportunities, Eaton said, noting there are 125 jobs in the city available for job shadowing.

Senior Trent Johnston job shadowed at Eaton Sport & Spine, and discussed his experience to the room full of community leaders.

He said job shadowing helped him realize he wants to be a chiropractor after college.

“When I heard about this job shadowing experience I really wanted to pursue it really hard to see if this is what I really wanted to do,” Johnston said, noting he wants to see other students be able to come to the same realization.

“I think a lot of kids should be able to do that because it would help a lot more kids be able to figure out what they want to do in life,” Johnston said. “It’s just a great thing to do.”

The project has an advisory board that includes Chairman Ken Petersen, Albert Lea Education Foundation member Lilah Aas, Albert Lea Economic Development Agency Executive Director Ryan Nolander and Shannon Berns.

The advisory board also includes Albert Lea-Freeborn County Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Randy Kehr, Riverland Dean of Students Gary Schindler, Riverland Dean of Institutional Advancement Steve Bowron, Val Kvale, Kathy Niebuhr, Mark Grossklaus and Assistant City Manager Jerry Gabrielatos.

The Albert Lea Greater Education Project was sparked from the Education Foundation of Albert Lea’s 2015 public forum. Established by Lyman K. “Manny” Steil, the project has been supported financially by John and Susan Morrison, Eaton said.

Following the public forum, the Pathway to Success Distinguished Alumni Award Banquet honored Elmer R. Peterson, class of 1948 (posthumously awarded); James Horgen, class of 1956; Bruce A. Peterson, class of 1968; and Nancy Ophaug Beers, class of 1970.

Look to the Tribune for more on the banquet.

About Sam Wilmes

Sam Wilmes covers crime, courts and government for the Albert Lea Tribune.

email author More by Sam