Incoming eighth-graders from nine of the 11 Wayne County school districts recently received hands-on experience in different industries at the Wayne County Career Carnival at the Wayne County fairgrounds in Palmyra.
Students visited 35 vendor stations from six career categories and were exposed to hands-on experiences like building a radio, seeing a 3-D printer in action, taking apart a kitchen stove, checking radiation levels in the environment, working with a pump, sitting inside a police car, seeing wild and farm animals up close, decorating cookies, touching animal pelts, learning where U.S. citizens go to serve in the Peace Corps, working on a health care dummy and seeing how high-precision commercial lenses are made.
Area businesses and nonprofits were divided into six career clusters, including arts and humanities, business and information systems, engineering and technology, natural and agricultural sciences, health services and human and public services.
More than 150 students rotated through the different clusters over a three-hour period to get basic information and an understanding about different career opportunities in Wayne County and the region. The students were treated to pizza from Mark’s Pizzeria and other delicacies after visiting the booths. They then participated in fun zone activities by playing games, taking part in competitions and eating cotton candy until the event ended.
The idea for the event started at a luncheon meeting at Parker’s Grille in Newark in October 2015. Assemblyman Bob Oaks, R-130th Dist., met with Jay Roscup from the Lyons Central School District. Oaks has been interested in career readiness and encouraging school programs to give students as much exposure to career options and a greater sense of the importance of taking full advantage of their school experience. Roscup came out of the meeting determined to find a way to make a career day happen.
Roscup is an active member of the Wayne County Partnership for Strengthening Families. This group convenes five times a year with work groups to discuss ways to help families deal with day-to-day challenges and suggest ways to help families function better. He pitched the idea to WCPSF’s Education Work Group and gained their support. It was not long until he had the area Boy Scout Explorers involved and he recruited Don DiCrasto from Scarlet Thread Ministries to be the operations manager. Numerous meetings were held with dedicated volunteers to imagine, design and plan the event.
Several companies responded to the request to provide a hands-on experience to eager eighth-graders. School districts made the commitment to provide transportation to the fairgrounds and provide chaperones, and the Wayne County Fair was excited to support the event and waited to take down some of their booths after the fair ended so the facilities could be adapted for the Career Carnival.
“It all came together for a very positive day for the students and the adults involved,” DiCrasto said.
Event sponsors included Exelon Corp. and the Ginna Nuclear Power Plant, Dr. Pepper/Snapple Group, Mark’s Pizzeria, Wayne County Fair and Seneca Waterways Council Boy Scouts of America.
“I couldn’t be more pleased with the results,” Oaks said. “As I was walking by a group of youth, I heard one say, ‘This was the best day of my summer.’ Another said, ‘Wow, this summer I got to go to Disney World and now here to the Career Carnival.’ I think that speaks volumes as to how most students reacted to the event.”
Steve LeRoy, chairman of the Wayne County Board of Supervisors, toured all the vendor areas and came away impressed.
“I saw a lot of excited students talking to the businesses and engaged in hands-on activities,” he said. “We should do more of this.”
The school districts that helped make the event a success included Clyde-Savannah, Lyons, Newark, North Rose-Wolcott, Palmyra-Macedon, Red Creek, Sodus, Wayne and Williamson.
“Students were engaged and having fun,” Roscup said. “This is exactly what we had hoped for. Going into eighth grade is probably way too early for students to decide on a career, but it’s not too early for them to start dreaming about what they want to do with their lives. Hopefully this event helped them do that.”
Participating area vendors included Optimax Systems Inc., Integrity Tool Inc., Garlock Sealing Technologies, OptiPro Systems, G.W. Lisk, Finger Lakes Community College Mechanical Technology Program, Exelon-Ginna Nuclear Power Plant, Advanced Atomization Technology, Ruffalo Enterprises, Lagana Heating and Plumbing, Boys Scouts of America, Data Conversion Sciences of New York Inc., Reliant Community Credit Union, New Horizons at Logical Operations, Montezuma Audubon Center, Humane Society of Wayne County, Cracker Box Palace, Genesee Land Trust, The Dolomite Group, LART, Upstate Collective, Premier Martial Arts, Lea's Farrier Service, Krittrkris and Feathered Friends Wildlife Rehab, Rochester Regional Health, Newark Wayne Community Hospital, Wayne County Public Health, Wayne County Sheriff's Office, Wayne Arc, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Police, Drug Enforcement Administration, Peace Corps, Wegmans Food Markets, Newark Public Library, PhotoChica Photography, Sugary Delights Gourmet Cotton Candy, Perfectly Posh and Chair and Pink Zebra.