DINWIDDIE COUNTY, VIRGINIA – Three years and growing.
The third annual Dinwiddie Industry Day helped contact local students with businesses across the Tri-Cities to help teach them about the different career opportunities here and in surrounding areas.
A variety of businesses, as well as education options were presented to students from 6th to 12th grade.
In waves, students circled around the tables set up in the Dinwiddie High School gymnasium stopping at interesting displays and talking with business owners and representatives about what kind of jobs are out there and what steps are necessary to be qualified for the work once the local youth join the workforce or enter into higher education programs.
“This event has been planned specifically for all of the Career and Technical Education classes at Dinwiddie High School and serves as a special field trip for the seventh and eighth grade Career Exploratory Program participants at Dinwiddie Middle School,” Cierra M. Goode, Dinwiddie County Youth Workforce Development Coordinator explained. “The goal of this event is to teach our students about the many career opportunities in Dinwiddie County and the Tri-Cities region.”
Dinwiddie students were excited to find out about what opportunities lie ahead.
“I did learn that there are a lot of career choices available when I do get out of high school,” Ninth grade student Lauren Dunn commented. She and others agreed it was a learning experience.
Many of the local youth shared that they had interest in working in the veterinarian field, but had not considered the county animal shelter as an employment option.
“I really didn’t think about the animal shelter and found that to be very interesting,” Tenth grade student McMillian noted. “I found that to be very interesting”
What wasn’t as favorable in his eyes was learning that at in most cases, employers were only hiring individuals who were 18 years old or older.
“That definitely was my least favorite part,” he joked.
Though others agreed while meeting with local business owners and representatives, teenagers were hoping to find jobs while still in high school.
Some students asked about internships as they learned of the potential to make money in a variety of careers in the future or even the possibility to earn certificates certain fields.
Rowanty teachers Bryan Clements and Jeffrey Wells shared their enthusiasm about the school’s program including welding and auto technology. They both said they may have found future students to attend classes at the career and tech school which services Dinwiddie, Prince George and Sussex counties.
Goode was excited about the turnout with 48 “vendors” participating with representatives from local businesses like Hales Electric and the Bank of Southside Virginia and other agencies including Rowanty Technical Center and the Appomattox Regional Library System.
The effort, she noted was a true partnership between the county economic development team, the school system and local and regional businesses and organizations.
“I am so excited about the partnership,” she said. “Everyone has really come together to make this a reality.”
And the reality, Goode says, is that many of the county youth aren’t aware of the career opportunities in Dinwiddie and surrounding communities. Industry Day gives them a chance to learn what’s in their own back yard as they consider what they want to do in the future whether its higher education, entering a trade field or to help out by volunteering at an area agency like the Dinwiddie County Pound.
“This event helps expose students to what careers are available to them right here in Dinwiddie and the Tri-Cities,” she commented.
This was the first year that Future Farmers of America advisor Cindy Blaha helped organize the event. She too was thrilled with the response. She set many goals in her plans to help bring Industry Day to fruition and that included adding agriculture to the event. Several new displays included those from 4‑H, the Virginia Cooperative Extension and lessons in where local families get the food on their table.
“This has been a great turnout,” she noted. “It’s not only nice for the students and schools and county, but it helps bring the community together, and we have a bigger variety this year than the past two years.”
Although organizer admit even the first Industry Day started out with a bang having more than 40 tables set up for students to learn, in just a short time its grown to nearly 50 while offering new and different information booths.
She also helped coordinate the meal provided to participants with the Culinary Arts class cooking baked spaghetti, making salads and serving iced tea and lemonade.
Goode and the Industry Day organizers sent out a thank you to those who participated.
“With over 1,000 students to come through the gym on Industry Day, your presence made an impact on someone and we thank you! We strive for excellence and believe it to be important to expose our youth to the infinite possibilities for their future. However, we understand we cannot make that a reality without your help! We hope you will continue to support our efforts in ‘preparing today’s youth to become tomorrow’s workforce,’” Goode noted.
Organizers say they will be back next year.