Students note positive experiences in career/tech programs

Elgin FFA member Liz Selting discusses her career experiences through FFA during Wednesday night's forum.
Elgin FFA member Liz Selting discusses her career experiences through FFA during Wednesday night’s forum.
A television program intended to highlight the successes of career and technical education was produced Wednesday evening, Feb. 22, in the Boone Central High School Gym.
News Channel Nebraska, under contract with Nebraska Loves Public Schools (NElovesPS), aired the two-hour program live, and will be rebroadcasting it several times in the future.
Students from several school spoke about their positive experiences in career and technical programs, with about 70 people in the audience.
Mike Flood of NCN hosted the program, pointing out that the purpose of career and technical education, in brief, is to link students with skills and training that could provide them with jobs in their local areas.
A video, “Ready to Work,” produced by NElovesPS highlighted the career education programs in various sizes of schools, ranging from Grand Island, where students partner with a variety of local industries, to Cody, where students operate a grocery store, and Arnold, where students operate a graphic arts business.
Statistics cited in the film showed that 74 percent of high school students have not experienced a work environment. There is a widening gap in skills development, and some industries in Nebraska cannot find enough workforce. As many as eight in 10 future jobs will require post-secondary training.
O’Neill faculty member Mike Peterson discussed a student project, Eagle Eye Broadcasting, which broadcasts a wide variety of activities and sporting events from the school. Two O’Neill students discussed the benefits of this program, which include learning technology, speaking skills, teamwork and “thinking on your feet.” This program started several years ago with two students making school announcements on video, and has expanded to a full daily news, weather and sports broadcast. Peterson said the students have produced more than 400 programs.
Sarah Bird and Lynne Webster described the comprehensive Career Academies program at Boone Central, which starts with career exploration as early as elementary school. High school students take career development courses and work toward a career field in cooperation with area businesses. A final “capstone” experience completes the program. This can range from an independent project to an internship or advanced training program.
“We want the kids to have real world challenges, where they help with problem-solving,” said Bird.
Webster emphasized that the program seeks to expose students to as many people and businesses as possible.
Mark Prososki of Sentinel Building Systems and Justin DeWitt, Boone Central industrial technology instructor, described a recent cooperative project where students designed a quality check gauge that can be used in plant production.
Also discussing career education programs at their schools were two business educators and FBLA sponsors, Jan Went of Columbus Lakeview and Lisa Hanson of Neligh-Oakdale. The teachers and their students have both worked closely with local businesses to provide student experiences, and try to connect students with their passions.
Julie Schwartz, sponsor of the combined FFA program at Elgin High School and Pope John Central Catholic, said she emphasizes leadership education and real world activities. Relating their experiences in this program were Marie Meis, who writes weekly agricultural stories for the Elgin Review; Justin Funk, who gains practical experience in production agriculture, and Liz Selting, who is gaining
Boone Central FFA members also related their experiences with capstone projects in conducting a fitness program for elementary students, and a student who plans to become a veterinarian had the opportunity to take part in dissecting a cow at Niewohner Feed Lot.
Several other audience members, including Ed Knott of Applied Connective Technologies, and Doug Koch, executive director of the Boone County Development Agency, Inc., discussed the advantages of early career education that can bring students back to the area.
Brenda Warner of Boone County Health Center noted that the health center has been participating in health career education for area students through job shadowing for about 20 years. Several of those former students have returned to Boone County and are now employed in health careers at BCHC.
Dick Stephens, retired Albion and Boone Central Superintendent, said it has been rewarding to see students gain experience and confidence through the school’s career education programs. He mentioned business teacher Lisa Carder and her participation with students in the Gateway Youth Foundation and operating the Gateway Theatre.
Panelists, l.r., Jan Went of Columbus Lakeview, Lisa Hanson of Neligh-Oakdale, and John Peterson of O'Neill with broadcaster Mike Flood.
Panelists, l.r., Jan Went of Columbus Lakeview, Lisa Hanson of Neligh-Oakdale, and John Peterson of O’Neill with broadcaster Mike Flood.