Exploration Academy

Posted On: December 15, 2012

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On Tuesday December 4th, 167 students attended the first-ever Exploration Academy, a collaborative program put together by the Southwestern Auglaize County Chamber of Commerce, New Bremen CIC, and Minster, New Bremen, and New Knoxville high schools. The event was held at the YMCA South Branch on Wuebker Road, Minster.

“We’re just trying to give these students an idea of what’s available in the area within their interest for a career or something after high school,” Southwestern Auglaize County Chamber of Commerce Director Scott Frey said. “This gives them an opportunity to look at six different fields of interests or careers. We had asked the kids to tell us their top three interests — they’re freshmen, so they’re still just beginning to process figuring out what they want to do after high school. And we felt like we could facilitate that if we could get them in touch with local professionals and hear a little bit about the career itself; what sort of training and education would be required for that student to enter that career; what type of jobs, what’s the work environment like, what led that person to be in the career.”

The day began with Christy Shell, a career and life coach with Zeal Coaching, provided interactive awareness with the students by practicing how to be memorable, how to present themselves, how to have a good handshake and other vital tools. Over the course of the day the students learned the importance of soft skills training, which if mastered, are invaluable in any job.

New Bremen Economic Development Director Angela Hamberg, an event committee member, commented, “Today is not only to help the students in the selection process, but also help with elimination — because that’s just as important,” Hamberg said. “As freshmen, they’re probably not picking a career today. It’s just part of the process, and we’re trying to give them awareness of how to make those decisions.”

Frey & Hamberg sought out professionals to speak to students about their careers. A large percentage of the professions represented are careers available in Auglaize County. Of those professions not represented by an Auglaize County company/organization, an Auglaize County resident employed in the field, was the presenter. “It is important for all Auglaize County residents to be aware of the opportunities in our county and surrounding areas. This program is just one way of providing the awareness”, said Hamberg..

“At the beginning of the school year we had the guidance counselors do a survey (of) the students to pick three of their top interests, and then we collected all of those and tried to figure out the most common professions,” Hamberg said. “We had 50 professions represented today. We gave them exposure to things that maybe they wouldn’t have considered otherwise.”

After each session, the program provided a 3-minute chat for the students to discuss the profession with their friends and speakers. For Lucas Heitkamp of New Bremen, the day was about elimination. “I learned some things I wanted to do before, but don’t want to now,” Heitkamp said. “I thought (agricultural) business was something I wanted to do.” His interests have shifted toward local law now.

Natasha Schneider, also of New Bremen, became more confident in the career field she had already chosen. “I liked nursing and always wanted to become a registered nurse,” she said. “Today made that desire a definite.”

Christie Shell, a career and life coach with Zeal Coaching, ended the day with some food for thought for the freshmen. “You get to choose your thoughts,” she said.

“You get to choose whether you’re going to live your passion. First, you’ve got to gag that inner critic — that crazy little voice who’s in your head … and fill that information with positive thoughts … But it takes action. You’ve got to show up and try some things.”

The students went home with a flash drive full of college and career information.