KELLOGG — Nearly 600 local students got to be a part of a Career and Technical Education Fair with North Idaho College last week at Kellogg High School.
The event was hosted and organized by KHS, and included students from Kellogg and Mullan school districts.
Career and Technical Education has come to the forefront of educational options for students both in and after high school, due mainly to the guarantees of employment following completion, as well as the lower time and financial expectation compared to pursuing a various degree.
KHS counselor Elana Estill was the vital cog in organizing the event, which was no small undertaking by any means.
Students from KHS and seventh- and eighth-graders from Kellogg Middle School attended the event, along with their Mullan Jr./Sr. High counterparts.
“I coordinated the busing from the middle school, the lunch for the participants, the schedule for the day, a worksheet for the students to complete, and the reservation and organization of the spaces we would need to house everyone,” Estill said. “Admittedly, it was pretty stressful, it all worked out well, in the end, though. From start to finish, it took about two months to organize.”
With 26 different programs on hand, there was something for each student to look at and get information on, from CTE programs like mechanics, health care, engineering, law enforcement, carpentry, HVAC and even aerospace, to military options.
“Career and Technical Education is incredibly important. Ultimately, it provides specific skills and focused training required for different careers,” Estill said. “Since they are so focused, many programs only take six months to two years. Further, these fields are in high high demand just about anywhere you go. They also pay well. For example, a student who has graduated from the 9-month HVAC program will likely start out making more money than I do. It’s amazing. So it’s less time in school, walking out with a higher salary, with job security anywhere in this country.”
With the attention spans of people seemingly lasting less and less these days, for students to have opportunities to learn a trade so quickly and then be able to begin work and be set up for a successful life is an easy sell for a lot of the students.
The students thoroughly enjoyed the fair and came away with new ideas and inspiration for their post-school lives, which makes the two-month planning process completely worth it to Estill.
“Every single student that I spoke to about it said they learned something or at the very least found it fun,” Estill said. “Kids got to complete hands-on tasks that are required in those programs. Collision repair brought a virtual reality headset so kids could ‘paint’ a car door. Carpentry allowed students to screw and nail into wood. All the while they were talking about what a job would be like in this field. It was a very hands-on way to learn about these careers, and I think it was incredibly effective. The hands down best part was hearing from a senior boy, that has been very vocal about his plan to never attend college, say. ‘this actually makes me want to go to school. Can I come on Monday so you can help me do that?’ That one single conversation made all of the stress in coordination and orchestration well worth it. If it impacted one kid that way, it did its job.”