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Career Fair offers area students a look at their potential future

VERNON TOWNSHIP — Zoey Patterson thinks her eventual career path might be one of two widely divergent choices.

Part of her morning was spent checking career opportunities with Channellock Inc. at the fifth annual Crawford County Career Awareness Fair for students at Vernon Central Volunteer Fire Department.

She was among about 1,200 students from 13 middle and high schools across Crawford and northern Mercer counties who attended. Students had a chance to speak with representatives from 60 businesses and organizations that offer employment or educational opportunities in Crawford County and surrounding areas.

Patterson is interested in Channellock, the Meadville-based maker of world famous hand tools, because of what she's knows about the company and its products from family.

"I've got a cousin who works there," said Patterson, a 10th grade student at Meadville Area Senior High School.

"I think it might be cool to work there, but I might want to be a doctor," she said with a laugh.

The ability for middle and high school students to explore different careers as well as career opportunities in Crawford County is the idea behind the annual fair.

"We're trying to be inclusive of as many careers as we can," Eileen Mullen of the Crawford County K-12 Career Education Alliance said. The alliance, Laurel Technical Institute and the Meadville-Western Crawford County Chamber of Commerce sponsor the event. "From farming to manufacturing to accounting and business to police and public service."

Students prepare ahead of time by taking questionnaires about their future plans and interests and then have classroom discussion about what it takes to embark on the career paths in which they have an interest.

Rylan Walberg and Jonathon Addison, two eighth-grade students from Greenville, were fascinated by the National Tooling and Machining Association's display of RoboBOTS, the annual student robot building competition.

"I think it's really cool," Walberg said after talking about RoboBOTS with Tami Adams, executive director of NTMA's Northwestern Pennsylvania chapter. "I'd like to be an engineer. I like building stuff. This is like reality."

The career fair program also helps educators, too.

"It really helps give the students a nice perspective on what our county has to offer," said Laura Peterson, a guidance counselor at Cambridge Springs Junior-Senior High School. "By coming here, they get to see a lot of the career possibilities in the county. We want to keep our kids here."

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