Hundreds of area schoolkids intrigued at career expo

MOORE HAVEN — Over 600 middle and high school students from the Glades County School District and Clewiston Christian School enjoyed a Career and College Fair last week at the regional training center.

Special to the Lake Okeechobee News/Courtesy of GCSD
Many of the vendors present were recruiters and admissions personnel from state colleges and universities.

Glades County Superintendent of Schools Scott Bass credited the organizers — the district’s testing coordinator, Dr. John Huysman, along with Moore Haven Middle High School guidance counselor Angie Hough and Summer Odom, the AVID coordinator (for the Advancement Via Individual Determination college prep program) — for putting on a successful event.

It’s the first time in years that the district hosted something like this, said Dr. Huysman. “It’s the first one we’ve had out there at the training center. A few years ago, we had some at the Doyle Conner Building. This was the biggest one we’ve donE.”

Participants were recruited to talk to the students. Dr. Huysman told them, “I sincerely believe that each of you and your organizations will get as much or more out of this event as our students.”

They flocked there. “I think we had 65 organizations show up between trade schools, technical colleges and state colleges and universities. Everything from certificate programs to … master’s degree programs were all represented there for the education piece of it,” he said.

Special to the Lake Okeechobee News/Courtesy of GCSD
Students gather around to listen to one of the presenters.

But it wasn’t just of interest for college-bound kids, Dr. Huysman added. He said he sought out businesses that are or will be a good fit for Glades County’s future commerce, which is expected to include a lot of ancillary businesses to the air cargo industry, “especially with the progress of Airglades and FAA approval and the Place Makers project moving forward here in Moore Haven, in addition to our existing and budding local businesses, services and careers. Our region is primed for growth and … you are giving our students opportunity and information that will lead to educational, training, and career exposure and development,” he told them.

“The point behind having a ‘Career AND College Fair’ was with all the kids graduating, going to school and preparing themselves for their futures, we wanted to show them what careers are available now in our region but as well as careers that are going to be there later, in the next five years, 10 years — with Airglades growing, hopefully AGLC will start growing and all of those changes that are going to start happening in our region. There are so many jobs that are going to be available. We wanted to … expose them to what’s going to be available for them,” said Dr. Huysman.

The AGLC project is the America’s Gateway Logistics Center. “As it grows, I think it’s a possibility that some industry may use that area as well. But, right now, we’re focusing on the Airglades piece and the jobs that are going to be available.” The AGLC is a large parcel of land available for industrial development, and there has been much more interest in it recently.

He said many businesses were involved, but “not all of them could come.” Officials of Airglades International Airport LLC, which will be privatizing the Hendry County-owned airport next year, were present. “Then we also had Hendry County Workforce Development who’s working with Airglades and some of the agencies that are over there that are starting to look at the workforce pipeline,” Dr. Huysman said.

He also said the Career & College Fair featured a special BBQ lunch for participating business people and other vendors at the end, sponsored by Vulcan Materials. Glades County Sheriff David Hardin and his BBQ team prepared the food on site.

Special to the Lake Okeechobee News/Courtesy of Glades County School District
Seventh- through 12th-graders at four schools in the region thronged into the Glades County Regional Training Facility last week for a Career & College Fair.

Mr. Bass thanked all the participants. Dr. Huysman said the fair was planned with continuity in mind, so they went all out.

“We wanted to make sure that the people appreciated as well as we could … so that we could grow it and find out what was helpful and not. As some of the jobs and the industry grow and become more apparent, we’ll be able to focus more on things that are going on and not be so general the next time,” he added.

But he and the other organizers were grateful for Vulcan Materials’ and the sheriff and his crew’s contribution “because Moore Haven’s so small. There’s not a lot of places to eat for that many people.”

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