Most middle school students have no idea what they want to be when they grow up. Allison White, guidance counselor, wants to change that.
On Wednesday, Nov. 7, White arranged for 10 local businesses to come to the school and show students what products are manufactured in Mt. Pleasant and what jobs are available. She said the original plan was to have guest speakers come in, but she felt that by arranging a fair in the school’s cafeteria the students would be encouraged to explore, meet people and ask more questions than they would if they were just sitting and listening.
“At this age their minds are very open,” she said. “It’s good for them to know what different options are out there.”
Among those there to educate was Mark Eads, plant manager for West Liberty Foods. Eads said he was encouraged to come to the fair because he wanted to show the kids that there are options for all types of careers here in Mt. Pleasant.
West Liberty Foods employs more than 560 and has jobs available ranging from safety and operations to product management and human resources. He said that by showing the kids what they do, they might think about possible career options in their hometowns.
“I just think it’s important they have options and they know that,” he said. “If they want to stay local they can.”
Kristi Ray, executive vice president of the Mt. Pleasant Area Chamber Alliance, helped organize the event. She was contacted by White to work with the students to show them what is made in Mt. Pleasant and what jobs are available.
Ray’s mission is keep people in the area and fill as many jobs in Mt. Pleasant as possible. She felt that by having representatives from Iowa Wesleyan, Beck’s Seed and the Henry County Health Center, the students were able to see, experience and ask questions about the potential jobs available to them.
“We’re showing them two things: what’s made in Mt. Pleasant and what jobs we have here,” she said. “So they can understand that they can be anything they want and still do it here in Mt. Pleasant.”