Mount View Middle and High School students were given a taste of potential jobs and colleges, along with the skills and training each require, at the annual 2018 Career Day on Wednesday, May 2.

A total of 575 students took part in this popular event, which has been taking place for over 10 years, according to Jobs for Maine's Graduates teachers Hauns Bassett and Chad Larrabee, and Volunteer Coordinator Vicki Kupferman.

Bassett works with high school students in the JMG program, while Larrabee is a JMG Specialist in the middle school, and Kupferman deals with all things related to volunteering at Regional School Unit 3. Working together as a committee, along with all the local businesses and universities who participated, made this day possible.

The committee's goal for Career Day was for students to meet with area employers, to learn what opportunities are available and what students should be doing now to be better prepared to work there in the future.

The middle school portion of Career Day was designed to provide students with a "lightbulb moment" and encourage early career exploration. It also offered a chance for students to meet with a wide variety of colleges to learn what each offers and how they differ in their programming.

Middle school students visited with 24 different presenters, ranging from a police K9 trainer to a Maine Forest Ranger who brought along a service helicopter for them to check out. Notably, 12 of the presenters were Mount View alumni.

Chief Ranger Pilot John Crowley introduced students to the 1965 UH-1 helicopter, or "Huey," as it is known. "These are excess army helicopters which were used in Vietnam," he told The Republican Journal afterward. "They can carry nine firefighters and the bucket can hold 240 gallons of water. They are primarily used for firefighting and search and rescue operations."

A two-year degree specializing in resource law enforcement, forestry and science is required to become a forest ranger and further flight instruction is required to be a pilot, Crowley explained. Most pilots in the Maine Forest Ranger Service came from the military prior to becoming part of the ranger service.

Some of the hands-on exhibits included MaineOXY, where students learned to use a plasma cutter; Unity Ambulance Service, which gave a demonstration using a student volunteer strapped to a gurney; and Unity Fire Department, which showed students what it was like to breathe through a respirator.

Gil Russell, who teaches an Auto Body/Collision Repair course at Waldo County Technical Center, was asked if students could bring in their own projects to work on. "We encourage it," he said.

The Auto Collision program is NATEF-certified, which means students will earn college credit after successfully completing the course, according to the WCTC website.

The high school students started with panel discussions on career clusters with three or four presenters discussing job and educational requirements. Some clusters included agriculture and construction; arts, a/v technology and communications; education and training; and law, public safety, corrections and security, among others.

Representatives from 25 Maine colleges also were on hand and students engaged in conversation about careers, majors, class sizes and locations.

During the last hour, high school students were free to visit the college and career fair in the lobby and gym, where they could pick up literature and job applications.

In an email message to The Journal after the event, committee members said many of the freshman class had thought they didn't want to go to college.

"However, after meeting with employers and talking with colleges, they are starting to learn what it will take to get their dream jobs," the committee members wrote. "(Students) are now putting together academic plans for the remainder of high school and are doing even more research on careers," the committee said in the email.

The event gave students a "knowledge that there is a wide variety of opportunities available in Maine for work (and) … a wide variety of school options," the committee wrote. Students also discovered from the event that many of the schools have specific programs designed to help them secure employment after program completion.

Committee members said they greatly appreciated "the willingness of local businesses to take time off and come into the school…."

"Some were not even hiring, but wanted to come in because they are members of our community and they wanted to tell students about who the company is and what they do within our community…," the committee said.