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Cold weather can't freeze Career Expo

CASTLE ROCK - Eighth-grade students braved very cold conditions to give a warm welcome to employers from across the state of Colorado, as they learned about potential career opportunities during the third annual Career Connect 8th Grade Expo.

“The cold weather threw us for a loop, but schools, bus drivers and employers persevered and I think we’ve had a really great day,” said Douglas County Educational Foundation Program Manager Krista Zizzo, who organized the event.

About 5,000 eighth-grade students came to the Douglas County Events Center to meet potential future employers during the Expo on November 13.

“It’s fun,” said Katherine Malcolm of Parker Core Knowledge. “It’s really cool getting to see what everybody does and looking at options for the future.”

Just about every career field, from law enforcement to zoology, was represented, many by Douglas County companies.

“I love zoos. I really want to be a trainer at the Denver Zoo when I grow up,” said Kyla Gerson of Sierra Middle School.

During the Expo, Gerson had an opportunity to talk with a representative from the Zoo, who could provide better insight into the educational requirements and challenges she might face.

“This is a tough field to get into,” Gary Outlaw, an education department volunteer for the Denver Zoo, explained to the students. “People who get into it don’t leave it.”

Outlaw took the opportunity to talk about the realities of the position, which are not always as glamorous as they might seem on television.

“When you tell them the nuts and bolts of the job, especially of a keeper, it is a pretty routine job. You’re feeding, cleaning and observing animals and cleaning enclosures,” Outlaw said.  “It is a routine job, there are no routine days, because you’re dealing with live animals.”

Across the aisle, the focus at the Colorado Culinary Academy is on food and how much “lettuce” chefs make.

“I’m hearing a lot of questions about how much money I make, which is awkward,” Mike Wills said, with a laugh.

“I think it’s great. It really opens kids to a wider variety of options, including trade schools,” Wills said.

The South Metro Chamber participated and invited its members to take part as well.

“I did this last year and this is a lot of fun,” said Brian Bartony, the chamber’s senior business development manager. “A surprisingly large number of kids already have an idea of what they want to do and how to get there. I’ve had kids come up to me and say they want to be a zoologist; they want to be a coroner. I’ve had kids that want to be in business, start their own business. It is just amazing.”

For the students that do not know what they want to do yet, Zizzo hopes the event planted a seed.

“I would love to find out in five years if something someone saw today helped spark that desire to learn more, to excel in school so they can enter their chosen field. I hope that is what happens,” Zizzo said.

VIDEO: Watch what it is like to attend the 8th Grade Career Expo. This video was created last year.

The Expo was made possible by the generous support of many sponsors, including Douglas County, Arapahoe Community College and Douglas County Libraries. For a full list, visit the Career Connect 8th Grade Expo website.

“I would like to find an official throat lozenge sponsor,” Zizzo joked. “Some of the employers who come with one or two people, by the end of the day they are hoarse, but hopefully they are energized for the future and impressed with the students in the Douglas County School District.”

November 18, 2014 | By rmbarber | Category: Middle School Education, Schools

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