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Fifth grade career fair gives students a chance to explore their options

Farmington elementary schools held a career fair for fifth graders.

Not every kid can grow up to be a professional athlete.

Unfortunatley, that seems to be the career choice of most fifth grade boys in Farmington's elementary schools, according to North Trail Elementary School student advocate Lisa Sammlar.

But after last Friday's career fair at Farmington Elementary School, some students might think designing a water park sounds like a pretty good deal. Or maybe they like the idea of fixing motorcycles or confiscating things people are trying to smuggle into the state.

It turns out, kids learned last week, there are lots of great jobs to they could try when they get older.

That's kind of the point of the career fair, Sammlar said - to get kids thinking about not only what they might want to be when they grow up, but to find out what kind of education is involved they need to do the job that appeals to them.

The five counselors from all of District 192's elementary schools put out an invitation to parents, looking for men and women who wanted to share the details of their professional life with the students. About 45 parents signed on for the event.

"These parents are so impressive," Sammlar said. "They don't just come in and sit and talk. They bring in all these impressive displays and things to look at."

It took more than three hours to get all of the fifth graders from Farmington's schools through the FES gym. Kids were given a scavenger hunt-type sheet which required them to visit with each one of the parents and find out about the different jobs.

There were lots of different jobs represented - police officers, doctors, nurses, accountants, pastors and counselors. One student's father works for the Department of Defense, another's mother works border patrol for the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport.

To prepare for the career fair students completed an interest inventory where they compared the kinds of things they liked to do now against a list of careers that might use some of those skills. Predictably, Sammlar said, lots of boys like playing sports and think they want to be professional athletes.

The career fair aims to introduce kids to other fields, maybe even fields they never knew existed.

"It's a really good time to introduce the concepts and start creating awareness of what's out there," Sammlar said. "Once you get to middle school and high school, classes are more difficult, so this is a good time to start getting those wheels going."

This week, the kids were asked to go back and think about the types of careers they saw. They're asked which ones they liked and which ones they didn't care for. It's all part of the process of getting students to recognize the importance of education as they get older, Sammlar said.

The parent volunteers really make the event special, she added. This was the second year for the career fair, and there were about as many parents present last year, as well.

"The point is, that we're really involving our parents. These kids are so proud of their parents, and the parents are so proud to be there, it's cool for the kids to see their parents up there, doing this," she said.

The career fair was introduced last year by FES counselor Jen Venz. The school counselors only plan one a year, Sammlar said, because it takes a lot of work to locate parents to participate and coordinate bus schedules to get students to FES.

Michelle Leonard

Michelle Leonard joined the Woodbury Bulletin staff in November, 2014, after 14 years covering news for the Bulletin's sister publication, the Farmington Rosemount Independent Town Pages.  Michelle earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Mass Communications: News-Editorial from Mankato State University in 1991. She is an active member of the American Legion Auxiliary Clifford Larson Unit 189 of Farmington, and served as the 2014-15 Third District President to the American Legion Auxiliary Department of Minnesota. Michelle is also the volunteer coordinator for the Minnesota Newspaper Museum which is open annually during the Minnesota State Fair. She has earned Minnesota Newspaper Association awards in Investigative Reporting, Local News Coverage, Feature Photography and Column Writing. 

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