Information Possibly Outdated
The information presented on this page was originally released on October 7, 2016. It may not be outdated, but please search our site for more current information. If you plan to quote or reference this information in a publication, please check with the Extension specialist or author before proceeding.
Regional career event: Agricultural specialists offer students advice
TUPELO, Miss. -- Some eighth-grade students may have career dreams but no clue how to make them real. Others may not even have dreams yet.
Bill Burdine, a regional specialist with the Mississippi State University Extension Service, helped assemble professionals to staff exhibits in the agriculture and natural resources section of a recent career expo in Tupelo. The 2016 Imagine the Possibilities Northeast Mississippi Career Expo targeted 7,000 eighth-graders from 72 school districts in 17 counties.
“We want to catch these students before they are in high school to help them plot an academic course from where they are to where they want to be,” Burdine said. “Many of them have not considered agriculture beyond traditional farming. We want them to see that male or female, city or rural setting, there are many options in agriculture for a variety of skillsets.”
Burdine said he hopes the encounters will show eighth-graders some challenging and rewarding careers in a variety of fields. Additionally, students can take something they enjoy -- like wildlife, flowers, pets or radio-controlled airplanes -- and turn their passions into a career.
Larry Anderson, a consultant with the CREATE Foundation, was one of the coordinators for this year’s expo. This was the second annual career expo, which is sponsored by the Toyota Wellspring Education Fund at CREATE and many other individuals, companies and civic organizations.
“This event gives the students opportunities to talk to professionals from a wide range of careers,” Anderson said. “We want to energize their imaginations and encourage them to think down the road.”
Anderson described the event’s three primary goals.
“We want this to be relevant to the real world. We want them to see the connection from education to their career paths and to help them encounter professionals from careers they are interested in pursuing,” he said. “We are giving the professionals a chance to be a mentor for a minute. They can ask engaging questions and listen to tomorrow’s leaders.”
Dennis Reginelli, a regional specialist with the MSU Extension Service, worked in an exhibit that addressed seed technology and other facets of agronomy.
“Agriculture is a very technology-driven career, and most students -- most people -- don’t realize that,” Reginelli said. “I met a lot of students who were interested in farming, but I wanted to encourage them to consider academic degrees that will help make them better farmers or whatever career they pursue.”
Monroe County Extension agent Randall Nevins and Oktibbeha County Extension agent Thomas Legiandenyi shared duties in the horticulture exhibit to explain some opportunities in that field. They both wished a similar expo had been available to them as eighth-graders.
“This age is the perfect time to reach students, just as they start planning what to concentrate on,” Legiandenyi said. “Hopefully, they will be able to focus their studies and activities on the right opportunities for the careers of their dreams.”
“An event like this can open their eyes to options beyond what they may have seen in a small town,” Nevins said. “It can create a smoother path from now until they become professionals.”
In addition to agriculture and natural resources, students also learned about careers in aerospace, marketing, manufacturing, engineering, finance, energy, arts, transportation, architecture, construction, audiovisual technology, information technology, government and public administration, law and public safety, health and human sciences, and hospitality and tourism.