High school students tour 11 different businesses

Contributed photos
More than 150 students from across Otter Tail County had the opportunity to visit 11 different businesses to explore potential careers in rural Minnesota. One of the tours included a healthcare facility in Otter Tail County and Ripley’s Inc.

More than 150 students from around Otter Tail County had the opportunity to explore future careers in high-demand industries.

The Otter Tail County Youth Workforce Navigation Program organized field trips to 11 businesses representing the agriculture, automotive, healthcare, and manufacturing industries between October and January. Students from Perham, New York Mills, Henning, Fergus Falls, Underwood, Parkers Prairie, Ashby, and Rothsay high schools attended the field trips to learn more about career pathways in these industries.

The goal of the field trips was to show students interested in these industries that there are several pathways to choose from they may not know about yet, and these opportunities are available in Otter Tail County. 

For example, the automotive field trip showed students pathways in service and maintenance, sales, auto body repair and restoration, fleet management, and Commercial Driver’s License (CDL). The healthcare field trip showed students pathways in surgery, emergency services, long-term and memory care, nutrition services, healthcare information technology (IT), and more. 

The field trips were offered to students ages 16 and up and were made possible in part by to the Youth Skills Training Grant, which Otter Tail County received from the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry.

Otter Tail County is partnering with Amy Johnson of Cardinal Consulting Solutions to be the Program Manager of the Youth Workforce Navigation Program and organize the field trips. 

“The most exciting part for me is to be able to witness firsthand when a student finds their spark to define a career path,” said Johnson about the trips. “Regardless of industry, that moment is the reward of this work. The value of our youth holding a defined career path is unmeasurable. Finding this spark affects their journey, the workforce, and even holds economic impact. It’s limitless, and it’s impossible without these opportunities of career exposure and experience. Given the workforce shortage, it’s imperative to offer these career experiences to high school students who are not so far from away from entering the workforce.”

The Youth Workforce Navigation Program is building the future workforce of Otter Tail County and bridging relationships between schools and businesses. More field trips will be planned in the future. Businesses interested in engaging with students through business tours, classroom presentations, or internships can register on the K12 Navigator online tool. Schools throughout Otter Tail County are using the K12 Navigator tool to find businesses willing to offer career exploration experiences for their students.

Otter Tail County encourages employers of all sizes and industries to register their company on the K12 Navigator at www.k12navigator.org. More information about the K12 Navigator and the Youth Workforce Navigation Program can be shared by contacting Amy Johnson at ajohnson@ccsworkforce.com.