‘We’re preparing our students to take on careers’

(Clockwise from left) Sarah Moehrke presents on the City of Florence Job Shadow Day; RAIN’s Ariel Ruben introduces the speed pitching component of the Entrepreneurial Activation Event; two students pitch to an audience of 85 people; and Eddie Mielke’s SHS entrepreneur class receives a visit from Ruben.

Programs seek to connect youth with vocational opportunities

Nov. 16, 2019 — Siuslaw High School students are learning of the multiple ways to have a career through increased Career Technical Education (CTE) classes, partnering with Regional Accelerator and Innovation Network (RAIN) and a new Job Shadow Day coming in 2020.

To promote the school’s CTE programs, Florence Area Chamber of Commerce is working with the high school on its first ever Chamber Business After Hours next week, Thursday, Nov. 21, from 5:30 to 7 p.m.

According to Siuslaw High School Counselor Steve Moser, “It’s kind of different than usual since we aren’t a business, but the chamber is really supportive of us doing this Business After Hours.”

Moser introduced the after-hours event during the Chamber Noon Forum on Thursday at Best Western Pier Point Inn.

“The idea behind having the Business After Hours at the high school is we really want to highlight our CTE offerings,” he said.

These include the culinary and hospitality class, who will be making cookie dough for the annual Rotary Interact Cookie Platter fundraiser; the auto shop, manufacturing and welding technologies area; the creative arts and ceramics room; the school’s health occupation students; and music and performing arts.

“Our most brand-new subject area is our computer sciences, and Mr. Mielke has done an excellent job getting that going,” Moser continued. “They’re doing programming and coding — but they also have some 3D printers and a vinyl sticker printer, where they can make T-shirts. We also have an entrepreneur class in there, and they make a bunch of cool stuff. They’re going to have that rolling.”

The community is invited to visit Siuslaw High School, 2975 Oak St., next Thursday for food, beverages and a tour of the school and its educational opportunities.

“The idea is that we really want to focus on getting our business community in there to see how we’re preparing our students to take on careers,” Moser said.

Connecting students to potential careers is also the goal of City of Florence’s upcoming Job Shadow Day on Friday, Feb. 7, 2020.

“This is a city-wide half-day job shadow for 11th- and 12th-graders at Siuslaw High School,” said Florence Community and Economic Development Assistant Sarah Abigail Moehrke, who led the presentation during the Noon Forum. “It’s pairing up not only our schools but our businesses and the city to get involved and create this whole thing. … The idea is that the groundhog sees his shadow in February, and so will businesses around the city.”

According to Chamber Executive Director Bettina Hannigan, the Job Shadow Day brings together Lane Community College, Siuslaw High School, the city and the chamber “to actually do something good” for workforce development in the Florence area.

Moehrke continued, “We need to create grassroots development of the businesses and people that are here in order to create a sustainable economy and community. That’s what we’re doing at City of Florence, so that’s how project came around through our economic development goals.”

She described a “job shadow” as a short-term career exploration, in this case just four hours, that can help students learn about a career by following a practitioner and experiencing it first-hand.

When she was younger, Moehrke participated in a job shadow at her city manager’s office. “And now I work at city hall,” she said. “It really can change the trajectory of a kid’s experience.”

Moehrke hopes to get additional participation from the community. She said the benefits include connecting local businesses with youth to show each the other’s potential and creating public awareness of what businesses do for the local economy.

“You can inspire the next generation,” she said. “My dad didn’t know he was going to be a land surveyor until he shadowed a surveyor when he was 19. You can inspire the next person to do your job because of these four hours.”

For information on signing up to participate in the Job Shadow Day, visit www.ci.florence.or.us/economicdevelopment/job-shadow-day. Dec. 2 is the last day to sign up.

When she concluded, Moser stepped in to talk about the school’s perspective on the Job Shadow Day.

“This is a voluntary thing for students to do, … the students you will get set up with want to be with you and the business you do. It will be super rewarding for not only them, but for you as well,” he said.

A final event on Thursday also featured careers and Florence’s business ecosystem, this time through RAIN’s Florence Entrepreneurial Activation Event at City Lights Cinemas.

RAIN Coastal Venture Catalyst Ariel Ruben has been working with Eddie Mielke and his entrepreneur class at Siuslaw High School.

“It’s a new, spontaneous partnership that I hope will continue to grow,” she said. “I’ve come in a few times to his business class, where they also have a makerspace. … It’s been my privilege to speak to the students there. They’re brilliant.”

Earlier this term, Ruben taught the students how to pitch business ideas.

“Pitching is about convincing influencers that your idea merits their support,” she said. Thursday’s pitches were required to be short, clocking in at only one minute. “The purpose of this pitch is to transfer incredible enthusiasm to your audience.”

Two Siuslaw students ultimately stood on stage during Thursday’s event to pitch their business ideas to the Florence entrepreneur community. Each earned applause for their business models, which included a customizable fashion store and a food delivery service for rural areas around Florence.

“Basically, my business plan is to create your ideas and bring them to life,” student Elyssa concluded.

After they pitched, Ruben said, “Wow! Two high schoolers! Thank you so much.”

Mielke, who was in the audience, said the students who attended would get extra credit.

Through experiences in CTE, job shadowing, potential internships and workshops through RAIN, the Florence area is equipping students to consider all the options for future career paths.

“I could not have been more proud to have some of the students attend our event and share their business ideas,” Ruben said. “The next generation of innovators is here!”

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