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Lake County Community Career Expo: Making Connections and Planting Seeds

There were about sev­enty tables, manned by potential employers and school represen­tatives, that stretched across the length of the Two Harbors High School Gym on Thurs­day, April 18th. The Lake County Com­munity Career Expo was open to students from 12:00-4:00 PM and the community from 4:00-5:00 PM. The variety of organizations in attendance ensured that just about anyone who attended the event would leave envision­ing themselves in the careers they had the opportunity to learn more about, including some roles they may not have considered before.

“We were very pleased with the turnout,” said Janelle Jones, the pres­ident/CEO of the Lake County Chamber of Commerce, who host­ed the event. “Anytime we can get our local businesses in front of our youth is important to me. It’s about help­ing people find jobs, but it’s also about showing career paths.”

The expo created an opportunity for stu­dents to ask questions about different busi­nesses, trades, indus­tries, services, and all types of careers. The representatives who attended the event were eager to answer those questions and to talk about the places where they are proud to work.

“We really want to get in front of these kids young and show them all the opportunities that there are here in Lake County for them as they grow older and start thinking about career paths and de­cisions they might have,” said Janelle.

The students visited booths from organiza­tions such as the Two Harbors Federal Cred­it Union, Super One Foods, the Marines, the Lake County De­velopmental Achieve­ment Center, the De­partment of Natural Resources, LaBounty, Dominos, State Farm, the North Shore Fed­eral Credit Union and many more, including law enforcement rep­resentatives.

“Most of the kids are pretty young and prob­ably don’t have an idea of what they want to do yet,” said Tim Luoma, Chief Deputy of the Lake County Sheriff’s Office. “But the main purpose is to say we’re out here, this is what we do, here is some of the stuff to look at, and if it is something you want to do down the road, here’s the path to take to do it.”

Though it may be a few years before the stu­dents can begin their journey to entering law enforcement, the Chief Deputy is hap­py to be a part of the expo. “We’re planting a seed,” he said. He encourages anyone who is thinking about being a part of the lo­cal law enforcement to get in touch. “If it’s something you’re in­terested in, reach out to the sheriff’s office or the PD if you want to sit down and chat,” he explained. “Don’t be afraid to ask ques­tions.”

Another career path focused on serving the community and its members is avail­able at Trillium Works and Trillium Services, which supports adults with developmental or physical disabili­ties. Mariaha Boldan, Program Supervisor, was excited to tell me about the numerous ways Trillium makes a difference in peo­ple’s lives. “Trillium is very person centered,” she said. “We value the goals, dreams and wants and needs of each individual that we serve.”

Trillium Services sup­ports community liv­ing in group homes settings, family ser­vices for clients that live with their fami­ly, and for those who live independently. Employees help teach independent living skills, such as man­aging medication and running errands. Tril­lium Works provides day support services for socializing and assists in employ­ment opportunities. “We help people get employed in the com­munity and job coach them through their jobs,” Mariaha said.

The students were interested in talking with Mariaha about the numerous services that Trillium provides. Many shared stories of relatives, friends, and classmates who had developmental disabil­ities and were interest­ed in ways they could be supported.

“It was really cool to talk to a lot of young­er people who don’t know about this field,” Mariaha said. She hopes they will con­sider joining the team after they turn 18. “It’s a really really awe­some place to work for.”

Janelle would call the event a success. “The businesses love it be­cause it gives them the opportunity to recruit some employees and think about their fu­ture. The kids, I think really enjoy com­ing and seeing what is available to them around the county,” she said. “It’s really fun to expose the kids to new things. I think the teachers enjoy it. It gives them something to talk to the students about and work on things from the class­room.”

This is the second year the chamber has hosted the expo and Janelle hopes it will continue to be an annual oc­currence. “We were thrilled. We love host­ing this, putting this on, and looking at now and the future of jobs and economy of Lake County.”

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