David Winter (left) a Hillsboro High School senior who is also enrolled in the welding program at Butler Community College, shows classmate Michael Klaassen the proper method of heating surfaces during the second annual Marion County Job Fair.
Clara Ens (left), a senior at Hillsboro High, won a cookie after answering a medical-related question on the wheel administered by Wendy McCarty (right), human resources director at Hillsboro Community Hospital.
“What do you want to be when you grow up?” is a question more than 150 students and job seekers might have been asked at the second-annual Business Career and Job Fair held March 11 at the Marion County Fairgrounds, Hillsboro.
For Sung Chul, a South Korean exchange student at Hillsboro High School, being a firefighter and wearing 60 pounds of structural fire gear was not his first choice.
“I don’t think I want to do that,” he said.
Joe Fisher, a senior at Hillsboro High School, said he liked having his body weight and mass percentages evaluated by Jeanne Rizha with Greenhaw Wellness Center.
Michael Klaassen, a senior at Hillsboro High School, seemed more interested in welding as a possibility and David Winter, who is enrolled in Butler Community College’s welding program, is pursuing his goal while still a senior at Hillsboro High School.
All participants had an opportunity to learn more about jobs in health care, technology, engineering, agriculture, public and private colleges, non-profit organizations, government agencies and more.
“This year we focused more on career education than we did at our last fair,” said Clint Seibel, director of Hillsboro Economic Development.
Goal of the job fair
The fair was hosted by the Retention and Expansion Business Committee, which is an arm of the Marion County Economic Development Council, Seibel said.
The committee’s goal for the fair was in helping area companies get their message out to high school and college students, as well as interested adults, Seibel said.
“We met with all the county high school guidance counselors to see what might interest students,” he said, “and we were pleased to have three of our five county high schools including a number of Tabor College students attend this year’s fair.”
For Cassie Kroeker, a senior at Hillsboro High School, meeting someone from Hillsboro Community Hospital was important to her.
“I plan to attend Hesston College to become a nurse,” Kroeker said.
In fact, Kroeker answered question after question on the Wheel of Fortune, which was just one of the many games and activities available at the fair.
Wendy McCarty, human resource director at Hillsboro Community Hospital, had a popular booth because of the cookies available when someone answered questions correctly.
“The cookies were a big hit,” said Teresa Huffman, Marion County Economic Development Council executive director.
Hillsboro Fire Chief Ben Steketee said he put fire gear on 10 or more participants.
Prairieland Partners Inc. brought a big tractor to the fair and showed its GPS capabilities.
Another popular spot was Greenhaw Pharmacy’s Wellness Center and the scales capable of showing more than just a person’s weight.
Success of the event
Overall, Huffman and others involved with the event were satisfied with the outcome.
“We achieved what we set out to do, but there’s always room for improvement,” Huffman said.
Doug Kjellin, City of Marion Economic Development director, said he wasn’t here for last year’s job fair, but was impressed with the attendance and number of vendors participating.
“Most of the high school attendees seemed to enjoy the hands on interaction with exhibitors,” he said. “There were several vendor activities and demonstrations which were especially busy during our two sessions.”
Who was there?
“Several businesses that were present last year decided not to participate because they were not hiring at the present time,” Seibel said.
“This year we had more people looking for jobs and fewer businesses,” he said, “and last year we had more businesses and fewer people looking for jobs.”
Looking at the statistical data and comparing it to last year, Huffman said there were 17 booths this year and 22 last year.
“Last year we had four people seeking employment and this year we had 27 adults looking for a job.
One reason for fewer booths, she said, was because some employers have experienced layoffs and didn’t see a need to attend the fair.
Huffman also talked about the high school participation.
“We did have a class from Marion High School attend last year, but that was not our focus,” she said.
This year, students attending came from Hillsboro, Marion-Florence, Centre and Goessel.
“When the committee planned this (job fair),” she said, “we didn’t know so many people were going to be unemployed.”
“Last year we had a more traditional job fair for residents seeking employment,” she said, “but this year, we wanted to spotlight our employers and let the community know more about our businesses.”
Kjellin, Huffman and Seibel all expressed gratitude to those who took time out of their schedules to make the fair possible.
“The committee really appreciated all the exhibitors and those who attended this year’s fair,” Seibel said. “We were pleased to see some of the creative ways exhibitors interacted with the students.
“I would like to thank all the vendors and school administrators for helping make this a great event,” Kjellin said.
Businesses attending this year’s fair were: Parkside Homes, Hillsboro Community Hospital, Co-op Grain and Supply, Butler County Community College, Hillsboro Fire Department, Greenhaw Pharmacy and Wellness Center, Tabor College, Circle D Corporation, Butler College Welding Program, Prairieland Partners Inc., U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Legacy Park Nursing Home, Right at Home, Kansas Department of Commerce, Kansas Small Business Development Center, Manpower Professionals and Kansas Career Pipeline.
Several drawings were held with prizes awarded. Prizes were compliments of Central National Bank providing shirts, Tabor College giving away shirts and bottles for beverages and electronic gifts were compliments of the Marion County Economic Development Council.