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Hancock County eighth-graders check out careers at manufacturing week event

The four-day event at the Owens Community College Findlay campus lets students get first-hand experience in manufacturing careers.

FINDLAY, Ohio — Hundreds of area middle-schoolers will be getting a firsthand look at potential careers in manufacturing this week.

After two years off, Raise the Bar Hancock County once again is hosting its Hancock County Manufacturing Week.

All week long, eighth-grade students from all Hancock County School districts will meet, speak, and interact with industry professionals to learn more about possible future careers.

"So, it's really about what's interesting to you, how you want to feel fulfilled, and then how do you want to be connected to the right products," said Tricia Valasek, executive director of Raise the Bar Hancock County.

Multiple businesses are on site this week at the Owens Community College Findlay campus.

And for them, this is a chance to plant the seed early for possible workers.

"There's not a lot of 30-40 year old guys out there with that experience, because they're already spoken for, they're already working somewhere. And we're competing with companies like McDonalds now for these 18 year olds," said Cody Conaway, president of DNC Hydraulics.

Organizers say it's important to help the younger generation understand their options for future careers.

It's also important to educate them on those options before they reach high school.

"By then they really seem to be set in their ways as to what they think they want to do. So again, just opening up those different career pathways and getting kids more educated about what's there, what's here locally, it helps them make a much more informed decision about their futures," said Kyle Latts, work base education coordinator at Millstream Career Center.

Credit: Jon Monk
Nearly 1,000 8th grade students will take part in Manufacturing Week at Owens Community College

"They say the earlier we can get to opening kid's minds about what is an opportunity, the better. So, we just allow them to explore today. There is no push, there is no 'You HAVE to go this direction'. It's just open up you minds to the creation that happens in this industry," Valasek said.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic interrupted it, organizers scheduled this event each October. But Valasek said with the success of this event, it will now more than likely be scheduled in May moving forward.

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