Academic Fest highlights career opportunities

Thursday, March 22, 2012
Rebecca Crow and Rocky Blades check out the different types of aquatic life at the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission aquarium.

Students at Piggott High School were able to learn about a wide array of potential career paths during the annual Academic Fest event held March 15 on the high school campus.

Few decisions in life have the lasting impact as choosing a career or profession. While economic factors such as salary, wages and employment opportunities often are rated high in terms of selecting a profession, other factors such as personal interest, education and scheduling also are critical.

Through Spring Fest, Piggott students were given an invaluable opportunity to learn more about various career possibilities from several area individuals, organizations and businesses. The information is provided by trained professionals, working in their respective fields, complete with interactive demonstrations to give students a hands-on feel for the work involved with each potential career.

Students in grades 7-12 were accompanied by teachers to the many different displays arranged throughout the school. Presentations were operated by Piggott Community Hospital, Piggott State Bank, PHS FCCLA (Family, Career and Community Leaders of America), NRCS (Natural Resources Conservation Service), PHS Science Club, PHS Art Club, PHS FBLA (Future Business Leaders of America), Farm Bureau, Shield of Shelter Insurance, Clay County Judge Gary Howell, County Clerk Pat Poole, Arkansas Game and Fish, Kenneth Renshaw, Arkansas State University Robotics and Math and the Clay County Health Department.

"It gives the students the chance to learn more about some of the possible careers that are out there," band director Brian Pearson said. "The kids get to see some of the careers that are available and see what they involve."

A new addition for 2012 was Dr. Edward Hammerand, Arkansas State University chair for the Department of Computer Science. Dr. Hammerand spoke with students regarding the field of robotics, giving students an introduction to some of the components and ideals robotics students use in their education.

Through the BEST (Boosting Engineering, Science and Technology) Robotics program, Dr. Hammerand is reaching out to 50 schools, helping generate an increased interest in the fields of math and science among young students.

"The United States, in relation to the rest of the world, is not producing its share of scientists and engineers," Dr. Hammerand said. "Of that, Arkansas is not producing its share. Those are two of the most sought-after areas right now. If this (robotics) serves as a way to introduce students to these fields, they can turn that interest into a rewarding career in a similar area."

By seeing the possibilities which lie ahead in a field like robotics, students considering such a choice are able to plan ahead, focusing on a course of study which includes more math and science.

"There are several students who take an interest in robotics later, but don't have the science and math background," Hammerand said. "It's far easier for students to start in those areas earlier and build from there than it is to go back and take those steps later. If you're planning a career which requires multiple math and science courses, it's best to plan ahead."

Among the other popular displays was a dairy production presentation featuring a live dairy cow, the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission aquarium, healthcare careers with staff of Piggott Community Hospital and public service roles, including a display of voting machines, with Clay County Judge Gary Howell and Clay County Clerk Pat Poole.

Academic Fest continues to grow each year.

"This is something that not only benefits the students, but it also gives the community an opportunity to learn more about some of the options that are out there," PHS principal Barry DeHart said. "We really appreciate all the presenters and organizers for their hard work in making this such a success."

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