Woodland Public Schools’ Career Explorations Fair provided students with the opportunity to discover living-wage jobs

The partnership with the Port of Woodland stems from Woodland Public Schools’ focus on Career-Life-College, a district-wide approach to prepare all students for whatever future they desire after high school

WOODLAND — Career Explorations, a partnership between Woodland Public Schools and the Port of Woodland, connected 69 area businesses with Woodland High School’s 750 students during a one-day event on Oct. 24, where business owners and career professionals taught students about the myriad of different living-wage career opportunities right in their home region. 

In the afternoon, job-seekers from the area attended Woodland Works, a job fair resulting from the partnership between the Port of Woodland and Woodland Public Schools. Photo courtesy of Woodland Public Schools
In the afternoon, job-seekers from the area attended Woodland Works, a job fair resulting from the partnership between the Port of Woodland and Woodland Public Schools. Photo courtesy of Woodland Public Schools

Teaching students about career opportunities after graduation through Career-Life-College

In 2018, the Woodland Public Schools partnered with the Port of Woodland to help align the skills taught to students in class with the skills needed by local businesses. In addition to working on school curriculum, the partnership resulted in the development of Career Explorations, an event designed to teach students about careers available locally along with the required qualifications, certifications, and any additional education or training necessary to obtain a living-wage job. 

The partnership with the port stems from Woodland Public Schools’ focus on Career-Life-College, a district-wide approach to prepare all students for whatever future they desire after high school by teaching them the skills they will need. Career-Life-College capitalizes on the Career and Technical Education (CTE) curriculum combined with innovative opportunities and beneficial partnerships from area businesses.

Career-Life-College focuses on exposing students to a broad cross-section of jobs, professions, and industries with Career Explorations introducing students to the concept that a single company may offer many different positions available in a variety of fields. 

“Career-Life-College is about helping kids figure out what they want for their futures by learning about the many, many opportunities that exist for them,” said Assistant Superintendent Asha Riley. “There are many more roles available at companies beyond the ones seen at the surface level.”

Students visited businesses at their tables and interviewed them about the qualifications required to get a job with the company. Photo courtesy of Woodland Public Schools
Students visited businesses at their tables and interviewed them about the qualifications required to get a job with the company. Photo courtesy of Woodland Public Schools

In addition to in-school experiences like Career Explorations, Career-Life-College also takes students out of the classroom to get hands-on experience with careers and businesses. During a recent field trip, 25 students visited Columbia Precast, a Woodland-based company which produces precast concrete products used in utility infrastructure. 

“We want to have our students visit companies on-site to see how the skills students learn in school directly apply to careers they will have at businesses,” said Riley. “The students who visited Columbia Precast experienced first-hand how one company needs employees with a range of skill sets to fill a wide variety of roles including engineers, welders, accountants, administrators, managers, and more.”

Overwhelming community support helps make learning happen

Sarah Hadaller, Riley’s assistant, organized and managed both Career Explorations and Woodland Works, a job fair which followed Career Explorations on the same day.

In addition to inviting local businesses to participate, Hadaller managed attendance records, mapped out the conference space, directed company representatives, designed conference materials, and much more in order to ensure both intertwining events went on without a single issue. 

“Neither of these events could have happened without Sarah’s unbelievable hard work and dedication,” said Riley. “I had several business representatives tell me that Career Explorations and Woodland Works were the best-organized of any event they attended.”

This year’s Career Explorations attracted a record 69 participating businesses including a law firm, an orthodontist, a dealership for recreation vehicles and a wide scope of others. 

“Our goal was to have 25 businesses participate last year and we ended up with more than 40, so we were hoping for a similar turnout this year,” said Riley. “Having 69 businesses attend this year’s event once again blew away our expectations.” 

Business owners and professionals taught students about the variety of different jobs available at a single company. Photo courtesy of Woodland Public Schools
Business owners and professionals taught students about the variety of different jobs available at a single company. Photo courtesy of Woodland Public Schools

The Woodland community maintains a proud heritage of supporting its schools and prioritizing the value of education. 

“Our area professionals know how important teaching our students is for the future development of our community and they show it by participating in school events and funding education over and over again,” said Riley. “We are so incredibly grateful that so many of our dedicated business professionals took time out of their busy work days to meet with our students.”

Business representatives greatly enjoyed engaging with Woodland’s students. 

“We were surprised by how few students knew the different jobs and duties available in local government,” said Mari Ripp, clerk-treasurer for the city of Woodland. “With baby boomers retiring, there will likely be a shortage of applicants to fill these city jobs so showing students the possibilities that exist is certainly valuable.” 

Allison Miller, controller for B. Young RV, a provider of recreational vehicle sales and service, greatly enjoyed the event. “I think Career Explorations was a wonderful opportunity for the students.”

Woodland Public Schools and the Port of Woodland would like to thank the many businesses who participated in this year’s Career Explorations fair including:

• AJAC

• American Medical Response (AMR)

• Atlas Plumbing Contractors

• Aveda Institute of Portland

• Builders First Source

• B. Young RV

• Clark County Fire & Rescue

• Clark County Sheriff’s Office

• Clark Public Utilities

• Columbia Bank

• Columbia Precast Products

• Cowlitz 911

• Cowlitz County Public Works

• Cowlitz Public Utilities

• Creekside Place Assisted Living

• CRESA

• Department of Natural Resources (DNR)

• Dick Hannah Dealerships

• EmpRes Healthcare Management

• Entek

• Fibre Federal Credit Union

• Henderson Taylor Law Firm

• Hilton Vancouver

• ilani

• International Air & Hospitality Academy

• International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW #48)

• International Longshore & Warehouse Union (ILWU)

• iQ Credit Union

• JH Kelly

• Joel Olson Trucking

• Keller Williams Realty

• Lauren Cai DDS – MS Family Orthodontics

• Lineage Logistics

• Longshoremen’s Federal Credit Union

• Mill Plain Electric

• NW Innovation Works

• Pape Machinery

• Patriot Fire Protection

• Paul Davis

• PeaceHealth SW Medical Center

• PNW Massage Academy

• PortCo Packaging

• Precision Industrial Contractors (PIC)

• Red Canoe Credit Union

• RightLine

• Sadie & Josie’s Bakery

• Schwabe Williamson & Wyatt

• Shaver Transportation

• Stacie Crochet

• Style Masters College of Hair Design

• Temco

• Tidewater Barge Lines

• Topper Industries

• Touchmark at Fairway Village

• Vigor Industrial

• Washington Department of Transportation

• Washington State Patrol

• West Coast Training

• Weyerhaeuser

• Woodland Community Development

• Woodland Police Department

• Woodland Public Works

• Woodland Real Estate

• WSP 

Woodland Works – Student Career Fair by morning, area Job Fair by afternoon

Following the success of 2018’s Career Explorations fair, many business participants suggested a job fair for employers to recruit area job-seekers. This year, the District and the Port teamed up to create Woodland Works – a three-hour job fair where interested businesses could meet with prospective employees.

Career Explorations connected 69 area businesses with Woodland High School's Career-Life-College program. Photo courtesy of Woodland Public Schools
Career Explorations connected 69 area businesses with Woodland High School’s Career-Life-College program. Photo courtesy of Woodland Public Schools

The Woodland Works job fair started at 1 p.m. following the Career Explorations fair. Businesses could choose whether to participate in just the morning Career Explorations fair, just the job fair, or both. As a result, 51 area businesses attended Woodland Works to meet with jobseekers from around the region. 

“Participating employers were incredibly pleased with the attendance at Woodland Works,” said Jennifer Keene, executive director for the Port of Woodland. “With the national unemployment rate at a record low, offering a free job fair for both employers and applicants provided a much-needed service to our area.”

Employers and companies interested in participating in future Career Explorations and/or Woodland Works events may contact Sarah Hadaller via email at hadalles@woodlandschools.org or call the Woodland Public Schools’ district office at (360) 841-2700.

Business Back to School Day

Business Back to School Day, the next event for Career-Life-College, invites area businesses to return to school on Fri., Nov. 22, from 8:30 to 10:30 a.m. at Woodland High School. 

During Business Back to School Day, local business owners and employees will tour the Woodland High School campus and meet with students to learn how area business can help prepare students for their futures and support their education now. 

Attendees will also enjoy a free breakfast specially-prepared by Woodland High School’s award-winning Culinary Arts students.

If you are an area professional who would like to attend this free event, RSVP by contacting Nicole Galloway at gallowan@woodlandschools.org or by phone at (360) 841-2703.

Career-Life-College and Career & Technical Education (CTE) at Woodland Public Schools

Woodland Public Schools aims to prepare all students for whatever future they decide to pursue after high school graduation with Career-Life-College. At Woodland High School, students can take a wide variety of Career and Technical Education (CTE) courses specifically designed to help students develop the skills they need for careers and trades following graduation which offer living-wages to support families. 

Woodland Public Schools works with local businesses and organizations to continually align the district’s course offerings with the needs of employers seeking high school graduates looking for good jobs. 

“We regularly review and update our course catalog and course curricula to ensure our students learn the skills they will need in the workforce,” said Riley. “The district also partners with dedicated industrial organizations to help line up the skills our schools teach with what businesses need their employees to know.”

Currently, Woodland High School offers CTE courses in the following areas: 

• Automotive Maintenance

• Computer Applications

• Computer Science

• Culinary Arts

• Digital Arts

• Early Childhood Education

• Financial Fitness

• Floral Design

• Horticulture

• Independent Living

• Maritime Trades

• Marketing

• Medical Science

• Metals

• Office Aide

• Programming

• Publications

• Robotics

• Website Design

• Woodworking Foundations

Companies interested in partnering with Woodland Public Schools’ Career-Life-College can contact Assistant Superintendent Asha Riley. 

“Engaging students with professionals in a wide variety of careers is one of my biggest passions,” she said. “We are so lucky to have the Woodland community – both businesses and individuals – who place a priority on education and support our students by providing enriching experiences as well as monetary funding.” 

Contact Asha Riley via phone by calling the district office at (360) 841-2700 or email her directly at rileya@woodlandschools.org. 

Information provided by Woodland Public Schools.

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