Second annual Career Fair in Menahga
By Nick Longworth
The second annual Menahga Career Fair was held on Thursday, March 13, from 4-7 p.m. in the Menahga High School gym.
Aimed to show opportunity to students in grades 9-12, over 30 vendors were present and representing various careers and fields including nursing, business ownership, finance, insurance, construction, dental, sales, automotive, law enforcement, engineering and more. Representatives from Bemidji State University, Central Lakes College and also the Army National Guard were present as well.
In all, 130 students and 40 adults attended the event that was free admission and open to parents and community members alike.
Menahga Superintendent Mary Klamm saw the event bring numerous benefits to the Menahga student body. But the major benefit, she said, comes from giving students and parents the opportunity to learn about options around the local community and surrounding areas.
“It also provides local businesses and community groups the opportunity to display the careers and occupations that are available locally. This brings several items together, which in the end will benefit our students as they continue on the educational and career path,” Klamm said.
The career fair itself began in 2011 as an effort to highlight the careers available within the Menahga area. The idea, once presented, became a popular one within the community.
A survey was taken, with over 50 businesses volunteering to take part. Community members then reviewed the survey results with community development experts from the University of Minnesota Business Retention and Expansion Program. Ultimately, it was determined that having a business career fair would be a great way to get students thinking about the opportunities available to them in Menahga.
A full concession stand was available, run by the Business Professionals of America (BPA) organization. BPA was a partner in the event, helping with the organization and set-up.
Two $250 cash prizes were held for student-only drawings (students entered the drawings as they visited different career booths.) One $250 cash prize was held for all attendees at the event.
Marissa Aho and Lanae Aho each won the $250 student drawings, while Tyler Fisher won the general admission, $250 drawing.
“It was a success; I think we hit our goals. Our goals were to let kids and the community know the businesses and careers that are available around Menahga,” Klamm said. “Last year we had 100 students attend. Even though we narrowed our target from last year – it was open to grades 7-12 before - we still increased the amount of kids that came.”
Although considered successful and clearly popular, Klamm said the district may look to make possible changes in the program going forward.
“We’re thinking about switching it to every other year, instead of every year. But when I went around and talked to vendors, most were like, “Really? Why? This is so much fun.” But I know enough - from working with students - that if you do something all the time, they will lose interest. I think if we do it every other year they will remain more excited about it,” Klamm said.