Every year, students at the Lake Crystal-Wellcome-Memorial School District, like their counterparts across the state, take the Minnesota Comprehensive Assessments tests. The school district faced a challenge of finding something for non-testing students to do while their peers took the tests. This year, CEDA team member Amber Patten worked with the district to create a service learning and career event for non-testing students.
“There were two grades not testing, 12th grade and ninth grade, so we set up that they went to the elementary school and we created ‘Senior Give Back Day’- where seniors served breakfast, helped the teachers out and gave back to the school they attended as kids.”
For the ninth graders, Patten organized a career morning where students could learn about different career options. She used a career wheel with six colors and invited two businesses from each of those color wheels to participate. The speakers presented for 20 minutes each about their careers and businesses, offering students insight into the work, training, and education needed to pursue those paths.
“I created a list of questions the students could ask the speakers to keep the conversation going” Patten said. “I started with the Lake Crystal businesses and branched out to the Mankato area as well. I made a lot of phone calls and researched businesses in the area.” The participating businesses included Madelia Health, Lake Crystal Chiropractic, MN State Southern Agriculture, Down’s Food Group, Midwest IT Systems, Lime Valley, Hopemeier Construction, Hatanpa Insurance Agency, MN State Patrol, MN Star Bank, Tru Real Estate, and the Mankato State University Student Exec Team ROTC.
By mixing career learning with service opportunities, the event gave participating students the chance to serve their younger counterparts and start thinking about their careers. Business owners also appreciated the chance to share their work, career stories, and job opportunities with potential future workers.
“It was very successful,” Patten said. “Our students really enjoyed it, the businesses were happy to participate, and they mentioned that they’d like to be invited back for next year.”