In recognition of October celebrations of Design, Production and Repair Month and Energy Awareness Month, six Jobs for America’s Graduates-Kansas (JAG-K) programs from central Kansas gathered in McPherson to learn about career opportunities at two Kansas businesses.
JAG-K is a multi-year, in-school program for students in grades 6-12 that offers tools to successfully transition students into post-secondary school, the military, or directly into the workforce with marketable skills. JAG-K provides opportunities for students to explore careers through employer engagement relationships. Those experiences may include field trips, job shadows, internships and summer or part-time employment.
About 70 students from El Dorado High School, Chisholm Middle School in Newton, two programs from Newton High School and two from Hutchinson High School came together for the day to visit McPherson-based companies Kansas Municipal Utilities, Inc. (KMU) and Plastics Extrusion Machinery LLC (PEM).
The students attended a power lineman workshop at KMU, at which they learned what it takes to become a lineman, their average annual salary, what they do, etc. The students had the opportunity to observe professional linemen training on a “mock set” outside of the KMU facility. KMU extended apprenticeship opportunities to JAG-K students.
The students also visited PEM, which manufactures downstream extrusion equipment in the PVC pipe and custom profile industries. Students toured the PEM facility and learned about PEM’s hiring process and job opportunities.
“Both businesses provided tremendous learning opportunities that not every student gets to experience,” said Katelyn Loecker, JAG-K Regional Manager in central Kansas. “Both employers discussed how students can prepare themselves now to one day be great employees. They also provided details about how to pursue careers within their respected industries and provided hands-on experiences for the students.
“I want to give credit to Brian Meek from KMU. He is a key reason we were able to make this day happen. KMU holds a lineman workshop every year, so he invited JAG-K, knowing that employer engagements are a big component in preparing young people for the workforce. The apprenticeship opportunities they offer have already drawn interest from students.”
JAG-K helps students prepare for post-secondary education and employment opportunities. The 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization is a state affiliate of the national JAG program network which operates in 38 different states and territories. It is primarily funded through the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families block grant to the State of Kansas administered by the Kansas Department for Children and Families (DCF). In addition to school districts and DCF, JAG-K partners with the Kansas Department of Education. Other JAG-K funding sources include ADM, AT&T, Evergy, Goldstein Charitable Trust, John Deere, the Kansas Health Foundation, the Kansas Insurance Department, the Kansas State Bank Commissioner, Stormont Vail Health, Synchrony Financial, the Taco Bell Foundation, the City of Topeka, United Way of the Plains and Walmart.
To learn more about JAG-K, visit www.jagkansas.org, ‘Jobs for America’s Graduates-Kansas’ on Facebook, and on Twitter at @JAG_Kansas.