News Release: Russell JAG-K Partners with Ogallala Commons to Provide Internships

Not every student who serves in a summer internship gets to see their efforts celebrated on the big screen. But seven Russell High School JAG-K students who participated in internships coordinated by Ogallala Commons recently shared their experiences with the community in Hollywood style.

JAG-K provides opportunities for students to explore careers through employer engagement relationships. Those experiences may include field trips, job shadows, summer or part-time employment, and internships. 

Ogallala Commons, a multi-state nonprofit education and leadership organization, has partnered with the Russell JAG-K program to provide students with paid work experiences in their choice of career fields during the summer.

A year ago, Russell High School student Hannah Gideon returned to school for her junior year describing to her classmates the benefits of her summer internship at seed-care products company Agrilead facilitated by Ogallala Commons. Her experience sparked interest that led to seven Russell students, including Gideon, applying for internships this summer.

“Hannah came back and told everyone about not just how much she was paid, but how much she learned and how well she was treated at her internship,” said Russell JAG-K Career Specialist Raina Tomlinson. “That got a lot of my students interested, and Ogallala Commons has been great about helping get our students placed in great internships.”

The experiences of the seven interns were made into a short film for the Ogallala Commons’ culminating “Harvesting Ceremony.”

“Part of our requirements with Ogallala Commons was to do a summary of the internship,” said Russell High School junior Sam Whitten. “We decided to put it in a movie and show the community what we did this summer. All the students contributed photos and video footage which was compiled by Mrs. Tomlinson.”

A showing of the film at Russell’s Dream Theater, complete with free popcorn and refreshments, allowed the seven interns to describe their work experiences.

Jose Gonzalez-Soliz, a high school senior, worked about 25 hours a week throughout the summer for Kingsbury Concrete Construction.

“I told them I am interested in going into construction and they said, ‘We can find someone for you.’ And they set it up,” Gonzalez-Soliz said. “I think it’s going to help me out in my future. I already have made some connections that led me to do some work for other (companies).”

“I want to be a park ranger and I got to work at the lake with the Corps of Engineers at Lake Wilson,” Whitten said. “I worked 200 hours that I got paid for and that let me learn about my career field.”

JAG-K helps students prepare for successful futures by equipping them with the skills necessary in the workplace.

“JAG-K gave me the right attitude that I need to work well and be responsible, and it will pay off in the long run,” Gonzalez-Soliz said.

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. Participants in the program face multiple barriers to success that their JAG-K Career Specialist helps them overcome through a nationally-accredited, evidence-based model.

The 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization is a state affiliate of the national JAG program network which operates in 39 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, EagleU, Evergy, Goldstein Charitable Trust, the JB and Anne Hodgdon Foundation, John Deere, the Kansas Chamber of Commerce, Kansas Gas Service, the Kansas Insurance Department, the Kansas State Bank Commissioner, Royals Charities, Synchrony Financial, the Taco Bell Foundation, the City of Topeka, United Way of the Plains and Walmart.

To learn more about JAG-K, visit, ‘Jobs for America’s Graduates-Kansas’ on Facebook, and on Twitter at @JAG_Kansas.