Dummerston School’s eighth grade students participated in a Career Spotlight panel last week, featuring women in leadership who work in agriculture, transportation, food manufacturing, and economic development. As the students conclude their final year before high school, it’s the perfect time to start exploring how their interests, aptitudes, and passions connect with future planning.
Career Spotlights are one of the career education modules offered by BDCC’s Pipelines and Pathways Program (P3).
Leading up to the Dummerston panel, School Guidance Counselor, Erica Garnett, had students complete interest inventories to identify the types of work that might match their interests. Students then developed a series of questions for the panelists to learn about where they work, their job description and duties, and the career pathways that led them to their current positions.
Luisa Conrad, Founder of Big Picture Farm
; Christine Howe, General Manger of the MOOver
, Ingrid Chrisco, co-owner of True North Granola
; and Stephanie Bonin, Small Business Organizer for the Economic Security Project
were on hand to answer questions about the best and worst aspects of their jobs, the personal qualities needed to be successful and happy in their sector, what students can do now to prepare for a career, and, most importantly, the best way to eat granola!
Luisa talked about her pathway from New York City fashion photographer to managing her herd of 45 goats and making some of the most delicious caramels and cheeses in the area at Big Picture Farm. She identified her problem solving and “go with the flow” abilities as the most important transferable skills that make her a successful farm owner. She said Big Picture Farm is hiring, and told students her top candidates would have a great attitude and “smile a lot”.
Christine formerly worked in education and made the leap to transportation at the MOOver, identifying her people skills and desire to serve the community as a common thread in both careers. She recommended that students who enjoy driving and are interested in transportation consider acquiring a Commercial Drivers License
once they turn 18. “A CDL can really carry you through this world,” she said. “It opens up a lot of doors to great job opportunities.”
Ingrid, a former middle school teacher and principal, utilized her skills as an educator to help students actively engage in the panel conversation about what it takes to be an entrepreneur at True North Granola. She asked students to identify the various types of communication skills they will need at any job – reading, writing, speaking, and listening. She encouraged students to be problem solvers, collaborators, and to keep a positive mindset. “There’s no typical day, so I need to be able to adapt. Resilience is critical to being an entrepreneur,” she said. She also noted that her favorite way to eat granola is on yogurt and sprinkled on roasted vegetables!
Stephanie, who wears many hats at many organizations (including Executive Director of the Downtown Brattleboro Alliance
and Restaurant Owner at Duo in Colorado) rounded out the panel discussing her work as the Small Business Organizer for the Economic Security Project. She discussed the organization’s most recent work calling for Congress to support families with monthly unconditional cash stipends provided for the duration of the crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Stephanie gathered one million signatures on Change.org
and garnered the support of none other than Vice President (then Senator) Kamala Harris! In a surprise very Vermont moment, Stephanie said that Ms. (Ingrid) Chrisco was her favorite teacher while in school, inspiring her to achieve her goals. Ms. Chrisco told the Dummerston students that Stephanie was a, “standout.” “She was thoughtful with great communication skills and the ability to work well with others,” said Ingrid, “and those foundational skills will help you be successful too!”
Students wrote thank you notes to the Health Care and Manufacturing Panelists – some excerpts:
“Manufacturing has always been an interest of mine and I would say that my interest has grown more after the panel.”
“I’m interested in going into the medical field when I’m older so this was very helpful to get some background information”
“…my favorite part was learning about all the transportation used to distribute the products.”
“It was just super to hear how you all want to improve gender equality in your business.”
“Thank you very much for spending your own time to enrich our class and brighten our day.”
Career Spotlights are available to all teachers at every school in Windham County. Please reach out to Christy at email@example.com to bring employers into your classroom and connect students to high wage/high growth careers.
Funding for P3 is provided by the McClure Foundation, Vermont Training Program, Vermont Community Foundation, the Windham County Economic Development Program, the Thomas Thompson Trust, the George W. Mergens Foundation, People’s United Bank, Tom Smith & Omega Optical, and the Whitney Blake Company in Bellows Falls.
BDCC’s Pipelines and Pathways Program (P3) provides employment oriented career-planning for the region’s high school students. It brings training in 21st Century skills, work-based learning, and personal learning plan (PLP) engagement opportunities to all four public high schools in Windham County. The program assists in developing workforce-oriented curricula, expanding classroom relationships, and growing work-based learning through opportunities with local employers. It also supports teachers working face to face with students to implement personal learning plans and seize the myriad opportunities presented by Vermont’s Flexible Pathways Initiative under Act 77. Pipelines & Pathways a BDCC Workforce Center of Excellence program based on SeVEDS strategies to increase the size and quality of the workforce. For more information please visit https://brattleborodevelopment.com/workforce/