GREENFIELD — Marketing coordinator. Network operations manager. Linemen. Video production coordinator.

Employees at NineStar Connect told high school students if there’s a career they’re interested in, the cooperative likely has a job for them.

Greenfield-Central High School and Eastern Hancock students dispersed across Hancock County on Wednesday, visiting a variety of local businesses to learn about the careers available to them in their hometown.

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Eastern hoped to expose seniors to job opportunities that might be available right after high school, especially for those students who don’t anticipate going to college. Organizers hoped to keep the experience local, highlighting workplaces with positions that don’t require a degree.

Freshmen at Greenfield-Central High School participated in Career Exploration Day as part of the school’s Don’t Fear the Future Day, conducted annually to help students prepare for life after high school. Don’t Fear the Future Day sends freshmen into the community, while sophomores and juniors take the Pre-SAT and career placement test, and seniors job-shadow area professionals.

Career Exploration Day also aims to give students a first-hand look at the jobs available in Hancock County to encourage them to stay close to home when they launch their careers.

The event first took place in 2014, when students visited three local manufacturing sites; the original event was modeled after a national manufacturing day.

Since then, the event has grown to include more students and more businesses spanning a variety of industries.

This year, nine businesses participated, showcasing both careers that require further education and those students can pick up right after high school if they’re not interested in pursuing a degree. Students visited Stanley Black & Decker, Elanco and Keihin, among other businesses.

Nonprofit cooperative utility provider NineStar, which has participated in the event the past two years, offers a variety of careers, and business leaders want to expose students to them early to attract local talent later, said director of marketing David Spencer.

“NineStar is unique and diverse as a company,” he said. “We want to make sure students are aware of us.”

A majority of NineStar’s employees live in the territory the company serves. They’re leaders who are involved in their communities outside of work, he said.

A handful of NineStar employees spoke with students about the jobs they have and the education or training they needed to take on those careers.

Krista Riggs, a marketing coordinator, said she graduated from high school and college without knowing the career path she wanted to follow.

Throughout her schooling, she was involved in journalism and sports. She was passionate about social work and special education.

She graduated college with a degree in continuing studies, and about five years ago she landed a gig at the co-op.

Day to day, she writes articles for the company’s newsletter, manages social media pages and plans events.

“Each day is different,” she said. “You’re not doing the same thing.”

The job she holds now feeds all of her passions, she said.

Freshmen Mark Shockley and Kyle Proper admitted they don’t yet know what they want to do after high school, but visiting a variety of local businesses has opened their eyes to the types of jobs they might want to explore, they said.

Both boys are interested in technology. After visiting three businesses, including NineStar, they know there are plenty of opportunities here to pursue that career path, they said.

Greenfield Area Chamber of Commerce president and Greenfield-Central school board member Retta Livengood, who helped organize the event, said she loves watching students go out to see the vast number of jobs they might be qualified to take on in their community.

She remembers that first year. Students visited Stanley Black & Decker, and without prompting from organizers, the plant manager told high schoolers they must graduate from high school, Livengood recalled.

He said as long as they have a high school diploma, the tool maker can offer them a variety of jobs and opportunities to work their way up, she said.

That’s what the day is all about: encouraging students and broadening their horizons.

“Hopefully we get them to dream bigger,” she said.

Participating businesses

Nine local businesses participated in this year’s Career Exploration Day, hosted by the Greenfield Area Chamber of Commerce.

  • Greenfield Daily Reporter
  • Elanco
  • Foamcraft
  • Keihin
  • Moorfeed
  • NineStar Connect
  • Photon Automation
  • Spitzer Racing
  • Stanley Black & Decker
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Samm Quinn is a reporter at the Greenfield Daily Reporter. She can be reached at 317-477-3275 or squinn@greenfieldreporter.com.