Local high school students had the opportunity to try their hands as construction workers at Murray State while learning about potential careers on Thursday.
Hundreds of students from high schools in western Kentucky attended the Construction Career Day at Murray State’s William “Bill” Cherry Expo Center.
At the many booths lining the inside of the Expo Center, students could acquire information about potential careers, as well as participate in a number of construction-related activities.
At one booth, students could show off their carpentry skills by building a toolbox. At another, they could jackhammer concrete.
The students also had the opportunity to operate a bulldozer and other heavy machinery. Several students engaging in career day activities agreed they enjoyed getting out of the classroom to experience more real-world activities.
Logan Greene, junior at Hopkinsville High School, in Hopkinsville, Ky., said he was glad to be at the field day.
“Probably the most fun part is playing on the big machinery,” he said.
Greene is planning on going into the construction field, and he used this field day as a way to gather information about his future career.
Along with all of the hands-on activities, there were businesses and schools set up to showcase their potential opportunities. Western Kentucky Community and Technical College had a booth, as did Middle Tennessee State and Murray State.
Megan Pember, a Murray State alumna, worked one of the Murray State booths as a representative from the College of Education. She talked with students about their career opportunities in the field of education and what Murray State could do for them.
“A lot of the teachers that bring their students here are engineering technology majors, and I talk with students about coming to Murray State to get into the teaching field,” Pember said.
In addition to engineering technology, Pember spoke to students about family and consumer science education and business and marketing education.
Many regional businesses showcased at the career day, including Paducah Electric, Vulcan Materials Company and AirGas.
Louis Yopp, the account manager of AirGas in Murray, said he comes to the Expo Center every year for this event.
He said he enjoys talking to students, and thinks that the event promotes a lot of interest in careers in construction.
“It’s a good field to go into,” Yopp said. “A four-year college isn’t a good fit for everyone.”
Yopp also said he was excited to see an increase in interest from the high school girls.
“There’s a lot more women getting into the field now,” he said.
Teachers at many regional vocational and technical schools brought their students in and out as the day went on.
Ronnie Harper, carpentry teacher at Fulton County Area Technology Center, said he has brought his students to the event every year.
A teacher for 14 years, Harper said approximately one-third of his students every year go into some aspect of the construction field.
Harper said he enjoys bringing his students to the event because it is a new and fun experience for them.
“I just want them to see different aspects of construction, aspects we don’t have at school,” Harper said. “I want them to see something completely different.”
Story by Kate Russell, Contributing Writer