ELKHART — Several local middle schoolers recently got a glimpse into a variety of different jobs they could pursue in the future thanks to a newly formed career awareness event.

Thousands of students gathered at the Center Six One Five on Thursday for the inaugural Career Quest, organized by the Horizon Education Alliance and designed to bring awareness to career opportunities in Elkhart County and surrounding communities.

The two-day event, which started Wednesday, featured nearly 50 exhibits from businesses organized into four different sections – advanced manufacturing, construction, health care and information technology.

Students were given about 25 minutes to visit each of the sections during three sessions.

Brenda Allen, pathways coordinator for HEA, said she believes it’s important for middle school students to start exploring career pathways that may interest them and to know about the options that are available in their home communities.

“Students are starting to think about careers at that middle school-age and they’re also starting to rule out what they’re not going to do,” she said. “So, if you start early awareness, they become more familiar or know a little bit more about what opportunities are available to hopefully be able to open their minds to more career opportunities locally.”

Concord Junior High School seventh-graders visited many of the construction exhibits Thursday afternoon engaging in conversations and hands-on activities with business representatives from DJ Construction, Indiana Toll Road Concession Company and JA Wagner Construction, among other exhibits.

Natalie Densmore, a seventh-grader at Concord, said the exhibits helped expand her interest in entering the construction field someday.

“I’m thinking I may want to be an architect, so I was happy to get to learn more and get some experience from people who work in the field,” she said.

At the DJ Construction exhibit, CEO Bob Schrock and his staff were teaching the students how to install shingles on a roof.

“We’re just trying to show them that they can have a career in construction or in trades,” Schrock said. “We know they’re young and it’s early but if we can at least get them thinking about what they can do for a job someday, we think construction is a great place to start.”

The construction exhibit was a favorite station for Concord seventh-grader Chloe Foreer.

Although Foreer doesn’t foresee herself having a career in construction, she said it was interesting to learn more about the field during the exhibit.

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